Since 2014, I have been reading how voice commands will slowly start to transform keyword phrases and, in turn, how SEO professionals should shift their approach to keyword selection. (Forbes Article) In my previous post discussing selection of keywords, I touched on the growing importance of long-tail keywords and of user intent. Matching your webpage’s content and forecasting users’ queries in a more “natural language” tone is becoming increasingly important when selecting keyword phrases.
Voice search is a popular feature on mobile devices. Users conduct a search by speaking out loud to their device’s digital assistants. Google’s definition of Voice Search–”have the device search for data upon entering information on what to search into the device by speaking.” (Wikipedia, Google Voice Search).
How do these work? You speak into your smartphone, computer, or other voice search capable device, and the digital assistant for the search program you’re using will transcribe your question or phrase into text. It will then search for an appropriate response–whether that is completing an action (e.g., setting a timer for 5 minutes) or reading the answer back to you (e.g., You ask your Google Search Assistant “how tall can giraffes grow” and Google voice assistant reads back to you “Males: 16-20 feet and Female: 15 feet”.
Why voice commands are becoming more popular/frequent
Why are users conducting more voice searches (Internet Trends Report)? Because of improvements in technology, which correspond to a higher level of accuracy & ease of use. Users are also now more aware of the existence of the voice command technology–through advertising, friends, family, etc. Another primary reason users conduct more voice searches is as a necessity, in response to life events or specific situations, such as when your hands or vision are occupied (Search Engine Land: Columnist Wesley Young).
So, what can website owners/search engine optimizers do?
Continue to focus on intent, and incorporate more natural language to your website (Search Engine Land Sherry Bonelli). Set up your site to answer searchers’ questions. Adding FAQ sections are a great way to have natural language on your website that can provide instant answers to searchers (Search Engine Watch).
Understand the difference between users performing a text search and users performing a voice search. Adjust your website content accordingly. When you conduct a text search, you use general themes and shorter keywords, especially with a mobile device where less typing is better. However, when you speak your search, you will most likely use your own language and a more conversational tone (Moz). Long-tail queries are more colloquial and are characteristic of voice searches (Search Engine Journal).
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly (the majority of voice searches are conducted on a mobile device) (Search Engine Land Sherry Bonelli). Several of aJuxt’s blog posts on SEO have expressed the necessity of mobile-friendly design and this has not changed–rather it’s grown even more vital.
In 2015, Timothy Tuttle shared some interesting statistics at LSA16, showing that in that year, voice searches climbed from “statistical zero” to 10% of all searches (roughly 50 billion per month) by year’s end. Voice Searches have risen every year from 2008 until 2016, with no sign it’s slowing down (Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report). As technology is becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, the future of internet search engines is conversational language. Your website needs to reflect that. Don’t know where to start? We can help! Click here to reach me!