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Voice, The Final Frontier: What Does Voice Search Mean For Your Online Business?

Voice, the final frontier. These are the searches of the e-commerce shopper. One thing is for sure: you need to get on board with this technology if you wish to seek out the customers of the future.

Voice search has been on the horizon for some time and is now gathering pace as a critical future aspect of the e-commerce market. Already, 40% of adults use voice search at least once a day; by 2020 it is expected that voice search will comprise 50% of all searches, period.

So what exactly does voice search mean for your online business? Opportunity. And here’s why.


What is voice search?

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Sometimes the explanation is obvious: voice search is the process of voice-enabled searching, where you access search engines using the power of your voice. Voice can be used on your phone, tablet, connected car, or voice-controlled assistant – anything connected to the internet that offers a search facility.


Examples of voice search devices include:

  • Amazon’s Echo – which uses Alexa
  • Siri (for Apple phones/tablets)
  • Apple’s HomePod – which uses Siri
  • Google Home
  • Google Voice Search
  • Microsoft’s Cortana
  • Alibaba’s Tmall Genie


Voice is particularly popular among the younger generation. 46% of US smartphone-owning Millennials use voice search, with this figure likely to increase with the Linkster generation  (those born after 2002).


Why is it good for your online business?

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E-commerce exists as an industry because shoppers want a faster, more responsive, and more convenient way of buying the goods they want. Voice search makes all of these things easier for your customers to achieve – after all, people can type around 40 words per minute, but they can speak 150.

Amazon has shifted over 18 million units of Echo, and over 15 million Google Home devices have been bought. Meanwhile, Apple will release their highly anticipated HomePod in December 2017 and its first-year unit sales are expected to reach 10 million.

How does this make voice search good for your online business? If it’s easier for your customers to find what they want, then it’s easier for them to buy what they want, which makes it easier for you to sell your products.

Of course, if your business is in the game of selling voice search technology, then that’s even better, with sales of voice-assistant devices up 39% in 2017.




Why is it bad for your online business?

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It’s not all good news, I’m afraid. While voice search is great for e-commerce customers, that doesn’t mean that it’s great for your e-commerce business.

Voice search is not yet as sophisticated as traditional, non-voice searches. Because of this, it has been predicted that the top three ranking sites in SERPS will be the beneficiaries of 98% of the searches made using voice search.

This means that the SEO tactics and techniques you have employed to improve your rankings won’t necessarily apply to voice search results.

This doesn’t render all of the things that you have been doing to get your SEO singing obsolete. However, what voice search means is that your business might have some SEO work to do – and some software to get on board with.


How to make voice commerce work for your e-commerce store 

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The nature of voice search means that:

  • Questions are more likely
  • Search terms are longer
  • Searchers want swift and precise answers
  • Searches will be more local


Your e-commerce business can be prepared for this and make voice search work better for you by employing Natural Language Processing (NLP) within your content.

NLP is a form of AI which lets computers absorb and process human speech as it’s spoken. For your online business, NLP will enable your site to process searches in the language that is used by your customers.

Using Twiggle allows you to incorporate NLP into your online business, by enabling your site to understand shoppers’ intent when making voice searches.

However, you shouldn’t just stop there.You should also be thinking about the language your customers are speaking. Is software available to allow customers to search your online business in their native language, irrespective of whether it’s the same as that of your site?

If you’ve built your online business using a platform like Shopify, then you can use the Smart Search & Instant Search apps to enable your site to allow multilingual searches.


Credit: Shopify


Whatever the mechanics of your site, making it multilingual is something you should give real thought to. Doing this could open up your business to a whole new market.


Be mindful of Alexa. Amazon knows the importance of voice search and voice-controlled purchasing, and if the largest e-commerce company in the known universe is utilising it, then it is something you will ignore at your peril.

Voice search is an opportunity for your business to provide a faster, more responsive, and more convenient shopping experience for your customers. This makes it a chance for you to create more business for your company.


Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on e-commerce and how writers can hone their craft. She is passionate about using her experience to help other writers improve their skills.

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