Screenless Search Marketing Essentials – Your Practical Guide

The screen-less search marketing opportunity is likely to be bigger than you think. With a market size expected to reach into the billions over the next couple of years, now is the right time to start investing resource into screen-less search marketing.

If you are thinking that screen-less search marketing is another name for voice search optimisation (or VSO), there is actually a bigger picture than voice search alone. This post explores the screen-less search marketing essentials in a practical way so that you can look at applying them to your business marketing mix.

Isn’t Screen-less Search Another Name for Voice Search?

No, however, voice search is one of the biggest current opportunities within the screen-less search niche for business. A lot of coverage on voice search interchanges the terms and topics adding to this assumption that they are the same, but there are important differences and opportunity to discover which I cover in this post.

Screen-less search encompasses more than voice alone. Technology changes including; virtual reality / augmented reality, retinal displays, hologram plus projection technology, and even synaptic interfaces are upon us, and many businesses are already effectively marketing many of them.

Screen-less Search Marketing and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) is the creation of a three-dimensional computer generated environment which provides the user with a seemingly real way to interact within a simulated setting.

Whilst screens can be used as part of headsets and VR delivery, entire virtual reality spaces, bodysuits, projections, and sensory systems can also be deployed creating a screen-free VR experience.

Virtual Reality may still seem far-fetched for many businesses but the application of VR is growing fast, not least of all within the ‘try before you buy‘ product and service business space, eLearning and education niches, plus the tourist and estate agent arenas.

You can see the growth in search demand for Virtual Reality with Google Trends and the 2017 peak levels experienced, which is expected to build momentum in 2018 and beyond.

Optimising for Virtual Reality (VR)

VR optimisation is much like video SEO. By thinking about VR SEO in this way, you start to look at the practical implications, and it becomes a lot less daunting.

Google has created VR view so that you can embed 360-degree video into your website, then the traditional video marketing tactics still apply, including the below:

  • Create web-ready file sizes (keeping download times to a minimum)
  • Include supportive text around the VR content to help theme, position, and add context
  • Name the VR file in a logical, descriptive way
  • Maximise embed code elements for search understanding and ranking

Extra optimisation considerations include:

  • Optimising title tags
  • Selecting appropriate hosting options (an obvious choice being YouTube and then website embedding)
  • Content transcripts to add to understanding and accessibility content digesting
  • Encouraging social sharing, PR, and related content buzz (including link signals)
  • Considering VR content time/length to match average user engagement (<1 minute a common statistic)
              Source: Wistia.

It is also important to provide alternative content types for users to help guide and educate them,  helping users get started using/interacting with virtual reality content. This often includes blog content, ‘how to’ guides, tips, FAQs, and more. A tiered approach will help broaden the visibility and impact of the VR content.

If you would like to delve deeper into VR SEO, I’ve also written a recent post on the topic that you can see here.

Voice Search Essentials

Firstly, it’s important to say that voice search is not new, in fact, Google first included a ‘search by voice’ feature in it’s iOS app as early as 2008, however what is new is a significant increase in adoption, with Google reporting a more than double increase over 2014.

Source: Ok Google – how do I optimize for voice search?

Voice search is the largest current opportunity for business to take advantage of for marketing gains, and it’s easy to see why. It provides faster ‘on-the-go’ access to information, plus technological advancements are enabling access to voice search at home, in the car, within wearable technology, and almost everywhere else you may require it.

Other benefits of voice search are that it facilitates more natural discovery of information in a humanistic and conversational manner, as well as an increasingly integrated and seamless search experience.

Voice Search Optimisation

There are many ways to optimise for voice search, some of the most frequently used include the tactics below.

#1 – Cater for conversational search and user intent. Voice queries are longer tail, most contain locational or entertainment intent, many are also informal by comparison to text-based search. With this in mind, you need to consider the intention behind the query more (informational, transactional, locational etc.), and consider factors like regionality, and associated audience demographics including education levels, interest areas, and more. Voice search by nature is conversational, so people are expecting the information provided to match their initial conversation driven query.

#2 – Provide targeted answers to common user needs. If you look to complete one voice search action, ensure that you gather data on all of the key questions your audience is seeking help with and that you answer them succinctly outside of a traditional FAQ page. This will provide persona-driven content, matching your audience needs, and helping to increase presence in Google rich results (in this case Google Answers) delivering results to many of the voice search queries.

#3 – Think local. For example; ‘how to’, ‘near me’, ‘close by’, plus other variations are great voice search themes to target for your product or service based offering. Most voice searches are completed on mobile devices (whilst on the move) and a growing number of personal assistants/smart home speakers (aka Amazon Echo dot etc.) with the intention to solve a problem relevant to your location – example ’emergency locksmith’ as a mobile search would prioritise local SEO factors assuming location specific intent. The more you can factor in location intent and associated optimisation strategies the better.

#4 – Improve content understanding. In this instance, I’m referring to search engines/machines understanding, interpreting, and therefore ranking your content for voice. With the increase in variations of search queries related to voice commands, comes the added challenge to help content rank for greater volumes of this new search demand and opportunity. The key actions to impact this understanding and breadth of relevancy include; marking up all relevant content with structured data / schema.org, adding more depth and key term variation to your content, and refreshing content based on changing search behavior and trends.

5# – Optimise for mobile. Focus on mobile-friendly content delivery, speed improvements, and associated areas (like accelerated mobile pages / AMP) so that content can perform more effectively on mobile devices and in this content for voice-based search niche.

Projection and ‘All Display’ Optimisation

From holograms to projection mapping, and other forms of displaying information outside of the typical screen-based environment, marketers need to consider all size, all display approaches for rendering content to succeed in this expanding screen-less marketplace.

Projection mapping, also known as video mapping and spatial augmented reality, is a projection technology used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into a display surface for video projection. These objects may be complex industrial landscapes, such as buildings, small indoor objects or theatrical stages.

Source: Wikipedia.org.

‘All Display’ Optimisation

With the rise of the global iStreet, plus the differences between country technological advancements and nuances in this area of content display, the more you focus on all environment display options the better.

The important primary consideration is making your website responsive in its design/content delivery. This will enable effective display of content regardless of screen, or screen-less size or dimensions.

You will also want to consider the ability for users to have clean and clear content views, with the added ability to access more depth of content value, should they choose to. Whilst tabbed content and expandable div content may not be the ideal solution for search engines, they can provide useful content extras for people expecting to access information from a single landing page.

Whilst not unique to a projection based, or all display optimisation, accessibility has added importance when factoring in the intention to deliver content regardless of delivery. A useful resource for this (to enable a site crawl, and specific actions to fix) is the w3c validator tool.

w3c validator

What’s Next?

My intention that the information in this article has provided you with some immediate actions that can support new business success in the growing screen-less search market.

I also hope that you can see some of the nuances between screen-less search and voice search, enabling you to derive greater value from this bigger opportunity.

[Featured Image credit: Pexels.com]

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About Lee Wilson

Lee Wilson is the Head of SEO for Vertical Leap, a UK Search Marketing and Digital Agency that offers the most effective and thorough search marketing service in the UK, helping companies maximise their online visibility.