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Alexa, Find My Website: How Voice Search Will Impact Your SEO Strategy

September 26, 2019 No Comments

Featured article by Jeff Shipman, Director of Marketing Innovation at HubShout

The internet is constantly evolving, which presents a big challenge for business owners. As a result, many will hire outside help to stay digitally up to date. While working with a white label SEO reseller can ensure that clients obtain an optimized and regularly updated website, it can still be difficult for industry professionals to keep up with all the changes and quickly implement them.

That may be why so many businesses have not yet implemented SEO specifically geared towards voice search. Although the vast majority of iOS users weren’t using Siri in 2013, a lot has changed in the last five years. According to research compiled by Forbes, 30% of all web searches will be conducted without the use of a screen by 2020. Now, digital assistants and voice search capabilities have a huge impact on web traffic and how users navigate the internet.

In other words, you can’t afford to ignore voice search when optimizing your website. But why is voice search so essential now? And exactly how will it impact SEO strategy development for your business or for your clients? Let’s talk about it below.

What is Voice Search, Anyway?

First, we’ll need to define what voice search actually is. This function allows a user to speak into their device to conduct a search, rather than manually typing in a query via their keyboard. Any time you ask Siri, Google Home, Alexa, or Cortana a question or tap the microphone button while filling out a Google field, you’ll be utilizing a voice search option. Whether you require a hands-free experience or don’t have your device within arm’s reach, voice search makes it a whole lot easier to find the information you need.

Is Voice Search Really All That Popular?

In a word, yes. Google released research back in 2014 that revealed 55% of teenagers and 41% of adults use voice search more than once per day. When you need directions, want to check on movie times, or simply need the answer to a trivia question, relying on voice search can make the process a whole lot simpler. People who utilize voice search functions believe it’s more efficient and allows them to multitask, which shows we value these options for the productivity they can offer.

Since 2014, voice search has only become more prominent. One 2018 report found that 39 million (or one in six) Americans now own a smart speaker. And in a more recent keynote speech, Google’s own CEO estimated that one-fifth of all Google queries can currently be attributed to voice search. With sales of digital assistants continuing to rise and increasing use of device functions like these, it’s clear that voice search isn’t going away. Google is also prioritizing websites that optimize for voice search, which means this can have a significant effect on your rankings. Because of that, businesses need to embrace, rather than dismiss, optimization techniques that include voice search trends.

How Will Voice Search Change My SEO?

Now that you understand the importance of voice search in 2019, you’ll need to discover how it will affect your SEO strategy.

One of the most important points to keep in mind is that people conduct searches differently with voice commands than they do with traditional typing. Voice search tends to work best when queries are submitted in a question format — and users are more likely to ask their digital assistant a question than they are about a specific phrase. It just feels natural to speak in full sentences rather than short snippets. This differs dramatically from the way in which many businesses optimize their website for manually entered search queries. Long-tail keywords and questions should be included on your website to increase the chances you’ll show up in a voice conducted search. In other words, you’ll want to write the way in which you speak if you want to appeal to those who speak into their devices.

You’ll also need to prioritize website functionality, particularly as it pertains to loading speed and mobile responsiveness. Because Google considers fast-loading, responsive websites to be more valuable, your site will be more likely to nab a better ranking if you’ve addressed these issues already. And since the majority of people who use voice search are using their smartphones or non-computer devices to find information, having a site that functions well on mobile devices is an absolute must.

If your business has a physical location, you have an opportunity to really use voice search to your advantage. Since most users who rely on voice search will want nearby results, you’ll want to use local SEO techniques to make sure you’re found when these queries are conducted. Including web copy that includes mention of the city in which you operate, as well as phrases like “near me” or “around me,” can be highly beneficial for those who want to show up in voice searches.

What if you want to embrace voice search but don’t totally know where to start? You might want to begin by using this technology in your own life. By testing out voice search in place of manually entered search queries, you can get a much better sense of how these tools are used and what kinds of results they deliver. Having first-hand knowledge of the ways in which this will change your search habits will provide greater insight into how customers will (or won’t) find you on Google.

Typing and texting isn’t about to disappear completely. Although voice search can be extremely convenient, it’s not always reliable. It won’t always hear questions perfectly or return the most relevant results for users. But, make no mistake, it is becoming substantially more popular. As voice search becomes more widespread, organizations will have to incorporate new methods of optimization into their digital marketing strategy to reflect these changes. And while that might seem overwhelming, the silver lining is that an increased emphasis on voice search means that there are now even more ways for potential customers to find your business online. 

About the Author

Jeff Shipman is the Director of Marketing Innovation at HubShout, based in Rochester, New York. Before moving to Western New York, he earned a BA in History and a MBA at St. Bonaventure University. Go Bonnies!

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