AI & Voice search an In-Depth look at the recent numbers and SEO effects

Artificial intelligence and voice search may once have seemed like fiction, but now are very real and it is affecting the affiliate marketing industry. The way we search and interact with sites is changing, but what will this mean for your affiliate site?

The Rise of Voice Search

With the increased use and popularity of virtual assistants, voice search is becoming much more popular. Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, Bixby and Cortana are all at our beck and call whenever we may need them. What started as something of a novelty for many users is now a real part of the way that they now interact with search engines.

While you may not think that this affects the affiliate market, it will create a serious impact in the coming year. Already, affiliates are looking for ways that they can piggyback on these changes in order to increase their organic rankings. Building detailed content around top ranking questions related to bingo in search is one such strategy that has been prominent and successful in building volume for affiliates such as Which Bingo.

With innovation and flexibility, it’s possible for affiliates to topple their competitors off the top spot by paying attention to current voice search trends.

The Statistics

By 2020, many experts are betting that around 50% of all searches will be made via voice. Of these, 30% will be done on a device with no screen, such as a Google Home. When comparing 2016 to 2008, there are 35x more voice searches being carried out on a regular basis.

These numbers build up a clear picture of just how popular voice search is becoming and where this will lead our market. At one point, voice searches were being used for idle trivia, but now they’re being used by those that want concrete answers and instant results.

Catering for Voice Search

On searches made without a screen, it’s really position zero or the snippet position that matters most. This will generally appear in searches that contain a question and the top ranked result will answer that fully. For affiliates, this means that you can get much better exposure by simply understanding what your ideal user wants to know and then answering that question succinctly.

In sports betting, this could be a question like “What time is the Manchester United game on tonight?” or “Which footballer earns the most money?”. These somewhat softer queries will bring a person that is interested in the sport to your site, you answer their question and then they can choose whether to stick around and learn more about you what your offering provides and hopefully convert them to an offer that generates revenue on your site.

Of course, to get into that first position you really need to have a strong website, both in terms of content and design (UX). This means that when users get there, they actually want to stick around in the long term. Bear in mind that most voice searches take place on a mobile device presently, if your mobile rendered website is poor then you will be allowing these users to pass you by.

Improving your UX

Affiliate sites tend to contain banner ads, videos and external elements – which can slow your site down considerably. A slow site creates a poor user experience and this impacts your conversion. While we don’t have a lot of data on the attention span of voice searchers, we do know that 53% of those on a mobile device will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

There are many tips and tricks that you can use to speed up your site for mobile searchers, including the implementation of AMP. This will improve your ranking and also mean that your customers can find what they’re looking for in seconds – even if their internet connection isn’t strong.

Early Adoption

If you want to make the most of this changing ecosystem in search, then you really have to act quickly. Smaller affiliates can benefit from taking a chance on a new technique that larger affiliates are still deciding upon. While you may not have the same budget as these big competitors, you may have better resources and more flexibility to try out new things without long periods of consultation.

We no longer have regular updates from Google to rely on, as their algorithm is now an ever changing combination of factors. The important things to remember are make your site relevant, focus on developing your UX for optimised conversion and build content that answers. This is how smaller affiliates can creep past those with much larger budgets to innovate and bootstrap their growth to land themselves right in position zero.

Understanding voice search and the intention of your user is key, spend time coming up with ideas and researching how competitive those unicorn search terms are. You might just end up spotting an untapped niche in a competitive market, where users are searching but not really finding the answer they’re looking for which means that you can command that traffic and direct it to your chosen partners driving revenue growth.