Sometime around 2017, SEO professionals started declaring that this was the year voice search for B2B would break through.
In 2017, B2B marketers “needed to pay attention now.”
In 2018, we needed to define our B2B “voice search strategy now.”
In 2019, voice search was “changing B2B marketing.”
If you follow B2B marketing blogs, you’ve seen content about the important of optimizing for voice search.
If you follow B2B marketing blogs, you probably write a B2B marketing blog. And if you write a B2B marketing blog … you don’t get a ton of traffic from voice search.
Stop for a second.
What did you see?
If your answer is “basically nothing that indicates voice search for B2B is a thing yet” … you’re right!
Voice Search for B2B: The ‘Evidence’
There’s a particular statistic buried in a lot of content around voice search for B2B SEO. Writers love to cite a study that said roughly half of survey participants use voice commands at work alone. About 35% use voice commands “in the office with co-workers.”
“This is it!” they say. “It’s evidence that voice search optimization is the next big thing for B2B SEO!”
But … it’s not evidence of that.
Using something at work doesn’t mean you’re using it for work.
(And no, the explanation that folks are using voice search at work “so co-workers can hear the result” doesn’t hold water, either.)
The stats are usually buried in examples of voice search usage … by consumers. For example, here’s every “sample” search presented in one blog post that cited the study:
- “What’s the difference between program and project management?”
- “Should we hire an account manager or a project manager?”
- “What’s the height of the Empire State Building?”
- “What’s the third tallest mountain in the world?”
- “What is Amazon’s stock price?”
- “What are the best Thai restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia?”
- “What’s the weather tomorrow?”
Apart from the first two, which were really just excuses for internal links, those are … not B2B searches.
Writers also cite the use of voice-assisted technology as evidence of the burgeoning trend of B2B voice SEO. No, dictating notes into Salesforce Einstein Voice isn’t audio search. It’s dictation.
As a B2B marketer, I don’t care about consumer adoption of voice assist technology. (Several articles about B2B voice search linked that study. It specifically says “consumer” in the title!”)
I don’t care that Google is 95% accurate in English voice recognition.
Sure, business-to-business buyers are human. They probably use Alexa, Cortana and Siri. But there’s a dearth of evidence that they use them for business in any real way.
Remember: Just because content has a title about voice search for B2B doesn’t mean it’s about B2B voice search.
More likely, it’s an attempt to pick up cheap keywords by putting a coat of B2B paint on a consumer topic.
A Shred of Truth
The noise around voice search optimization does contain some decent information.
Tips for optimizing sites for voice usually include:
- Giving a great experience on mobile
- Answering long-tail questions
- Providing relevant how-to content
- Taking a conversational tone
- Make your content featured snippet-friendly
Those are all great SEO tips for the B2B queries that are actually happening! That type of content creation will drive traffic and (hopefully) create leads.
But there’s little evidence that traffic will come from voice, at least in the B2B world. It’s a stopped clock being right twice a day, or a blind squirrel finding a nut.
Voice Search for B2B: The Bottom Line
A critical eye turns up little evidence of voice assistants being used for B2B searches. That’s despite years of frenzied content production and predictions.
So no, “optimizing for voice” doesn’t need to be part of your 2020 B2B marketing strategy.
You actually should take the SEO tips contained in those articles. Mobile matters more than desktop! Answering questions is fantastic! How-to content is useful! And featured snippets rock!
Basically, the tips for VSO are tips for good UX. Since UX and SEO are now basically the same thing, those voice optimization tips are great.
If you happen to get some traffic and exposure via Alexa, awesome! But unless you’re giving the weather or building heights, don’t expect an influx anytime soon.
Will voice’s time as a major B2B traffic driver come? Perhaps. It’s just not happening yet, breathless predictions aside.