• Joanna Pelletier

Voice Search Is Changing SEO. Are You Ready for the New Tide?

Over the last five years, virtual assistants like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Siri have become commonplace amongst the technology we use every day. Amazon alone says that it has sold more than 100 million Alexa-powered devices since the technology first became available in November 2014. The sales uptick of convenient, easy-to-use virtual assistants is leading to another shift in the landscape of SEO, and it’s revolutionizing how people buy cars and houses, learn the meaning of a word, or get directions to that new restaurant everyone has been dying to try.

3 Ways Voice Search is Changing the SEO landscape

Speed and convenience are the main reasons for the takeover of conversational search. It’s faster and easier to press a button and cue a virtual assistant than it is to take out your phone or laptop, find a connection, and search for the information you need in a browser. Here are just a few ways our own sloth is creating a shift in the world of SEO:

Increased Dependence on Natural Language Searches

Voice searches involve the use of complete sentences and questions. According to the Think with Google blog, the number of searches that include the phrase “I need” (e.g., “how much money do I need to retire”) have increased by 65 percent, and search engines like Google are taking note by improving their support for conversational search queries. Over time, as these natural langiage search queries become more of a priority, keyword-driven searches will slowly fade into the background and become less important.

To stay ahead of the trend, consider leveraging long-tail keywords and natural, conversational language on your website and social media. To find the best terms for your business, take a moment to think about how your target customers search for businesses like yours. You can also use a website like SimilarWeb or SEMrush to discover which keywords businesses like yours have used in the past.

Another great way to respond to this growing trend is to optimize your FAQ page. To optimize your FAQ page, think about some of the questions your customers or clients are most likely to ask. Then provide simple, effective, and understandable answers to the questions and promote them on your website, blog and social media posts.

Consumers are Leveraging more mobile searches

Although voice recognition applications for desktop computers are available, it’s easier and more convenient to conduct conversational searches on your mobile device. Around 53 percent of voice search users leverage conversational search while driving, while 21 percent of users leverage voice search while they are engaged in other activities. And, as of December 2018, 56 percent of organic searches were done on a mobile phone, up from 45 percent in 2014.

All this points to a trend of increasing mobile searches and an even higher increase in mobile voice search users. Because voice searches are more mobile-based, it should be a priority to ensure your website is mobile responsive.

Not sure if you have a responsive site? Take a quick test to see if it is.

More Local-Based Searches

According to a May 2018 article in Search Engine Land, 75 percent of smart speaker owners perform searches for local businesses on a weekly basis, and 53 percent perform these searches every day.

If you’re a local business like a restaurant, garden center or Doctor’s Office, that means people will be using their smartphones and smart speakers using terms like "around me" or "near me" to find businesses like yours. To increase your client or customer capture, claim your location on Bing Places and Google My Business; make sure you have the correct name, address, and phone number on your website; add your correct name, address, and phone to relevant online business directories like Yelp; and ask your customers to leave a review about their experience.

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