How Voice-Activated Search Affects SEO

SEO Voice Search

Voice-activated search is rapidly becoming an important part of SEO and website optimization.

As Siri, Cortana and other digital assistants take on an expanded role in interpreting users’ internet searches, adapting your online content accordingly will help ensure that you remain competitive.

A voice-activated search differs from traditional, text-based internet queries, and your digital content and internet marketing efforts must take this into consideration.

The Rise of Verbal and Natural Speech Searching

In a 2014 study, Google discovered that 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults used a voice-activated internet search more than once each day.

Speech Sharing

Although the numbers aren’t in yet for 2016, Apple reports that 1 billion voice searches are performed each week using Siri alone. Other digital assistants, including Cortana, Alexa, Bing and Google Assistant, add billions more. Together, digital assistants account for almost 50 billion voice searchers each month.

By 2020, half of all internet searches will be voice-activated. As you might imagine, this exploding trend has already begun to influence how we approach SEO and internet marketing.

Not All Verbal Assistants Are Created Equal

You might assume that a voice-activated search isn’t much different than one performed using a keyboard. In truth, the differences can be profound for several reasons. In fact, different virtual assistants produce significantly different results in a verbal search.

Verbal Assistant

Verbal or digital assistants like Siri act as translators of sorts for voice-activated searches. And thanks to the algorithms and programming used by Apple, Android and the others, each verbal assistant translates your voice search slightly differently.

Siri and her peers are highly evolved forms of artificial intelligence, and the competition is fierce among these assistance interfaces. Device manufacturers can carve out a larger market share based on their assistant’s personas and abilities. For evidence of this, we need look no further than the frequency with which Siri references — not Cortana or any of their peers — show up in pop culture.

Although voice searches were once limited to smartphones and tablets, expect to see smart home systems, game consoles and notebook computers claim a larger share of use in the future. Microsoft already reports that 25 percent of searches conducted by Windows 10 taskbar users are done via voice activation.

The Human Difference in Voice-Activated Searches

In addition to the virtual assistant influence, voice searches pose a unique challenge because humans speak differently than they type.

Voice Activated Searches

As search engine algorithms have advanced, so too have our internet searching practices. Although you might once have performed a search for “men’s shoes,” you know today that such broad search terms aren’t likely to produce the results you want. Instead, you might search for “men’s basketball shoes wide width” or something similar.

In a verbal search, most users adopt a more casual means of phrasing, known as conversational query syntax. This includes using complete sentences and more words than you might type into a Google search bar. Linguists call this a more nuanced approach to searching that uses greater levels of intent.

And when you begin your search with “Hey, Siri,” your query terms can change even more, depending on your location.

The Local and Mobile Influences on Voice-Activated Search

Overwhelmingly — at least when it comes to commerce-related searches — we must consider local and mobile factors of voice queries.

Local Mobile Influences

Voice-activated searches conducted from a mobile device are three times more likely to Be Locally SEO based. This might be accomplished by adding “near me” to the search terms or by adding a specific location, such as “near West Jordan.”

The growing verbal search trend is driven largely by the mobile platform, made accessible to everyone through tablets and smartphones. So as important as mobile optimization already was, the popularity of verbal searches means doubling down on that emphasis.

How Does Voice-Activated Search Affect Online Marketing?

Because so many voice-activated searches involve local platforms, it is imperative that you keep your local profiles updated and that you optimize all of your online marketing content for local search.

Online Marketing Voice Search

Likewise, if you haven’t already, you must optimize your website for use on all mobile platforms.

Common text box or typed searches average one to three words in length. However, voice searches average about nine words each. As you might imagine, this trend will expand the list of keywords and phrases for which you must optimize.

Next, you’ll have to consider the common question words that may be associated with a voice-activated search in your industry. The most common search query question words are who, when, where and how. Very few queries ask what, and only a few are concerned with the why of things.

Tablet users ask when most often; smartphone users ask how and desktop and laptop queries are often who.

Consider your brand and how verbal queries might be used in relation to your business model. And just as you have expanded your website content to provide valuable information for your customers and prospects, consider how to adapt this to voice-activated search.

One potentially effective way to address elongated search queries is by adding a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page to your website. Once you have identified the most common verbal search terms for your industry or business model, you can incorporate them into your FAQs.

You also can use these long-tailed key phrases in services page content as well as blog posts, social posts and other SEO artifacts.

Today, virtual assistants have better than 90 percent accuracy in understanding voice-activated search. Until that number approaches or exceeds 99 percent, however, you may have to consider commonly misinterpreted phrasing.

Voice Search Business

Putting Voice-Activated Search to Use in Your Business

The voice-activated search trend will only continue to grow. Taking a proactive stance now will allow you to at least keep pace with your competitors, if not get ahead of them.

Contact Be Locally SEO today to schedule a consultation and personalized website review. We can design and implement strategies to help you quickly adapt to conversational searches. We also can assist you in bringing your website and internet marketing up to date for local and mobile optimization.

Trust Be Locally SEO for all of your SEO and online marketing needs, including assistance in leveraging voice-activated search.


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