Publishers Invest in Voice Search

Should Local News Publishers Invest in Voice Search?

Voice search is poised to change the way people look up products and services online. Should local news publishers invest in voice search? The answer, as always, is more complicated than it seems.

Whether local news publishers should invest in voice search depends on a number of variables, like how much traffic they’re seeing each month and how visitors are finding their websites online.

BBC Good Food, a prominent food media brand in the United Kingdom, generates more than 90 million page views a month on its flagship food and drink website. In addition to that, the company also runs a magazine and a book business, and it hosts plenty of live events. Since acquiring Immediate Media last September, BBC Good Food has been investing in a handful of new technologies, and one of those is voice search.

What made BBC Good Food want to invest in voice search? For starters, the company already sees 80% of its traffic coming from Google. BBC Good Food’s website ranks above the fold for 96% of core recipe terms in the U.K. Those metrics make it an obvious fit for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, Google’s connected home assistant. BBC Good Food is already creating the type of content that’s popular with voice search—food recipes—and the company has enough name recognition to give it some authority when people search for recipes via voice.

Investing in Voice – Where to Begin

By some estimates, as many as 50% of all searches will be carried out via voice by 2020. That is a pretty aggressive estimate, even for insiders who’ve championed voice search as a tool for digital publishers. Nonetheless, many local publishers say that they want to invest in voice search, they’re just not sure how to start or where to begin.

The best place to start is with research. Local publishers who want to invest in voice search should look at their web analytics and review what their competitors are doing with voice. Reader opinions matter, too. Survey existing subscribers to see how frequently they’re using voice search and look at where people are using their mobile devices when they visit your website. Finally, make sure to ask which devices they’re using. You may find that readers are more inclined to use Google Home vs. Amazon’s Alexa, and that may impact your strategy, in terms of how you choose to invest in voice search.

If your closest competitor has an Alexa skill and you’re seeing significant traffic coming from Google each month, then those are both signs that an investment in voice is likely to pay off.

The most common way for news publishers to invest in voice search is by launching a skill on Amazon’s Alexa. The New York Times, for example, offers a free skill that gives listeners the news they need to know each day. The Washington Post has an Alexa skill, too. If you already have a daily or weekly podcast, then launching an Alexa skill is a no-brainer.

Food publishers, like BBC Good Food and others, have an obvious use for voice search, as well. Forty-one percent of smart speaker owners keep their devices in the kitchen, and recipes are one of the most frequently searches categories. However, it’s important to remember that cooking isn’t the only thing people do in their kitchens. People listen to the news while they cook, and with nearly 46% of smart speakers placed in people’s living rooms, there is even more opportunity for news publishers to find their way in this new search category.

Has your publication invested in voice search? If not, reach out to our team here at Web Publisher PRO for a website analysis and customized advice on how to maximize your return on an investment in voice search.