How to optimize your online store for voice commerce

Posted by Irina Weber on 9 Jun, 2024
View comments Marketing
Shopping using voice commands is growing in popularity. Make sure your site is ready.

Voice commerce.

Image: antonbe from Pixabay

With the growing popularity of Chat GPT and voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, people will increasingly become more comfortable with using voice commands for queries and shopping. It’s a trend that’s likely to grow and have a big impact on ecommerce.

In this article, you'll learn more about voice commerce and how it differs from traditional search; its benefits; and best optimization and SEO practices to transform your online store into a voice-activated destination point for shoppers. We’ll also cover some of the challenges this technology presents.

What is voice commerce?

Voice commerce, also known as voice-activated shopping or v-commerce, refers to using voice-enabled devices or virtual assistants to search for products, make purchases, and interact with brands through speech commands.

Although voice commerce is a relatively new concept, it's gaining popularity among consumers, and businesses are investing in it. Over 107 million smart speakers were shipped globally in 2023, and continued growth is expected this year.

Voice commerce is the future of online shopping. It’s changing how people shop online and becoming an established part of the ecommerce industry.

It's all about improving the convenience and accessibility of online shopping for consumers, who can interact with virtual assistants using natural language and voice commands.  It allows people to skip the usual process of typing, scrolling, and clicking, making the online shopping experience faster, more convenient and streamlined.

With the help of speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP), customers can enjoy seamless communication with virtual assistants. It’s like having a personal shopping assistant who is always available to cater to your needs.

Voice commerce also brings improved accessibility, offering a much more convenient experience to people with visual or other impairments.

Best practices to optimize your voice commerce strategy

As more and more customers leverage smart devices and voice assistants, online retailers are adopting and taking proactive steps to optimize for voice commerce.

The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to optimize for voice commerce which don’t require advanced technology. You can do it using any good e-commerce website builder.

Here are 6 actionable tips for ecommerce businesses looking to build a seamless voice-enabled shopping experience for customers.

1. Incorporate natural language and conversational phrases

Understanding the difference between voice and textual search is a key factor in successfully adopting voice search in your ecommerce site.

People speak differently to the way they write. Queries addressed to a voice assistant are conversational and generally longer, more like an interaction with another person.

It’s important when creating your content to find and use the right words and phrases - those that people might use when searching through voice. Longer phrases should be used naturally, and you may need to adjust your SEO strategy to incorporate long tail keywords.

Someone wanting to find out about business insurance might just type in “types of business insurance”, but when using a voice command will more likely say  “what type of business insurance do I need?”.

Natural language.

Image: USA Business Insurance

Incorporating natural language and conversational phrases in website content can also make it more engaging and relatable for users.

Many voice queries start with common question words such as “who”, “what”, “where”, “how”, and you should build this into your strategy.  Use a tool like Wordtracker to find the questions that people are searching on in your niche and adapt your content accordingly. 

Make sure your navigation matches question strings people might commonly use in voice queries.

When dealing with different geographical locations you should adapt your language and terminology to the local audience you're targeting.

FAQs are one of the most effective forms of content for answering users’ queries. You should use the kind of language people would use when asking about  your product or service.

Lamber Goodnow injury legal firm have a great set of FAQs using conversational language such as, “when should I speak with a personal injury attorney following an accident?”.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Image: Lamber Goodnow Injury Lawyers

2. Optimize product listings

When you optimize your online store for voice commerce, you should create clear and well-detailed product descriptions that voice-controlled assistants can easily understand. Use concise and clear language while highlighting your products' key features and benefits.

It’s important to include specific details like colors, gender, dimensions, sizes, and other characteristics that consumers might specify when using voice commands. Use bullet points or simple sentences to show what's good about your product.

Make sure you include all relevant information about your products in their descriptions, titles, and categorization tags. Avoid making any assumptions, and provide all the necessary details clearly and concisely.

Product listing.

Image: Tasc

When you write about your products for voice assistants, keep it short and helpful. Tell people what they need to know and use conversational language that sounds natural, like you're talking to a friend. Make sure your words match what people ask for when they use voice search.

Use immersive storytelling techniques to captivate and interest your customers in your offerings. When you tell a story about your products, you should paint a clear and engaging picture in customers' minds. That will build a memorable experience that keeps them coming back for more.

3. Create a voice search-friendly user interface

Make sure your website is easy to navigate using voice search, with an intuitive and voice-friendly site structure and layout. Organize your content logically, use heading tags effectively, and ensure all interactive elements work with voice commands.

Voice-activated buttons and links can help users add items to their carts, complete transactions, or reorder previously purchased items. Ensure they are large enough to select easily, especially on mobile devices.

Voice commerce provides a new convenience for people with visual or physical impairments. Consider making your online store ADA-compliant. Integrate voice-controlled features or keyboard-only navigation to help users quickly and easily find what they want without needing to type or click menus.

This example from Lakers Store gives clear buttons for Keyword Navigation and Voice Commands.

Lakers navigation.

Image: Lakers Store

4. Integrate voice commerce features

To improve your customers' shopping experience, consider integrating voice-based features into your e-commerce store.

Ways to do this include voice-based payment options and voice-activated shopping carts. You can also improve customer satisfaction by offering personalized recommendations and a streamlined checkout process.

For the more technically minded, you can develop custom voice skills specific to your particular business requirement. The big players such as Amazon Alexa provide step-by-step instructions for this.

Smart devices can be beneficial in providing personalized voice assistance and human-like interactions while making the order-tracking process faster and more efficient. By integrating chatbots into your voice commerce strategy, you can offer instant customer support and excellent online customer service, making the shopping journey smoother.

5. Optimize for mobile

Voice commerce often happens on mobile devices, so ensuring your online store is optimized for mobile and loads quickly is essential.

Page speed: People expect to find information easily whether through a traditional or voice query, so good page speed is important. Search engines will prioritize sites that provide a good experience for the user, and page speed is a factor which will influence the way it ranks your site.
Responsive design: Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, with responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes and devices. This means you can give a good user experience across all devices.

You can use Google’s free Page Speed Insights tool or a number of other free tools for an assessment and actionable suggestions on how to improve loading speeds and fix technical issues on your site.

6. Local search

Voice search is super easy for quick, local ‘near me’ searches, especially on mobile devices. Research shows 22% of voice search queries are for local content. 

Queries are often more intent-based, with voice used for a more immediate need such as ordering take-away food. Simply saying “I want a large Margherita pizza with extra black olives” is much easier than clicking on a menu, selecting your choices and checking out.

Voice assistants use local directories for local queries. Google Assistant will use Google Business profile for information, but other voice assistants use a variety of other local directories such as Yelp or Bing Places.

Make sure you have a presence on the main local listings completed in full - name, full address and location, contacts etc - and make sure these are kept up to date.  These details show your relevance to the local search query.

Risks and challenges

Voice search can provide a seamless, super convenient user experience. It's likely to play an important role in ecommerce going forwards as the adoption of voice assistants and smart technologies continues to grow. However, there are still some issues which need to be addressed, to build people's trust and confidence in using voice commands to make purchases.

A PWC study in 2018 found that trust remains a barrier for voice assistant shoppers. Concerns expressed included whether the voice assistant could correctly interpret and process the order, and hesitation in sending payment through a voice assistant.

While the capabilities of the technology continue to improve, there is at the same time an increasing awareness of the way tech companies use our data, giving rise to privacy concerns.

If the technology evolves and is able to address these concerns and increase customer trust, there's every reason to believe voice commerce will continue to grow and to play an increasingly important role in ecommerce.

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