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Our Analysts' Insights

25Apr

Voice Search: Five Tips for How to Prepare

Speech-enabled search allows people to access information much faster than they can through typing– particularly in languages such as Chinese, Hindi, and Japanese – and especially when fingers and eyes are occupied with driving or making equipment repairs.Customer expectations are already shifting as people take for granted the ability to give voice instructions to Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and their local equivalents Why shouldn’t they be able to do the same as they place product orders through your chatbots or search for information in your support knowledge base?

It’s time to gear up for multilingual voice search, even if it hasn’t arrived yet for your company. While investigating implementations for multilingual support knowledge bases, CSA Research also documented how companies can prepare for the transition from text-based to voice-enabled search. Here are five ways to get ready as your audience jettisons their keyboards and keypads:

  • Understand that voice search is about more than keywords. Rather than optimizing for specific words and phrases, shift your focus to topics and the questions that customers pose conversationally as they try to figure out how to do something or how to resolve a problem. Voice search generally involves more words than text-based submissions, and they may be asked in a variety of ways. Work with sales and support colleagues in local markets to gather the questions that people are asking – verbatim – so that your FAQs and other support material reflect how prospects and customers actually look for their information.

  • Extend the length of keyword phrases – they still have a role to play. Expand search keyword lists to reach users based on the types of questions they are asking. For example, in addition to “pregnancy ultrasound,” include “pregnancy ultrasound in the first trimester,” “pregnancy ultrasound in the second trimester,” and “ultrasound for problem pregnancies.”

  • Guide content creators to pivot their technical writing style to conversational. For example, instead of describing how something works or what an error message means, support content creators will need to shift to writing in a more natural voice that answers out loud real questions that customers ask.  You may need to do some original research to be able to apply this style in all languages that you support. That’s because a direct translation of questions from the source language may not reflect the choices made by local audiences for their inquiries – in the same way that keyword phrases and SEO differ between markets.

  • Capitalize on the intent of customers early in their journey. By targeting the awareness and consideration phases with material that solves an audience’s challenges or answers their questions, you have a better chance of capturing or keeping them as customers. This means that you need to understand their intent and optimize for it earlier rather than later as they engage with you.

  • Plan for platforms to differ in their approach to voice search.  For example, the key to achieving the best results on Google Home or Assistant is to get listed in the “Answer Box.” That’s because the text that appears there is the only answer that’s read out during voice search – you get one chance. Check out your local competitors to see who’s winning the Answer Box. With Amazon’s Alexa, search results are often based on “skills” provided by third-party developers. So, make sure that you develop skills for the most common requests across your markets.



Start now to prepare for voice search as it applies specifically to how your prospects and customers discover and learn about your brand and its products and services early in their journey. Work with colleagues to uncover and integrate the longer phrases and expanded topics that people use as they interact with their devices. Support content creators throughout your organization to shift to writing for speech enablement, rather than for passive reading. Combine these actions with knowledge of how each platform approaches voice search, and your audiences won’t leave you behind with their keyboards and keypads.

About the Author

Rebecca Ray

Rebecca Ray

Director of Buyers Service

Focuses on global digital transformation, enterprise globalization, localization maturity, social media, global product development, crowdsourcing, transcreation, and internationalization

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