From Cortana to Siri to Google Now, the rise of voice search is leading many SEO experts to question whether virtual assistants are affecting page rankings and organic traffic. Since the way we talk is usually much different than the words we type, this new trend of speaking to our devices to find the information we need is starting to change the effectiveness of the almighty keyword.
The Rising Popularity of Voice Search
When MindMeld, which helps developers incorporate voice assistance into their apps and content, sampled 1,800 adults in October 2015, the company found that more than 41 percent of smartphone users had started utilizing audio commands within the past six months.
Voice search is popular with users across all age groups whether they are using an Android, iPhone or Windows platform. Busy moms love its ease of use for hands-free multitasking while seniors appreciate it as a simple alternative to a tiny keyboard. More than half of all teens use voice inquiries at least twice daily to access everything from homework help to driving directions to movie times.
The Future of Search Engine Marketing
How users search has major implications for how websites are built and content is written. Search engines use Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to decipher the intent of semantic search requests and to determine the overall meaning of a website’s content. Additionally, people conducting audio searches tend to be seeking specific answers rather than researching topics on broad keywords.
These combined issues are forcing search engines to alter algorithms so that displayed results actually meet the needs of the inquiry. Google’s virtual assistant, for example, responds with a direct answer so that the person doesn’t even need to click through the returned results and then read content.
Optimizing for Voice Queries
The extent to which voice queries will influence SEO is still a guessing game, but savvy marketers can begin planning for the next evolution of search engine marketing with these four tips:
- Having a strong set of concise FAQ means a website is more likely to rank highly as a direct answer source. When planning content, online marketing professionals should think about the questions users commonly ask and which casual phrases they use to look up that information.
- Voice queries are more conversational in tone, so long-tail keyword strategies that incorporate focused phrases and common expressions rather than general single words are likely to rank higher.
- With directions and local establishments topping the top voice searches, XML sitemaps, location data and price points will grow in importance. This microdata is essential in helping search engines provide the quick answers people are seeking.
- Although special technology is not currently necessary, schema is likely to become more important as we move forward with voice-assisted technology. This add-on HTML coding provides more details on the meaning of a web page’s content, which helps search engines pinpoint its usefulness in matching a keyword search query.
May, 18 2016: Google says 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches by Greg Sterling
May, 05 2016: How Voice Search Will Change Digital Marketing — For the Better by Purna Virji
April, 01 2016: The rise of personal assistants and the death of the search box by Eric Enge
Photo credit: Tim Gouw – Unsplash
Note: This post was originally published the 23th March 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness