Okay, Google. Find me…
Alexa, look for…
Siri, what is the…
Go ahead and fill in the blanks: if the latest statistics are any indication, odds are you’ll soon be talking rather than typing or tapping when it comes to searching for, well, anything online.
Voice Search: The Evolution of SEO
Dread it, run from it, change still arrives. And voice search, in all its futuristic, how-did-we-get-here glory, is a big change.
It’s a big change for consumers, because it offers a new, convenient way of utilizing multiple devices to help them find what they’re looking for.
It’s a big change for businesses, because it means a major shift in the way consumers search for their products and services, and how that information is presented.
It’s a big change for digital marketers, because it means a shift in strategy to working with different types of search behaviour and optimization.
But instead of dreading or running from this change, let’s talk about where it’s going to come from and how we can embrace and adapt to it.
The Different Devices Used for Voice Search
There are a few different types of devices one can use to issue voice commands and have their bidding done.
Home Assistants & Virtual Assistants
Home assistants and virtual assistants are exactly what they sound like: devices that, well, assist you in your day-to-day.
They can check the news and weather, remind you about appointments, and even control the lights, temperature or utilities in your home.
And, yes, they can search the web for things, when prompted with voice commands.
Most modern smartphones come with voice command capability, a technology that is likely to grow in use as more people adapt to this style of search.
And really, it’s hard to imagine that it won’t grow. It’s just easier to pull out your phone and say a few words to find what you want, rather than tapping away at those tiny characters (personal bias, I am a terrible texter).
It just feels more natural to talk your way through a query.
Plus, there’s the fact that 41% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say it feels like talking to a friend or another person; logically, the same would apply to using similar software on a mobile device.
The evolution of television has led to an era of constantly connected TVs that allow you to do much more than channel surf.
Picture it: you’re binging the latest big thing on Netflix and love that main character’s cool jacket to the point where you decide you’d like one for yourself.
With a few simple voice commands, you’re searching the web for jackets of a specific size, colour and style, filtered down to the closest available locations and lowest shipping costs.
The next thing you know, it’s set for delivery – and you didn’t type or tap a single letter.
How to Shift Your SEO Strategy for Voice Search
We can talk about this fast-approaching future all day, but let’s get down to brass tacks and discuss how to shift your SEO strategy for voice search.
To be specific:
- Pay more attention to long-tail keywords. Voice is a much more natural form of search. Users are much more likely to be ‘conversational’ and utilize long-tail keywords (3+ words) when looking for something. This means re-shaping keyword research and strategy to focus more on these types of queries. In other words: think about how people talk (“where is the closest pizza restaurant?”), not how they type (“pizza restaurants”).
- Write longer, more detailed copy on landing pages. Much of the long-tail searching that comes with voice capability will consist of users asking specific questions. Help them find what they’re looking for by writing high quality copy that answers these queries in detail.
- Use structured data markup. Structured data markup helps search engines understand more about the context of your website’s content, and can lead to “special search result features and enhancements,” such as the Google Knowledge Graph. This can be a big advantage for voice queries such as “how do I bake a chocolate cake?”, which can lead to recipes showing up right there on the front page of Google.
- Claim and optimize your business listings. Make sure that your business listings, such as your Google My Business profile, have essential information, like hours, properly filled out. Users are likely to ask questions in this regard (i.e., what are the pizza place’s hours?), and you have the opportunity to provide them with direct, accurate answers on the spot.
Voice is the Next Natural Shift in Search
And that shouldn’t scare you.
Any change is initially met with some level of apprehension, and that’s natural. But voice search is a challenge that businesses and marketers should be excited to meet.
It’s a new opportunity to connect with your customer base and offer them direct answers to their spoken questions and queries.
That means a chance to boost your brand’s visibility and reputation, and to do so in response to the next natural shift in search – one that consumers are likely to continue embracing as the technology becomes more readily available.
Make sure your brand is ready, too.