It may be a meme by now, but “Alexa, play Despacito” is such a good example of how sophisticated voice search has become. Whether you’re using Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa, you probably have talked to your phone at least once and asked it to search something for you. Through all this, what we can be sure is that voice is definitely affecting our approach to technology and the internet.
Read on to find out how voice search can affect the already ever-changing sphere of digital marketing and SEO and how you can capitalize on it:
Who’s Using Voice Search?
The first question that most digital marketers might ask is who’s using voice queries? After all, back in 2013, 85% of iOS users weren’t using Siri. Today, however, voice search seems to be taking over with 20% of mobile searches being voice queries. Not only that, but 66% of Americans have smart speakers which they can use to ask questions using their voice. In fact, these figures from 2019 show how voice searches and digital assistants matter are here to stay.
What’s the Big Difference When You Talk?
The biggest difference between typing your query and actually talking to your phone is the way people expect their queries to be answered. Think of voice queries as actual questions from your friends. When they ask you a question, they’re not expecting you to answer with links. They’re expecting you to answer directly! As such, when you’re faced with people using voice search, expect that they want a direct answer as well.
The biggest thing about this is how spoken language actually affects SEO! For example, voice queries focus on natural language and semantic context rather than the keyword placement. Another thing to note is how voice queries focus more on SERPs rather than links. After all, you’re not expecting long search results, you want direct answers.
How Do You Keep Up with the Conversation?
With the shift towards voice queries, SEO specialists need to keep up with the changes brought by digital assistants. Here are just some of the ways voice search has been transforming SEO and some of the ways you can adapt:
Although digital marketing and SEO has long moved on from content that just focuses on the number of keywords, voice queries take us one step further away from the dark ages of keyword stuffing. With voice searches, your content should prioritize answering user-intent and their questions, rather than inserting keywords. With voice queries, it’s all about the semantic search and context to answer the user’s question.
Although user-intent remains the same, people tend to type and speak queries differently. For example, you might use “Boston weather” when typing your query into Google, but you will be asking “What’s the weather in Boston today?” when you use Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. It should also be noted that when you’re using voice search, you tend to use the WH questions more than you would if you were typing. This shift towards a more natural and conversational lexicon should be noted, especially if you want your content to rank for certain keywords.
This isn’t really something new, since Google has revealed that they do consider mobile-friendliness when ranking pages. However, if your page still isn’t mobile friendly, then you’re going to be losing out. Since people who utilize voice search are more often than not on their mobile devices, it’ll be a huge loss for you to not optimize your site for mobile. At the very least, your website should have accomplished these key considerations to be acknowledged as mobile-friendly:
- Improved loading time;
- Redesigned pop-ups for mobile
- Resized buttons for mobile
When you ask Google, Alexa, or Siri to look for the Top 10 Italian Restaurants in your area, they won’t answer you with a list of all the links on the first Google page. Rather, they’ll be relaying the information that’s found on the snippets. The idea here is that Google wants to give you the shortest answer possible, similar to how you would answer a friend asking you a question. Create content that would be easier for Google to read by using H-tags and bullet points.
Go Local (or How Google will Emphasize Local SEO)
Almost 22% of voice queries seek out local content. It is because of this that it’s necessary to have a good local SEO strategy if you want to rank for voice queries. Local business and establishments should also take advantage of this opportunity, as this can ultimately drive traffic and boost your sales. Consider the following when optimizing your local SEO:
- Have you created, updated, and optimized your Google My Business account?
- Do you use location specific keywords in your pages, especially in your About Us?
- Do you interact with customers and community?
- Do you use local keywords in your content?
If your answer is no, then you might want to talk to your social media marketing agency to help you with that.
Raise Your Voice!
In this fast-paced, ever-changing industry, it’s not entirely surprising to see voice queries and AI become important factors in SEO ranking. Although there are predictions about voice search here and there, nothing is set in stone yet. That being said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in experimenting and trying to optimize your content for voice search. After all, it’s uncharted territory and could be the start of other opportunities.
I’m still hoping to have a nephew named Stuart, because how fun would that be? I’m a digital marketing professional and freelance writer, and my interests range from the hottest chili in the world to the ergonomics of a good office chair.