Is Your Hotel Website Optimized for Voice Searches?

Article Highlights
  • Voice searches represent up to 12% of all web searches
  • Voice searches could be a major disruptor to Google’s dominance in the search market
  • Voice searches are predominantly done on mobile devices, which use a variety of search engines
  • Voice searches tend to be more conversational and long-tail, which impacts your keyword strategy
  • Voice searches are often made “in-the-moment,” which could impact your volume of last-minute bookings

Most of us have experimented with using voice searches on our smartphones, with mixed results. You’ve probably also seen voice assistant devices, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, advertised on TV or online. Maybe you, or some of your tech-savvy friends, already own one?

Voice recognition and voice searches are gaining in popularity. According to a 2017 Google study, 73% of consumers would like to be able to complete tasks by speaking to a digital assistant. And, according to Tractica, there will be over 1.6 billion digital assistant users by 2020.

We’re already well on our way to that number:

  • 60% of all web searches are now done on a mobile device. If that seems irrelevant then… wait for it …
  • 20% of searches in the Google App on Android are now done by voice
  • Assuming this is the same on other mobile devices (e.g. Siri on Apple), then as many as 12% of all web searches on any device are now voice searches (0.2 x 0.6 = 12%).

This is only going to increase as more voice assistant devices become available, and as voice recognition software improves. Hotel marketers need to start preparing for the inevitable and become more familiar with voice searches, their potential impact on SEO, and how to optimize their websites for them.

voice searches can be done on a google home

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1. Voice Search Could be a Major Disruptor to Google’s Stronghold in Search Results

It’s hard to believe, but the way we think about search engine optimization could change dramatically. That’s because voice searches predominantly happen on mobile devices, and mobile devices and voice assistants use a variety of search engines. Android devices use Google. Apple (Siri) uses Spotlight and Wolfram-Alpha. And Amazon’s Alexa uses a combination of A9 and Bing.

The iPhone is the top selling smartphone by far, and the iPad is even more dominant in the tablet market. In addition, the recent alliance between Microsoft and Amazon, which allows their competing voice assistants to now talk to each other, gives Microsoft access to searches on the leading voice assistant out there, Amazon’s Echo.

While it’s early days, if Apple continues to dominate smartphone and tablet sales, and Amazon’s Echo does the same in the voice assistant market, then Google seems bound to lose search volume share.

iphone's siri enables voice searches

2. Conversational Keywords

The way we think about targeted keywords could also change. That’s because the language we use when doing a voice search is different to the language we use when we do a traditional search.

Over the last 20 years, consumers have become more search-savvy, using long-tail keywords to hone in on the specific information they are looking for. Web marketers, in turn, have adapted, optimizing their website content for these long-tail keywords.

But with voice searches, these keywords will become much more conversational – what some are calling “long-tail+.” Instead of typing “hotels in St. Louis” into a search engine, someone might ask their smartphone or voice assistant to “show me a list of hotels in St. Louis.” They might even ask, “Where’s the nearest hotel to me?” once they arrive in St. Louis, searching for a hotel in real-time.

voice searches make it easy to get information on the go

3. Add an FAQ Page to Your Website

FAQ pages are not very common on hotel websites today, but they will become increasingly important as voice searches increase. The nature of long-tail+, conversational keywords, is that they are often asked in the form of a question. This will make your FAQ page an ideal place to start optimizing for voice searches.

With that said, you shouldn’t isolate all Questions and Answers to an FAQ page. Keeping specific questions on pages related to the topic increases the value of the page. For example, you can answer questions about your hotel’s proximity to well-known landmarks on your “Things to Do” page.

Your content for voice searches should also read naturally. Be careful not to turn everything into a question and answer. Imagine reading an entire page written in the following format:

“Where in downtown is the hotel? The hotel is located at the intersection of Front Street and Peter Street. When can I check in to the hotel? Check in time for the hotel is 2pm.”

This starts to sound more like an interrogation, and nobody wants to read copy like that. Write for people, not search engines. Use the natural questions a searcher would ask in your writing, and provide simple answers to those questions.

4. Make Sure Your Room Inventory is Up-To-Date

While last minute bookings are no doubt a big part of your business today, they will become increasingly so with voice search. That’s because voice searches are more instant and “in the moment.”

Expect to see travel shoppers searching for an available room while they are literally standing outside your property. For this reason, you’ll need to ensure your room inventory is kept up-to-date, across all third-party booking channels.

These are just a few things to start thinking about to prepare your hotel for the inevitable uptick in voice searches. By being well prepared, you’ll be able to better service travel shoppers using their smartphones and voice assistants to search for hotels, while your competitors scramble to catch up.

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