What does a pug have in common with voice search? Absolutely nothing, but you should stick around for two more minutes and let’s talk about voice search.
Any company that wants to succeed online is familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The desire to be ranked highly by Google—thus becoming more visible to potential clients—has resulted in businesses taking SEO very seriously, even hiring SEO experts to ensure that they can be found quickly and easily by anyone who might be searching for their products or services.
But what happens when SEO changes?
Welcome to the Future
Technology does not stand still, nor does our way of interacting with it. With the increased availability and accuracy of voice search, the ways that people are searching online are changing and businesses will have to adapt in response.
Before looking at the changes that voice search is bringing about, let’s consider some fact about its usage.
- By 2016, Google voice search queries had grown to 35 times their 2008 numbers.
- By 2020, 50% of all searches will be done via voice search.
- 40% of adults use voice search on a daily basis, as do 55% of teens.
- 19% of people use Siri on a daily basis, and within 3 months of Windows 10 launching, 33% of queries were made through voice search.
So, what changes does voice search bring? Here are some of the key ones.
Longer Search Terms
For many people, brevity is the soul of text search. The average text search is comprised of two words, so when searching for a gift for a child, for example, someone might type “kid toys.” When using voice search, however, the search will usually be longer, such as, “most popular toys for children.”
A More Conversational Approach
Content on websites is often presented in a casual, conversational tone. With voice search becoming more popular, searches are becoming more conversational as well. Continuing with the above example, it wouldn’t be surprising to find the search is presented as an actual question, such as, “what are the most popular toys for children?”
With this in mind, a wise approach to keywords would be to start focusing on questions that include who, what, where and when. Searches will start to move away from “Ten Best Pug Training Tips” towards more natural questions such as, “what are the ten best ways to train my lazy pug?”
A Stronger Indicator of Intent
With searches becoming more like natural questions used in conversation, the intent of the search can become much clearer.
Where we once may have searched for “dog food,” a more natural, conversational voice search is more likely to contain a question like, “where can I buy dog food near me?” This brings with it a greater sense of the user’s intent.
Questions containing what, who and how suggest a desire for general information, and that the question is merely for research. When the user begins their question with when or where, there is a greater sense of a readiness to act. Compare “what is the benefit of Brand X?” with “where can I buy Brand X?”
The latter implies a greater willingness to act.
Being Prepared for New Interactions
What should your business be doing to prepare for these changes?
- Refine your strategy to become more voice search-friendly. Be aware of how searches will change, and construct your content in a way that matches the greater specificity and question-based nature of voice search.
- Content on your site can be tweaked to include questions-as-keywords. For example, instead of a sub-heading of “the 5 Best Dog Foods Brands,” match the type of questions being asked by asking, “What Are the 5 Best Dog Food Brands?” before providing your answer.
- Aim for “position zero” rather than position one on SERP. Featured snippets will become a larger part of voice searches, as voice search devices will read the snippet aloud, effectively marking that position as one of authority and expertise.
- Recognize that many voice searches emphasize local businesses by including “near me” in the search. Ensure that your company information is up-to-date with your location and phone number.
What the Future Brings
While it is certainly not time to toss out our keyboards just yet, the rapid growth of those adopting voice search means that you will want to take it into account going forward. Content and site design should take the changing face of search into consideration, as those who do not make an effort to keep up run the risk of falling behind.
We live in an age of convenience, and voice search offers that convenience to users who either have difficulty using text entry—perhaps due to not being able to read or manipulate small devices—and to those who enjoy multitasking and want to leave their hands free for something other than typing.
SEO is changing thanks to voice search. Are you ready to change with it?
Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.