August 6, 2020

Every day, I receive perhaps a dozen emails offering to design and implement the world’s best search engine optimization strategy for me and my business. The problem is – I read none of them – because when I did read them – I believed none of them. How can I believe an illiterate consultant (and most of them are) selling be a service that is ‘ideal’ for a business they know nothing about? These emails promise the world and the businesses behind them, deliver atlases.

Another feature of these emails is that they tend to focus on traditional searches. That is, the target audience typing a word or phrase into a search engine and the consultant (applying proprietory magic they all suggest they have) ensuring that the clients brand appears in the first three listings. Research indicates that 65% of people searching do not look past the first three organic listings. What these emails rarely discuss is the two growth areas in search – image search and voice search. 

Image search involves a consumer posting an image into Google and the search engine showing in the search results – where that image has appeared. This form of search is handy with visual items and issues – including fashion, tourism, people’s faces and building designs. Voice search involves a consumer using a voice command to search, perhaps using a smartphone and a service like – Cortana, Siri or Amazon Echo. Not only is image and voice search growing – but they require very different SEO strategies to the standard search process.

Consider these image search statistics:

  • There are over 600 million visual searches on Pinterest each month.
  • Image-based Pinterest Ads have an 8.5% conversion rate
  • Pinterest is projected to clear $1 billion a year in ad revenue by 2020.
  • Image recognition market is expected to grow to $25.65 billion by 2020.
  • By 2021, early adopter brands which redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%.

Image-based searches are becoming more popular, and for many businesses, should not be ignored. Here are some tips for making image search work well for your business:

  • Thoroughly understand what images your market might search with.
  • Incorporate a range of images in your published content.
  • Wherever possible, use high-resolution photographs.
  • Optimize the image size and file type.
  • Select the optimal words for the text accompanying the images
  • Recognize all of the search engines used including Google, Bing, Pinterest, etc.

Consider these voice search statistics:

  • 20% of all searches are now voice-activated (Google).
  • 31% of smartphone owners use voice tech at least once a week.
  • 50% of all online searches will be voice-based by 2020.
  • 30% of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020.
  • 55% of households are expected to own smart speaker devices by 2022.
  • Global voice commerce is expected to be worth $40B by 2022.

Voice search is rapidly growing in popularity. This should be no surprise given how much faster and easier it is. The growing use of voice-activated technologies is also facilitating it. Here are some tips for making voice search work well for your business:

  • Optimize for rich answers.
  • Re-imagine and restructure your content.
  • Use conversational language for content.
  • Target long-tail keyword phrases.
  • Improve the loading time of your website.
  • Pay attention to mobile.
  • Leverage Google my business listings.

To illustrate just one difference between traditional search and voice search – in a typed search the consumer might enter ‘screwdrivers’ – while in a voice search, they are more likely to utter ‘what screwdrivers are available in Perth’. Not only are the search words generally more conversational, but the terms used are also often different, and there will be variations from market to market.

That voice search will be one of the trends that diminish the power of brands, will be addressed in a future blog.

For now – the critical point being made here is three-fold:

  • Ignore those infuriating emails selling snake oil.
  • Seriously consider image and voice search given that they will only grow.
  • Recognize that image and voice search require a different SEO strategy.

In closing, I would also suggest that if your digital consultancy has not been talking to you about image and voice search – you should sack them. I would argue that voice and image search are the future of search and need die consideration in just about every SEO strategy

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