How often do you say, “Hey Google, Siri, or Alexa?” Have you discovered the magic and simplicity of voice search? And, is it driving leads to your real estate website? These AI personalities were birthed back in the 80s, but have finally come of age.
Voice search is changing the way we interact with technology and conduct online research. Every day, more people seek answers by talking to their voice-activated device. Asking all sorts of questions about local businesses. So, how do you ensure your real estate agency turns up for property related questions
The growth of voice search
Voice search is so darn convenient.
In 2018, a whopping 57 per cent of Australians said they’d already started using voice search on a regular basis. In fact, Google reports that 71 per cent of people with a voice-activated speaker say it’s just like talking to a friend.
My two young children have already made speaking their go-to form of assistance, and talk to a tablet device. A few weeks ago, I was amazed to overhear my youngest asking YouTube Kids to show her monster cartoons. But then the penny dropped. It made total sense. She’s still learning to read and write, so why not ask for help? That’s far easier for her – what a little genius! 😉
Try out voice commands on your device
Pick up your phone and ask your voice-controlled personal assistant the following;
- Tell me a joke.
- Where do you live?
- What are you made of?
- What are you doing this evening?
- Can you take me home?
Fun isn’t it? Feel free to share your answers or other fun questions in the comments below. The answers change every time.
Where can you find voice search?
Voice search is part of the first wave of artificial intelligence. You may not realise but you already have voice search in the palm of our hand.
Voice search is pretty much on every device that has an internet connection – your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and even desktop computers. But it’s the in-home assistant that’s helped voice search become habit-forming because Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa function solely by voice command.
Google reports that one in five mobile searches are voice-activated and that by 2020, this number is expected to increase to one in three.
It’s important to speak as clearly as possible when you ask Siri, Alexa, Google or Cortana a question, as these AI systems are self-learning and still evolving, but they are becoming more and more accurate every day. Computer engineers have developed clever speech recognition software that responds to natural (spoken) language, deciphering tonal intonations and word abbreviations in multiple languages.
Can your real estate website be found through voice search?
Google calls voice search the new playground for brands, and shares that 53 per cent of people with a voice-activated speaker are happy to receive information about deals, sales, and promotions.
People have already got into the habit of seeking information on local businesses. Have you? Questions such as “What’s the best Thai restaurant?” or “Where’s the nearest bicycle repair shop?”.
It seems fitting that questions about the real estate market or real estate agencies will get asked too. Asking your personal assistant to confirm what price a property sold for or to set a reminder for a midweek home open are just two ways to interact, but there will be plenty more.
What’s interesting is that the immediate next step after doing a voice search is to visit the web address of the recommended business or data source. So, ask yourself, how can you optimise your real estate website to answer the plethora of local property questions?
Why your real estate agency needs a voice search strategy
As artificial intelligence and machine learning evolves, more and more search query data will be stored to help surface answers faster.
“Voice search should be a key component of your SEO strategy.”
For example, when somebody asks their voice assistant to “Find a real estate agent near me’, and your agency comes up, their next actions will be tracked. If the tracking shows that they are happy with the result i.e. they spend time visiting several pages on your real estate website, or they don’t immediately ask the same question again, your real estate website will be logged as helpful for answering this very same question next time. Bingo!
How to optimisation your real estate website for voice search
All you need to do is optimise your real estate website to surface on the first page of Google’s search results page, and your website will be favoured by voice search assistants too.
Here’s some practical actions you can take:
1. List your real estate business in online directories
Google My Business, Yelp, True Local and other business listing platforms need to know that your business exists and where it’s located. You can set up accounts for free and it doesn’t take long to add your location and opening hours.
2. Seek out positive customer reviews
Google and other search platforms will favour real estate businesses with positive online reviews. Try using voice search to ask “Where’s the best Thai restaurant near me?” The result that comes back is for the business that has the highest star rating. Now try real estate. Need I say more!
3. Consider the most likely property-related voice-activated questions
‘Best’ is a common term used by voice searchers. We also know people speak to their voice assistant the same way they would a friend. So, they’re more likely to put a where/when/who/what/why question to Siri or Google.
Why not brainstorm ideas with your team and try them out on your device and see what happens. It could create a fun sales meeting!
With the help of an SEO expert, your real estate website can have these ‘long tail’ search results added to your blogs, informational pages and even your property listing descriptions.
Once you identify the most popular voice search phrases you can rank for them!
Some examples may include ‘What is my home worth?’ and ‘Should I sell via auction or private treaty?’. The user may be doing research but the search query could find articles from your real estate website’s blog and put your agency front and centre.
4. Be mobile-friendly
If people are using their mobile to search, your website needs to load fast and look great on mobile screen sizes. A real estate website upgrade may require some financial investment but given Google is now de-prioritising websites which aren’t mobile-friendly, it will be worth the expense to ensure people continue to find your site.
5. Create feature snippets
As mentioned above, your content needs to reflect the natural language people use when using voice search. You need to optimise your real estate website to show up in feature snippets. These are the paragraph-long answers Google sometimes surfaces when you ask a question. Again, your SEO and content team can help structure these within your website.
6. Is your phone number easy to find?
If your contact details are hidden on your website, then they are highly likely to be hidden for Google, Siri, Alexa and Cortina too. The name of the game is making frequently requested information as easy to find as possible, and most importantly that’s giving people a fast way to get in touch with you.
Do a voice search for your agency and check how easy it is to then find your phone number or contact form. Can these be found on smartphone screens? And can you click the phone number to immediately call you? Getting in touch with you should take no more than two steps at most.
7. Optimise your website for voice search
Optimising your real estate website for voice search queries is not an exact science, and the advice on best-practice principles change frequently. However, asking your digital marketing team to take the approach outlined above will make it as easy as possible for people living or working in your neighbourhoods to find your real estate website.
You may not understand what alt-tag fields, scheme markup and structured data are but you can work with your digital marketer and SEO expert to ensure that your website is structured in such as way that it will be favoured by voice search queries. An SEO optimised real estate website will make it easy for Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft search assistants to find the information they need when questioned over voice search.
Will voice search drive traffic to a real estate website?
Voice assistants are becoming part of everyday life and each week a new gadget with voice activated controls enters the market. Soon, even the phrase “Google it” may be a thing of the past, with more and more of us starting to say to each other, “Ask your phone”.