What Does Voice Search Mean for App Development?

I am sure you’ve seen the commercials by now. Maybe even used it yourself, since voice search is what we use in our everyday lives. If not, I’m talking about Siri, voiced by none other than Jennifer Aniston’s character from “Friends.” No doubt that Apple has created amazing devices with iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. So, the question isn’t really whether they’re good phones (probably one of the best on market), but rather how does this big shift to voice search impact app marketers? Let’s take a look at some numbers first before diving in deeper.

According to BI Intelligence reports, 20% of searches will be done using voice by 2020. A year ago, it was less than 10%.

This will have a huge impact on how you do your App Store Optimization (ASO) because you don’t even have to type when searching for something. And when Android 6.0 Marshmallow comes out in the fall, that number is expected to grow even further.   

“It’s no wonder that mobile marketers are panicking,” says Srikanth Srivastava, founder of Search-Marketing Automation. “The small search volume could result in lack of visibility or failure to rank leading to loss of potential installs.”

However, not all hope is lost if you want to be noticed by these new users, which will inevitably come looking for mobile app development companies. For example, many still think that ASO will continue to grow in importance since this is how people find apps to install on their smartphones.

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“I believe that search engine visibility for organic app discovery will become even more important,” says Srivastava. “The advent of voice search means that the ‘keyword mindset’ must be replaced with a more contextual, semantic understanding of user intent.”   

But if you’re planning to do your own keyword research, it’s time to say goodbye. Chances are your competitors know much better than you what potential customers are searching for when looking for an app like yours. This is why you’ll need to leave keywords behind and focus on “contextual connectives.”

For example, let’s say you have a weather app called “Weather Guide.” As the name suggests, your app has everything the user needs to know about weather. This includes current temperatures and forecasts for different cities. When getting ready for search marketing, you’ll need to look at all the word combinations that could be connected with these phrases.

“Weather forecast Los Angeles” or “weather today, New York.” App marketers should focus on connecting these two concepts because voice searches will follow this pattern.

For example, if I needed to know what the weather like outside right now is, I’d ask Google Assistant, Siri or Cortana something along the lines of:

What’s it like out there?

This tells you how people are asking questions – via a question. It also gives you an idea about how you need to structure your phrase clusters.

According to what the experts are saying, this is a major shift for many app marketers who spend hours upon hours on SEO. You’ll have to find different ways of getting noticed by potential users who are looking for apps via voice search. This means you have to know how people ask questions through their devices and create app market campaigns based on those phrases.

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As always, the first step would be thorough keyword research before starting with anything else. Once keywords are chosen, craft optimized content that will appeal to these future users. After that, focus on social media distribution because it’s the fastest way of making new connections in this crowded space.   

“The ability of social networks like Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Kick and others to accommodate voice input will play a major part in how quickly voice search overtakes text-based search,” says Nader Asha, organizer of Word Camp London 2016.

And finally, invest time into making sure your app has everything it needs to succeed. According to the data gathered over the years by Sensor Tower, apps with video are more successful on average. So, if you want your app to stand out from the crowd, consider adding this feature for users who are looking for services via voice searches.

“The way we find information is changing fast – people no longer have hundreds of apps that they rely on daily,” says Srivastava. “People now use four or five core apps that serve/connect them with almost everything they need. These apps are where people go for information on what’s happening around them, weather, traffic, news updates, health issues and others.”

“App marketers would do well to focus on being one of the core apps that their users depend on for daily tasks or solving problems.”   

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