Increasingly, people are finding that they can use voice search to multitask. It’s faster and easier than text-based search. And, voice search quality is improving. In 2013, the apps would deliver a correct response just 70 percent of the time. Now, users get answers 95 percent of the time.
Google SEO Sundar Pichai told attendees at the Google I/O conference that one-fifth of searches on the platform are now done by voice.
Young people are most comfortable with voice search than their elders. They are also less likely to have strong brand preferences. This gives hotels that optimize for voice search an advantage for any specific booking, but it may also lead to developing a life-long customer. They are also the demographic most comfortable with using mobile, which makes the transition to a phone-based voice search seamless.
How Can Hotels Use Voice Search?
Hotels are a natural fit for voice search. 22 percent of voice searches are requests for local information such as restaurant and lodging information. The tool is also useful for hotel bookings. Currently, the question term most used for voice search is “who” (up 125% year over year), “where” questions are quickly gaining ground - with a 75 percent increase.
Voice search prioritizes different results as well. This can help local properties because the results are more likely to feature site locations than display search. Therefore, you are not competing with the booking companies and review sites to the same extent.
How is Voice Search Different from Display Search?
Voice search questions are different from the searches done from a desktop computer. People think differently when they type than when they verbally ask a question.
This means you have to optimize your website for voice search differently than you would for traditional SEO. Your keywords need to be more conversational. For instance, questions might include:
Alexa, where is the nearest Marriott hotel?
Siri, which Orlando hotel is closest to Disney World?
Mycroft, how much is a 3-star hotel near me?
Cortana, what’s the most romantic b&b in Vermont?
People are looking for immediate results. They’re less likely to perform a second or third search when asking their voice assistant. Therefore, obtaining the “position zero” is increasingly important. Additionally, unlike on desk search, position zero is more likely to result in a customer transaction than it would be on a desktop computer.
Additionally, people use voice search in different contexts than they do typed browsing. Desktop use is largely a solitary activity while asking an assistant is often done when others are around. People often engage with a voice assistant at home, in a restaurant, or in the office while in groups.
What Keywords do Hotels Need for Voice Search?
Keyword research for voice search is different. For one thing, users ask more questions when using an assistant. While informational questions are the most common type of search (“who starred in League of Legends?”) as people become more comfortable with the technology, they ask more transactional questions.
The long tail becomes more important when people ask questions aloud. While 2 word queries are the most frequent typed search query, 3 words are most common in voice queries. Further, the long tail is used at a higher rate with 9 word queries not uncommon.
In addition, voice based questions use more filler words than do typed ones. For instance, a user might type in “Miami hotels” but would ask their voice assistant “Which Miami hotels are near the Convention Center?”
Thus, keyword research is different. You’ll want to determine which question based keywords are the most popular. Google tools such as knowledge graph, knowledge panel, knowledge box, featured snippets, and rich answers give you the keys to the kingdom. SemRush and Moz have developed keyword research tools to help businesses take advantage of the new keyword environment.
How Can Hotels Optimize with New Content Strategies?
Google’s Hummingbird update allowed the search engine to deliver more natural language results in preparation for the voice search revolution. Hotels must now prioritize natural language optimization if they wish to compete in the new environment.
One way to rank for multiple question keywords is to develop a significant FAQ page. Keep the answers short because the average voice result is 29 words.
In your general content, use questions in your subheads. This lets Google know that an answer will follow.
Make sure your content is easily understandable. Aim for a Fleishman-Kincaid score of about 8. Readability has the added advantage of helping you convert typed searches into guests as well.
Travelers are also using voice search to find out about deals. Questions like “what hotels in Fort Lauderdale are offering weekend specials” are huge. Therefore, make sure you feature your special offers in natural language.
Finally, searches including the words “near me” have grown by 500% in the past two years. And, longer “near me” searches are up even more dramatically. For instance, near me today and tonight questions are up 900%. You can optimize for hyper-local results by including your address clearly multiple times throughout your content and by including information on local tourist hot spots which provides the search engine additional localization information.
Adding informational, navigational, and transactional pages to your site can help search engines find the answers to long-tail questions. Guides to local hot spots, customer service information, and hotel information can all help provide needed answers.
How Do You Update Your Website Structure for Voice Search?
Your website's technical details are as important as your content.
Consider modifying your website’s architecture for voice search. Is information placed in logical silos? You must also have an easily searchable site map. Let search engines find answers quickly and easily.
Structured data replaces metadata for voice search results. This is behind the scenes website code that allows the search engines to display answers in a specific way. It also provides “richer” information, not relying on single keywords.
Your site needs to be mobile friendly and load quickly in order to have a chance at showing up in position zero.
Is Google My Business Important?
In traditional SEO, links are the keys to the kingdom. Google My Business often plays that role for voice search.
GMB has been important in display search for a while now. It is the only way to appear in the coveted “three pack.” This becomes even more important for voice search because you are now essentially competing for a “one pack.”
You can optimize your GMB listing by including as many details, photos, and videos as are allowed. Building citations can also improve your chances at appearing at the top of a search.
It is also important to garner as many positive visitor reviews as possible. Let your guest know that if they are satisfied, they can help you out by leaving their 5-star impressions on Google Places. You should also give them explicit directions on how to do so. You can do this by providing in-room information or by following up with guests by email.
Google Actions and Alexa Skills for Hotels
Just as mobile apps became popular when people started using their phones to find information, developing Google Actions and Alexa Skills can help with voice search.
Google Actions are website source code in the form of JSON files. Action packages allow you to start a dialogue with guests. Actions are triggered when someone says “hey Google, talk to X” where X is your Action. You can develop actions that let users call your hotel by voice, send you a text message, or find information about your destination.
Similarly, Amazon has developed “Skills” that help those using Alexa. You can allow guests to make reservations as well as provide virtual in-room concierge services using stand alone or established services.