Within the past decade, smartphones have transformed our lives to such an extent that most people are unable to imagine life without them. And, as accuracy and intelligence of “personal digital assistants” such as Google Assistant, Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa, improves, consumers are becoming more reliant on voice search to find information about products and services.
According to a study by Google, 55 percent of teens (13–18) and 41 percent of adults use voice search daily, and these numbers are steadily rising.
While it’s unlikely to entirely replace screen-based search in the near future, voice search is about the become a major game-changer for the marketing and SEO industry.
Experts predict that voice search is one of the most significant marketing trends to watch out for in 2017. Businesses and marketing professionals should take this to heart and make sure they understand what strategies are needed to keep up.
Voice search means instant, hands-free answers.
The primary reason for the rise of voice search is its ease of use. Frequent users of voice search say they use it while multitasking; common activities include cooking, working out and watching TV. In fact, 23 percent of adults reported using voice search while cooking. It’s a convenient way for home chefs to find out how many quarts are in a gallon — while keeping their screens mess-free.
Voice searches are focused and direct.
Because voice search queries are conversational in nature, they tend to be longer, more detailed and much more specific. For example, in a traditional search, a user might type in the phrase “refrigerator repair Toronto,” but might tell a voice assistant, “Find the best-rated fridge repair company in Toronto .”
Another natural extension of voice search isn’t a search at all, but rather a direct request for a particular action. Imagine that, instead of typing the search phrase “pizza delivery near me,” a user could say, “Order a large thin-crust pizza with mushrooms and onions from Pizza Pizza .” (We’re not quite there yet, but as voice search continues to evolve, it’s easy to imagine this becoming a reality within a few years.)
So where does that leave SEO?
Voice search used to be a novelty — now it’s a necessity, especially when most of your potential clients are on the go with their smartphone always handy. The call to action is clear: Voice search is here to stay, and SEO practitioners and marketing professionals must include it in their overall strategy to stay relevant in the industry.
When it comes to voice optimization strategies, you should:
Optimize for every device:
When the same voice search is performed on different devices, the results displayed by Google Assistant may be different for the ones pulled up by Apple’s Siri. It’s very important to optimize your strategy for each device you wish to target.
Be THAT local business
Voice searches are three times more likely than text searches to be local. To optimize your chances to be displayed, every page of your website should list your address and phone number, as well as your hours of operation. Also, when you’re setting up listing in Google My Business or Bing Places, be as specific as you can when picking your business category and fill out as much information about your business as possible.
Get in your customer’s head
Concentrating on phrases a person would use in everyday speech should be a priority when writing your content and ad copy. Research how your customers might look for the products or services you offer and what specific phrases they would use. Voice search also means people will be typically speaking in complete sentences. Focus on writing web and social content in a more natural, conversational tone.
Make sure your content answers questions
Most voice searches begin with the traditional question words “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why” and “how.” If your website doesn’t already have an FAQ page, the increased importance of voice search should be the push you need to create one. Begin every question with one of these words, then answer them with informal, conversational language.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
This might go without saying, but in 2017 the majority of websites are still not optimized for mobile. Since smartphones are the primary device people use to perform voice searches, it’s never been more important to make your site as responsive and mobile-friendly as possible.
While voice search definitely represents a seismic shift in the way users interact with technology, smart marketers shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it doesn’t change the end goal of SEO. Successful SEO is about understanding and anticipating user behaviors, and adapting to trends shaped by those behaviors. And, at the end of the day, strong SEO simply boils down to creating the best possible user experience.