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Optimising Product Data for Voice Search

Forrester Research predicts that many challenges are due to plague businesses in 2018 and has branded it “a year of reckoning”. It doesn’t seem like good news, does it?

According to Forrester, it’s awful news – that is, unless retailers can evolve quick enough to keep up with rapidly changing consumer behaviour and digital landscape.

By the end of 2020, 50% of internet searches will be voiced (comScore) and 30% of those will be done without a screen (Mediapos).

The rise in virtual assistants and voice searches is an indication that consumers are becoming more simplistic in their shopping behaviour, perhaps caused by the volume of ads they are exposed to daily.

Consumers are already using virtual assistants to control smart devices in their home, stream music, set timers and create shopping lists.

Now, they are even using them to shop. Instead of seeing lists of results when they search things like: “where can I buy a blue dress?”, they want to be given a single, personalised result; results based on their previous shopping habits and interests, and this is what digital assistants such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo are beginning to do.

How can you optimise product data for voice search?

Because voice search offers just one result - as opposed to a list to choose from - competition is higher than ever and brands competing will have to ensure their product data is optimised to its fullest potential.This will heighten the relevancy of your products so that when a buyer searches, yours match above others in terms of title keywords or category.

It’s important to do this continually as consumer behaviour and technology changes.

There is an additional optimisation which may come about sometime in the future too. Keyword research, while still very important, will need to be accompanied by longer form content in conversational language, covering different steps of the buyer journey such as:

Research: “What is the best 4k TV?"

Businesses that utilise great content to inform and help potential customers, without being too “salesy”, prosper and gain the most leads. If a listicle you made, comparing different 4k TVs, appears in Google’s featured snippet box, then you have pushed the consumer lower down the sales funnel, closer to making a purchase.

In addition, if your product has many five star reviews and is also optimised in terms of product data, it will be more likely to appear in Google's carousel ads.


Online: “I want to buy a 4k TV”

This will show consumers to your products directly, which means your product data must be in top form; relevant to what consumers are searching at that time to appear.

Localised: “Where can I buy a 4k TV?”

This is your chance to direct consumers to your store, which is a great way of merging online and brick and mortar. Again, product data must be optimised for your products to appear in Google’s product carousel.

While there is no way of doing this within channels and marketplaces currently, it’s important that retailers and brands are ready and able to move quickly once methods are provided.

Do your research, find out what questions your customers are asking and keep an eye on trends within voice search.

What can you do in the meantime?

Data quality

  • Poor quality product data results in products that are less likely to appear to potential buyers, lowering visibility and lost potential revenue. Your data must be exceptional, optimised for each individual channel and be in the correct format for your products to appear at the top of voice searches. Before you think about how you might use longer form content in your data for voice search, ensure your data quality is optimal otherwise you won’t see an improvement in the discoverability of your products.

Scientifically test product data

  • It's important to have a way of tracking the way customers interact with your products so that you know what’s working and what’s not. This ability will increase your chances of appearing higher as you'll be gaining evidence-backed insight.

Be quick; don't panic!

  • We advise brands and retailers to move quickly, however, rushing to meet demands in this area leads to poor quality product content. Brands and retailers need to put together a good digital strategy on how they will optimise for voice search once marketplaces allow it.

With the recent advancements in voice search, its important for retailers to be not only focusing on SEO when it comes to their website and content, but also to be prepared for when the option to add long tail search terms to product data drops.

With speech recognition errors at an all-time low, with Google achieving 4.9% word error rate as of last year, the ease of use will prompt a further rise in popularity as error rates drop and new features such as taking into account the context of a sentence to identify ambiguous words. Seriously, even parrots are using virtual assistants:

Well, not so effectively.

Get in touch with us to begin optimising your product data and enhance discoverability on voice search.


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