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You may have heard about Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant, but that doesn’t mean you really understand what they are, how they work or why they might be relevant to your campground. While the technology has been around for several years, it hasn’t really taken off until the past year or two, so it’s common to not know much about it.
By the time you’re finished reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of digital assistants, voice search technology and how your RV Park can benefit from adapting to the times early.
What is Voice Search?
Before we can talk about anything else, we have to discuss what this technology actually is. Voice-based search is exactly what it sounds like: Users speak a key phrase that “wakes up” the virtual assistant and then speak the topic they wish to search for. It’s like being able to operate your computer’s search engine by simply talking to it.
Typically, people perform these searches by asking the virtual assistant a question or giving it a specific task such as, “Find the best campsites near me,” or, “Alexa, can you show me where to purchase an RV?” The assistants will then perform the equivalent of a search engine operation and give the user the best, most relevant options. Users can then choose to visit the websites of these businesses, dictate an email or have the assistant start a call from phone numbers listed.
Who is Using This Technology?
Understanding the tech and actually using it are two very different things. Most campground owners are of the mindset that the younger generations mainly use digital personal assistants and voice commands. This isn’t exactly a wrong assumption because the age bracket of 18 to 29 is undoubtedly the most significant demographic utilizing this technology.
However, it’s important to note that over 60 percent of people between the ages of 30 and 50 also now use voice-based applications, and at least 45 percent of people 54 and older are beginning to use mobile personal assistants regularly as well.
Because of the sudden rise in popularity, these applications have become more sophisticated than you may realize. The speech recognition error rates have dramatically dropped, so it’s easier than ever for people to speak their questions directly to the phone or smart speaker rather than fumbling with a smartphone screen.
The Future of Voice Search
Currently, digital personal assistants exist almost entirely in smartphones and smart speakers. However, as the demand and popularity grow, this is likely to change. In the same way that cars, kitchen appliances and televisions now feature Bluetooth compatibility and touchscreen menus, pretty soon these digital assistants will be an everyday part of life.
From an RV Park standpoint, this means that people could end up searching for your business anywhere, at any time and without the restrictions of using a phone or computer, and all of this could happen in the near future.
Why You Should Pay Attention to This Tech
Right now, about 20 percent of American households own a smart speaker, and industry experts say that number will skyrocket to almost 60 percent by 2020. In addition to that, the Pew Research Center says that nearly 80 percent of Americans own a smartphone now. As of January 2018, people performed at least one billion voice searches every month via these devices. These are the kinds of statistics that businesses in every industry should be paying attention to.
You might be thinking that there’s no way you should need to change your online presence to accommodate this new search function, but the surprising truth is that speaking a search query is entirely different from typing one into a text box.
How to Prepare For Voice Marketing
There are a few major ways that voice input searches differ from traditional text-based searches.
The first is called “query length.” This means how long the search sentence is. Voice searches tend to be longer and structured like a natural sentence, but typed searches tend to be short and direct, and they are usually only a few words.
Consider this example. If you’re looking for RV parks in a search engine, you might type “best RV park” or “RV parks TX.” However, if you’re talking to a digital assistant like Siri, you’re more likely to fall into natural speech patterns. This means you’re more likely to say something like, “Hey Siri, can you find the best RV parks near me?”
Because of this, optimizing your website for keywords will be a bit different. Instead of only targeting the shortest, most direct phrases, sites that include more natural, voice-friendly keywords will see better results. This includes using longer phrases and filler words as well as incorporating some question-style phrases.
In the previous example, we looked at how text-based searches usually take the shortest, most direct approach. Often, this is at the expense of clarity. Searching for “RV parks TX”does not indicate if the person is looking for a place to stay or just seeking general information.
In a voice search, a person is more likely to articulate specifics like, “Where is the nearest RV park with available space this weekend?” By tailoring your advertising and website to be more specific, your business will become more relevant during a voice-based search.
More Local Focus
The majority of voice-based queries are made through smartphones, and data shows that these searches are significantly more likely to be local. Local searches can bring up results that allow people to make calls, book reservations and get directions straight from the search engine’s main page. Anytime that users can access exactly what they need in a streamlined way, you’re far more likely to gain a customer.
This means that websites that keep their local and business listings consistently updated with correct and detailed information will ultimately get more business than those that don’t. This also means that it should be a top priority for you to keep an up-to-date, professional presence on third-party sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Voice Marketing Optimization Can Give Your Business an Edge
The trends are clear. Digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are only going to increase in popularity as time goes on. The question isn’t whether you should start optimizing for voice-based searches; it’s how you should begin the optimization process. Getting ahead of the curve on this will not only boost your rankings for search engine queries overall, but it will give you a leg up on your competitors as well.