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Voice-Driven Commerce: How To Design A Conversational Website for Effortless Online Shopping

7 min read
Rebecca Barnatt-Smith

Written by Rebecca Barnatt-Smith

12 September, 2023

Voice-activated shopping has become the newest craze amongst modern-day digital natives. After smart speaker sales exceeded a whopping 150 million units in 2020 alone, the days of text-based searches are coming to an end. 

Whether you’re equipped with an Amazon Alexa or iPhone’s trusty Siri bot, we’ve all asked our devices to access the internet via voice search once or twice. However, did you know that it’s now possible to complete an entire purchase without lifting a finger?

30% of browsing sessions post-Covid have been screenless, and experts suggest that number will only rise in the coming years.

So what does this mean for online store owners? In a highly competitive ecommerce sector, small business owners must be prepared to add voice search to their list of UX priorities. As the competition heats up, sites that fail to address voice-activated demands will fall short of conversions. 

“This is going to make a huge impact on a business’s digital marketing because the results of voice searches are even narrower than web searches. Only three results show up for mobile voice searches and just one result for smart speaker voice searches — not exactly great news for most businesses,” says Andrew Oziemblo, Founder & CEO of Chicago SEO Geeks. “This means that unless you can adapt your digital marketing efforts for voice search and get ahead of your competition, you’ll risk falling out of voice search results altogether.”

With this in mind, let’s jump into a voice-driven future of ecommerce and learn how you can prepare for Alexa to score your next sale.

Is Voice Search On The Rise In The Ecommerce Sector? 

As more of us purchase smart speakers, virtual assistants, and voice-activated devices, it’s no wonder that voice searches are quickly increasing in popularity.

Combining this with the number of people accessing the internet via mobile devices, we have a completely new generation of online consumers. As tech evolves, so does the way we access and interact with online applications and, of course, the e-commerce industry.

With over 71% of online consumers now reporting that they prefer to ask Google questions using a voice-activated device, it could be time for the ecommerce sector to switch up its content marketing game, UX accessibility and the types of consumers it’s aiming to target.

(Image source: Oberlo)

Here are some of the key factors powering the uptake in voice searching. From faster search times to on-the-go convenience, voice search offers benefits for business owners and their audiences. 

1. Cutting Search Time In Half

Did you know that the average typing speed for an online consumer is roughly 40 words per minute? This can be cut in half using a voice-activated searching device. 

Think about how quality you can talk in comparison to how quality you can type. If you’re aiming to access results in a timely manner, having a quick conversation with your device could save you writing out your questions. 

This poses a great benefit for online store owners, too, as speedy voice browsers reach the checkout at a much quicker pace than a traditional lead. Voice searches are usually completed with intention, so your lead is twice as likely to convert. Optimising your site map for an improved user experience on a voice device is a great place to start.

2. Technological Convenience

Voice searching follows a natural, technological progression in the online world. In today’s digital climate, it has never been easier to order takeaway food, your favourite ASOS dress, or download a new film. 

Better still, if you’re out and about with your hands full but desperately need to look up the address for a physical store/location, the ability to ‘speak’ to Siri saves time and effort typing up a search query. 

In a digital-first landscape, consumers crave convenience. If your audience can access your site by simply having a conversation with their voice-activated device, they are much more likely to stick around and complete their conversion.

3. Improving Mobile Searches 

Finally, let’s address mobile searches. Representing over 55% of all internet traffic, smartphone devices are utilised every day for online shopping.

This said many users find smaller screens difficult to navigate. With over a billion people living with a disability in America alone, voice search could change how we use our smartphones to interact with the online world. Enhancing hands-free searching and generating audio-powered results, voice search makes the mobile shopping experience more inclusive. 

How To Optimise Your Online Store For Voice Search

Now we’ve learnt about the benefits of voice-activated online shopping, let’s delve into the ins and outs of creating a conversational store design.

Learn the Difference Between Typed and Spoken Searches

One of the first steps you can take to improve your conversational design is to learn the differences between text and spoken searches. We already know that the way we use voice search differs from traditional typed searches, but is the search content itself different too? 

The answer is yes. While we may only use 3-5 words in a traditional typed search, a voice search is much more geared to a conversational tone and contain double the amount of keywords. 

For example, if you were searching for the best bakery in town via the computer, your search may look something like this: ‘Best Bakery Lincoln’. Whereas a voice search for the same request could appear as, “Can tell me where to find the best bakery in Lincoln?”

Therefore, when optimising your site content for voice search, ranking for conversational keywords is the way to go.

“Create messaging that reflects natural human speech when possible,” comments Hannah Trivette from NUVEW Web Solutions. “Your blog is a great space for talking about your products or services in a conversational way, which will naturally incorporate long-tail search terms and allow you to create question-and-answer-style posts.”

Restructure Your Current Content

While you may be eager to transform your online store into a voice search haven, don’t ditch your current content just yet. There are plenty of ways to optimise your past blog posts, product descriptions and even the checkout experience.

The key here is to take an audit of your current content and pinpoint the areas of your website most likely to be accessed via a voice search. 

Once you’ve chosen your most likely areas to receive voice search engagement, it’s time to start restructuring. Remove complicated keywords that are unlikely to be used in a voice search, and ensure that you answer questions at the top of your blog posts so that Google can find your results quickly. 

If your content provides a speedy call to action and can answer a searcher’s questions in just the first few lines of content, it is twice as likely to be picked up by Google’s algorithm. Why not also introduce a featured snippets section during your online store creation so that users can access information quickly in an FAQ-style format geared towards voice searchers? 

Target Question Keywords

Another way to ensure your content is ready for vogue search is to conduct a keyword review. It’s no secret that voice search is dominated by question keywords such as who, where, what and why, so ensure that your results not only include them but provide call-to-action style answers too.  

“Voice search queries are typically full questions rather than individual words, such as “What is digital marketing?” instead of just “digital marketing.” With this in mind, integrate questions you would expect a voice searcher to ask within your website copy,” says Adam Binder, CEO of Creative Click Media. “This makes it more likely that your website will show up as a top result the next time someone asks that question via voice search.”

If you want a better chance of ranking highly for your niche, you might also consider adding local keywords to your content strategy. Not only are 46% of voice searches aimed at localised businesses, but local keywords are much easier to rank for as there is less online competition. 

“When people are using voice search, it most likely means they are looking for instant information, so it is important for content to be optimised for local search results,” claims Nick Brucker, CEO and Founder of Sparq Designs. “Beyond keyword research, you can implement schemes on your site that will help search engines find information to give back to the user more quickly.”

Prioritising your target keyword use is a great way to ensure that your results continue to show up at the top of a Google voice search moving forward. 

A Voice-Driven Future Of Commerce

Taking a voice-activated approach to your site strategy could be your key to success in a newly digitalised e-commerce landscape. 

Introducing device-driven design could position your small business ahead of the curve in 2023, especially as we continue to welcome new ways of accessing the internet.

From VR-powered shopping to Alexa ordering your next Uber, it’s clear that the future of commerce is set for significant digital evolution. The question is, will you simply respond to the birth of hyperrealistic online shopping or help become one of the online stores leading the way forward?

Rebecca Barnatt-Smith

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