Can You Hear Me Now? The Impact of Voice Search on SEO

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Have you ever noticed how normal it has become to talk to our mobile devices? It might sound strange phrased like that, but think about how much time and frustration you’d save yourself on your next grocery store trip if you could have the answers to “What’s the healthiest type of bread?” or “Which aisle sells lemon juice?” by simply asking your phone for guidance.

As smartphones and tablets continue to become the most commonly used devices for accessing the internet, voice-activated search has become the preferred method of online searching for many users of all demographics. Mobile voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana are making voice search increasingly popular because of their ability to give concise results quickly and efficiently.

The convenience and ease of use voice search provide is great for consumers, but what does it mean for marketers? Voice search presents several logistical differences from traditional text search, which could potentially have some implications for SEO. As voice search technology continues to expand in both popularity and functionality, business owners will need to take note of the differences between voice and text search and how it could affect their web presence.

voice search seoThe Difference Between Text & Voice Search

Voice-activated searches are completely different than text searches and should be treated as such. The difference between the two is that a text searcher is willing to do a little more research, while a voice searcher is most likely looking for a quick answer to a specific question. Because of this, implementing a voice search strategy into your website is key to having a strong web presence.

Traditional text searches are typically short and to the point, often consisting of less than 5 words. Often times this strategy may take a few search queries to get it right, using different words in different orders in an attempt to find what you are searching for.

With a voice-activated search, it is more like you are having a conversation with your search engine rather than the trial and error method of typing in different keywords. Instead of searching “Italian restaurant,” you may ask “What are the best Italian restaurants in my area?”

This does not mean that traditional search queries are becoming obsolete – it just means that businesses should focus on both text search and voice search options when optimizing their keywords.

How to Optimize for Voice Search

Now that we’ve gone over the differences between text and voice search, let’s delve into what a voice search optimization strategy actually looks like. Thankfully, voice search optimization doesn’t differ that greatly from regular search engine optimization, and only requires some slight tweaks to your strategy to increase your organic reach:

Use Conversational Language

Voice searches are characteristically conversational by nature. With this in mind, it makes sense for your website copy to take a conversational tone as well if you want to rank in voice search queries.

Think about the way a natural speech pattern is formed when choosing keywords to try to rank for in voice search queries. You probably wouldn’t say “NJ digital marketing agency” in a conversation with a friend or colleague, so it’s safe to assume your audience wouldn’t either. By taking a conversational approach and changing your copy to “digital marketing agencies in New Jersey” instead, you are more likely to rank for that term in a voice search.

Target Long-Tail Keywords

Conversational language and long-tail keywords go hand in hand. Google favors longer content, and your keywords are no exception. Short keywords are never completely going away, but focusing on long-tail keywords will be more relevant to the conversational phrases used in voice search.

When voice searchers ask a question, they tend to start with “What,” “Who,” “Where,” “When,” “Why,” and “How.” These people are usually asking these questions in hopes to receive a specific answer. To appeal to these searches, you should consider adding a FAQ page to your website with questions that begin with these interrogatives. This will allow you to rank for long-tail keywords like “How much does a website cost?” rather than the short-tail alternative “website cost”. 

seo and voice searchOptimize Your Google My Business Listing

A 2018 survey revealed that upwards of 82% of smartphone users have conducted a “near me” voice search. Whether they’re searching for “restaurants near me,” “hotels near me” or so on, this indicates that your business needs to bolster its local SEO efforts to appeal to a majority of voice search users.

With this in mind, make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date and your profile is filled out fully. This same survey revealed that over 90% of respondents admitted they would be likely to click on the first search result, so it is worth the effort to prioritize local SEO in order to reach voice searchers in your area.

Prioritize Mobile Friendliness

Mobile devices are made primarily if not entirely via mobile devices, with 20% of all mobile searches conducted by voice. Consequently, it makes sense that your business should prioritize mobile friendliness if you want to find success in the voice search arena.

Voice searchers aren’t the only ones who appreciate a beautifully designed and user-friendly mobile web design – search engines love it, too. Google’s ranking algorithm has made the shift from desktop-first to mobile-first, so mobile websites that are fully optimized will receive the heftiest rankings boost. Land one of the top three ranking placements in a mobile search query, and voice searchers are increasingly likely to find your website.

seo mobile searchImplementing Voice Search Into Your SEO Strategy

Now that you know the impact of voice search on your SEO, all that’s left to do is implement a new strategy into your marketing plan. Question is: where do you start? Overhauling something as critical as your SEO strategy can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are unfamiliar with the nuances behind marketing for voice search queries. In this case, you may want to consider leaving your SEO strategy in the hands of an experienced digital marketing agency (like ours!) with the tools, creativity and know-how needed to deliver results and elevate your business’ online visibility.

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