Miral Sattar has seen coming (and participated in) the voice search revolution. The serial entrepreneur, founder of Bibliocrunch, and software developer knows just how much products like smart speakers are going to impact our digital lives in the coming 5 years.
In fact, she’s so entrenched in the voice search world that she’s even developing a smart voice-based product—the Bearily Bear, a bedtime story smart speaker cleverly integrated with a plush bear. (Think Teddy Ruxpin for today’s kids.)
Miral also knows that most businesses (and even the voice search platforms) are NOT ready for the Voice Search revolution. “I saw a study that said Alexa returns what the book's about 30% correctly, and that's a big deal,” she said during a recent interview on Joanna Penn’s podcast.
Couple that with a recent study of 73,000 business that found that 96% of those businesses have not optimized their businesses for voice search, and you have huge problem for findability in the near future—but also a GREAT opportunity for those who want to seize it.
When it comes to us indie authors, being visible is key to book success. There are a lot of tried and true pathways to visibility. Voice Search, however large it currently is or will soon become, doesn’t have the same set of solid recommendations. Despite a lot of great articles that help you understand Voice Search, optimizing in an author-specific way is not a marketing tactic that the community at large has jumped on.
That’s why Miral put together a course that helps authors find their footing in the new (and often confusing) world of voice search—to help independent authors navigate these new technologies and get one step ahead of even the big publishers.
Read on for Miral’s primer on Voice Search and stay till the end to learn how you can get 50% off of Miral’s new course exclusively through BookWorks partnership with her educational business, Learn Self-Publishing Fast.
Did you know that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-based? A whopping 30% of searches will be done without a screen. Selling books is hard enough, according to a report by Score Publishing, best-selling authors and publishers stand to lose millions in book sales in 2019 by NOT optimizing their book for discovery in voice search and smart speakers.
What Is Voice Search?
Have you ever asked Siri on your iPhone to tell you the time or set an alarm? Do you own a smart speaker or one of those voice search machines—Amazon Echo/Google Home, or another one? Have you ever asked Alexa to play you a song or tell you the weather or give you a flash news brief? If so, you’ve been using voice search to help you get the information you need.
All these devices perform voice search through a voice assistant when spoken to, usually through a smart speaker or smartphone.
More and more users are using voice assistants to find books, listen to music, and discover. So it’s imperative that authors have a voice search SEO strategy to help them sell books.
Voice Search is speech technology, based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) that allows users to search by SAYING the terms aloud rather than by typing them into a search engine. It’s much more convenient to order something by saying what you need than by typing it out into a search box. Voice Searches are done through the help of voice assistants.
What Is a Voice Assistant?
A voice assistant (Siri, Alexa, Google, Cortana) is a digital assistant that uses voice recognition software to give answers to people when asked a question.
Common voice assistants are Siri, Google, Alexa. If you can speak a command to a device and get a verbal response, you are using a voice assistant.
To initiate a voice assistant you’d ask your iPhone, “Siri, tell me the time.” You can also ask your Amazon Echo device, ‘Alexa, tell me the weather this weekend.”
What Is a Smart Speaker?
A smart speaker is a device that processes voice search commands and responds to voice commands. Authors can now discover, read and order books by initiating commands to their smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Common smart speakers include Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana.
According to Adobe, people use smart speakers and voice assistants for:
- Listening to books (audiobooks)
- Requesting information (where voice search comes in)
- Performing mathematical calculations (like my kids love doing)
- Playing music
I can ask my Amazon Echo device, “Alexa, play me Black Eyed Peas” or more commonly in my house of a 3 and 5-year old, “Alexa, play Mother Goose Club.”
[Don't worry, you're not the only one confused about voice search...]
Why Authors Need to Optimize for Voice Search
Optimizing for Voice Search is critical to book marketing because a smart speaker or a voice assistant like Siri are gateways to purchasing in the home. Authors need to make sure that when someone is searching for their book via voice, that potentials reader are able to find them.
What happens currently with your book if someone performs a voice search for it? Does it return your website? Recommend your book?
You can do a test by saying, ‘Siri, find [name of book]’.
A few years ago, audiobooks were not widely used, very few people bothered with them and now everyone has one.
Just like regular SEO, there are things you need to do to get your book optimized for Voice Search SEO.
There are a couple of things that authors can do right now to make sure that they are prepared for the Voice Search revolution.
Update Your Meta Description
Having a meta description for your home page is especially important for voice search and voice assistants. The meta description is what voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google use to describe your website. Go ahead! Do a test. If you have an iPhone ask Siri about your favorite author and favorite book and see what comes up.
The meta description is hidden text on every page of your website that tells search engines what’s on the page. It’s a snippet of up to about 150 characters.
Search engines display the meta description in search results mostly when the searched-for phrase, such as the author’s name, is in the description. You can make sure yours is as good as possible using an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO.
Example: If you have an iPhone, ask Siri about your favorite author.
“Siri, who is John Green?”
If you have an Amazon Echo or Dot device, speak the following prompts.
“Alexa, who is John Green?”
If you notice, the search results that get returned read aloud or display the meta description set on your website.
Have an Audiobook Version
If you have an Amazon Echo or Dot device say the following prompts:
“Alexa, read The Fault in Our Stars”
Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant will read a sample of the audiobook version of The Fault in Our Stars.
If you have a published book, you want to also make sure that an audiobook version is available. Smart speakers prioritize books that have audiobooks available. Make sure that your audiobook is available on Amazon and Google Play so the smart speakers (Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, Siri) can purchase, read and recommend your audiobook to potential readers.
Be prepared for the VOICE SEARCH revolution. It’s already here.
There you have it! Your first (maybe) foray into the new Voice Search revolution. If you want to learn more, check out these great articles from Neil Patel and Website Magazine, and don't miss the full interview with Miral on Joanna Penn's excellent podcast!
PLUS, we promised you a deal on Miral's new course. If you want a comprehensive, soup-to-nuts breakdown of how authors can use Voice Search to help grow their readership and their sales, this is the course to take.
With our code BOOKWORKS, you can grab 50% off of the new Voice Search Course (plus bonuses) at Learn Self-Publishing Fast, Miral's website through June 30th only. The course includes everything you need to claim your place in the Voice Search revolution.
For a chance to win a free course (and have a bit of fun), check out our Voice Search Contest in the BW Community forum. Entry is only open to BW members so if you're not one already, you can join for free here.
Miral Sattar runs author training series on LearnSelfPublishingFast.com. Over 400 students have taken her tech training courses designed for writers and authors. Miral has worked in the media industry for 15 years, most recently at TIME Magazine where she developed and implemented the digital SEO strategy that enabled TIME to be one of the most trafficked sites in the industry. Miral has lectured at Yale, NYU, CUNY, Pace, and other universities across America and helped numerous authors market their books. She and her writing have been featured in TIME, CNN, WSJ, NYTimes, NY Daily News, among other media publications. She has an MS in Publishing (Digital + Print Media) from NYU and a BS from Columbia University in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.