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What is voice search for ecommerce?

Voice searches are an action that directs the user to an electronic device by means of a spoken command.

This means that the device records the voice through the built-in microphone and automatically associates the request or question with an application. These can be internal device apps (such as the clock or calendar), or external (such as, in this case, a brand or retailer's online store).

The most popular voice searches are still commands to play music, check the weather and set reminders and alarms. However, there is increasing talk of voice search applied to ecommerce and how it will be a key technology that needs to be optimised now.

How do voice searches work in ecommerce?

Exactly the same way as any other type of command done in a device with voice recognition.

The user launches a request or question and in return receives a suggestion of a product, or enters directly into the purchase process of a store or marketplace usual for him.

It has always been said that the key in ecommerce is the visual factor: that shoppers are able to see and compare many product photos and videos. And, while that is still key, the first step may become increasingly talked about, thanks to the convenience and speed of the voice commands versus typing.


Voice search web optimization


Moreover, they are an indispensable help for shoppers with a certain inability to perform visual or written searches.

We should also remember that in recurring purchases or automated orders the buyer does not need to review the product page, thus ordering a quick purchase by voice will be a great advantage.

You only need two elements to make ecommerce purchases using voice searches:

  • A device equipped with a voice assistant: any smartphone, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, Samsung Smart Home.
  • A voice assistant: Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana...

Let's look at an example:

A user tells Siri via his HomePod that he wants to buy some basketball shoes. Siri will show him a result with the price and, from here, the user can confirm the purchase or continue requesting to see more similar products.

9 tips to optimize your ecommerce for voice searches

Get Google snippets via enriched content

When making a request to a voice assistant, it is obvious that the first suggestion will come from the most popular product. That's why ranking among the first results for a particular search (such as "red enamel casserole") increases the chances of appearing in a voice search.

To get listed in Google's snippets, an online store has to invest in rich content. That is, include all the basic, well-organized product data on product pages, with a structure that is easy for Google (and any voice assistant) to identify and read.

As this will be a constant practice when optimizing any ecommerce for voice search, it is important to note that having a PIM (Product Information Management) system is a basic strategy to get that precise, clear and adapted content to voice commands.

Adapt your product content to the way we speak, not the way we write.

This is a fundamental step that seems easier said than done.

Shoppers make spoken queries differently than when they type something into Google. That implies that your product and online store content must also adapt to a read aloud response format.

Most queries via voice assistants are in question format. That's why content in answer format is so highly valued: it quickly clarifies basic points and essential data when identifying a product.

It is advisable to avoid convoluted language, long sentences and complex grammatical constructions. Complex or difficult-to-pronounce product names should also be avoided.


Voice search in online store


This applies to both your catalog content and SEO work. The use of keywords should also be done in a conversational style, where words that would be natural in spoken language are included.

For example, "light blue t-shirt with stars" would be a conversational keyword adapted to voice search, as opposed to "light blue t-shirt stars”.

Google provides some tips for optimizing content for voice search:

  • Answer the user's basic questions, which are what, who, who, where and why. 
  • Use natural language: Informal conversation is more valued by voice searches than a literary style. In addition, sentences written with a complete structure and no missing prepositions are valuable, in order to make sense when read aloud.
  • Create texts under 30 words: This applies to texts aimed at answering specific questions. It is also advisable that each idea or answer be in its own paragraph.

Prepare well-organized and labeled product content.

Product content remains a main raw material, for both your store and for voice assistants. Product descriptions should include all technical data and variants, to make it easier for them to quickly identify the type of product and whether it matches the search.

If the products are well structured, it will be faster and always accurate to locate the right categories and avoid misunderstandings.

A PIM system is indispensable to control all this information, achieve optimal quality levels for the customer experience, and excel in optimized voice searches.

In addition, in a PIM you can collect and manage content in several languages at the same time, which is key if you sell in several countries or regions and want to adapt to the searches of each audience.

Include long-tail keywords

Since spoken search commands are longer than written ones, it makes sense that long-tail keywords will carry more weight and help your ranking.

Including longer keywords in short phrase format may seem to attract less traffic, but for voice searches they are the best ones to use. The key is that they are natural, not too long, and that they are spread throughout your content and pages in your ecommerce store.

Write product descriptions that sound great.

It seems like a thing of yesteryear, but once again we have to go back to thinking like radio commercials.

An original product description, read aloud, will be much more likely to get and keep the user's attention than a string of cold facts or in a style not intended for the spoken format.

Answer questions about your products

Product related searches are the most important ones, so optimizing product content should be done.

Both on each product page and in special FAQs sections, it is highly recommended to include questions and answers in brief format, that can correspond to typical voice searches and, above all, clarify customers' questions.

You can research the most common or trending questions in your product category to know what to add to your content. Listening to shoppers and adapting to their needs is a successful strategy for any ecommerce content format.

Include your products in Google Shopping

Most users browse in Google, and devices that have this search engine associated by default will also highlight the products that appear in the Google Shopping tab before other ones.

Positioning your products in Google's marketplace gives you more opportunities while increasing your catalog’s visibility online. To stand out and be a vendor or manufacturer in Google, it is important to follow the same point as in the previous section: that all your product content is complete and ordered.

Offer a simple purchase and checkout process

If the advantage of voice assistants is to get a product with something as simple as saying "Buy it, Alexa," then the actual purchase process itself really needs to be easy.

Simple checkouts are the most convenient for any type of purchasing process, since they avoid a large number of screens and confirmations. Integrate fast and instant payment methods, such as Apple Pay and other e-wallets in your ecommerce store, so that voice checkout doesn't require any typing.

Take the leap to artificial intelligence

So far, we have been talking about how to optimize an ecommerce store for assistants and search engines like Google. But you can also develop your own technology to incorporate voice search into your online store and improve its connectivity with spoken commands.

One option is to include voice search skills, which allow you to link commands from major voice assistants directly to your online store.

Let's imagine you have an online ice cream store called "Cream & Waffle". A programmed Skill would allow any shopper to say "Alexa, order three large tubs of vanilla ice cream from Cream & Waffle" and place an instant order.

These skills can be developed for Alexa, Siri, Google and Cortana.

A different and complementary alternative to this is to develop an internal voice search engine via API in an ecommerce store, be it a website or an app. This means that shoppers could query the entire content of your online store using voice commands, which is costly and requires a lot of effort, but this could make you an early adopter of this technology.

Is it worth optimizing product content for voice search?

Yes, even for sceptics who see a low number of such searches as well as online purchases.

On the one hand, because like any new technology, its implementation is gradual and will strengthen over time.

On the other hand, because it is a social endeavor: many online users are not able to use written text searches or typing and need the help of a voice assistant.

And finally, because even if voice search shopping never succeeds, your product content will have benefited from an optimization that improves visibility and user experience.

We recommend adopting a PIM system to easily organize it and save a lot of work in synchronizing product data across dozens of different channels. You will get perfect content in the eyes of Google and now also in the ears of buyers. Try it for free with us in Sales Layer and see for yourself how some trend rumors are actually true.


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