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Sensory Search and SEO: How Visual and Voice Search Queries Drive Audience Engagement

74% of consumers say that traditional text-based keyword searches are inefficient in helping them find the right online results, according to a report from Slyce.it.

With the advent of smartwatches and virtual assistants, search queries are becoming increasingly specific and contextual. A proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices—physical objects featuring IP addresses for internet connectivity—has driven a fundamental need for queries to be both interactive and useful in-the-moment.

A new paradigm has emerged: Sensory Search, which is an umbrella term encompassing two distinct disciplines: visual search and voice search. Gartner predicts that by 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support these new interactions will see as much as a 30% increase in digital engagement.

Visual Search

Google Images can now use an image (taken with a smartphone camera) as a search query. Given that images are returned for 26.8% of search queries on Google, this technology also paves the way for future developments in augmented and virtual reality experiences.

Visual Search Optimization Tips:

  • Add multiple images to each topical page.

  • Be conscious of user intent when placing images on each page

  • Organizing keyword groups thematically with specific images can bolster optimization when applied to image alt tags, titles and captions. Image file names are an additional resource for relevant keyword real estate.

  • Customize stock images to ensure they are not identical to the hundreds of other instances of that exact image. Search engines will have more difficulty understanding an image if it is replicated across the web in different contexts.

  • Track image search traffic to identify any increase in demand for a particular file.

Voice Search

According to Edison Research, 65% of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home cannot imagine going back to life without a smart speaker. While the reporting capabilities of specific voice searches are currently limited, brands should proactively craft the way they “sound”, especially when communicating messages directly to the listener (rather than rely on the default text-to-speech configuration).

Voice Search Optimization Tips:

  • To clarify information for users, use consistent content summaries and concise headlines when writing speakable structured data.

  • Break content into individual sentences when speakable structured data is utilized at the beginning of a page. Doing so will read more clearly for text to speech (TTS).

  • Create a balanced user experience by organizing content sections of speakable structured data lasting 20-30 seconds, equal to about two or three sentences each.

Technical SEO for Visual and Voice Search

Innovative search tools necessitate efficient browser load times, which can be mitigated by increasing pre-rendered content to significantly reduce delay. Additionally, pre-rendered content should be delivered to search engine user agents as structured data or semantic search, which enables a search engine to infer context and intent.

As the pillars of sensory search, visual and voice search together are creating a platform for more engaging communication between brands and audiences. As multimedia search options expand into every step of the user journey, brands must continue to evolve to remain seen and heard.

Is your website content optimized beyond text-only search queries? HDMZ can help prioritize your messages and plan your keyword efforts: drop us a line!

By: Valerie Lentz
Topics: Google Images Sensory Search SEO Visual Search Voice Search