What Does Google Voice Search Mean for the Future of SEO

optimize for voice search

What Does Google Voice Search Mean for the Future of SEO

Search engines have undergone an extreme evolution over the past several years as platforms like Google update its algorithms to provide better search experiences for users, surface more useful results and incorporate new technologies that cater to rapidly-changing mobile and voice search functionalities.

As a result of the previously mentioned innovations – namely voice functionality – the world of search engine optimization is on the brink of some significant and meaningful changes that will forever alter the landscape.

As it stands, voice search is continually absorbing increasing swaths of total searches across the globe. In 2016, Google revealed that roughly 20 percent of mobile queries were voice searches. That figure has undoubtedly grown since as the popularity of the technology has spread beyond smartphone usage. Currently, one in five Americans owns a smart speaker equipped with voice search technology.

The transition from traditional to voice search has primarily been driven by AI assistants and smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri.

The convenience of such systems has positioned voice to become the search standard in years to come. This idea is supported by the fact that over 41 percent of adults conduct at least one voice search per day. Meanwhile, comScore predicts that voice searches will account for 50 percent of all searches by 2020.

However, considering that voice searches are fundamentally different from their traditionally-entered counterparts, there are significant changes on the horizon for the SEO industry.

Voice Search SEO

How Voice Search Impacts SEO

As voice search continues to take over more of the total search pie, text-based queries will not vanish completely; however, SEO will fundamentally change in several important ways.

Firstly, the average query will become longer as voice searches tend to be protracted and more conversational in tone. While text searches are around two to three words, voice searches average of five words or more.

Additionally, voice searches tend to be posed as a question instead of a phrase, as text queries are typically structured. As a result of both alterations, keyword strategies will fundamentally change. More on that later.

Finally, voice commands tend to reveal a higher level of user intent than traditional searches. For digital marketers, this point is vital as the intent of a user is what enables brands to get in front of consumers in the SERPs with relevant content and products. The more a brand can utilize intent-driven natural language in their keyword strategy, the more likely they are to surface for related searches.

The Voice Search Dominated Future of SEO

In the years to come, voice search will grow in depth and breadth, meaning that it will be used more frequently and become more sophisticated in its understanding. Because of this inevitability, online business owners and marketers must learn to optimize their SEO strategies for voice search before the future comes crashing down on them.

As with SEO’s current iteration, content will be the backbone of all efforts. While many site proprietors are already crafting stellar content, it must shift to become more conversational to answer searchers’ more colloquially-phrased queries.

Since most voice searches come in the form of a question, marketers should seek to craft content that answers these accurately and concisely in an attempt to surface in Google’s rich answers box. However, these succinct answers should be contained within more comprehensive content as sites must still cater to desktop audiences who are more likely to conduct more extensive research. Therefore, businesses and marketers should be appealing to both types of users.

Moreover, as Google’s engine and algorithms grow increasingly sophisticated and become more capable at interpreting context, spelling instructions and other complex content and commands, marketers must ensure that their content and keywords are spelled correctly and are properly optimized.

Finally, a location will be one of the main elements of voice search SEO as many searches are focused on producing local solutions. This means that businesses with brick-and-mortar locations must ensure that their listings are up-to-date and consistent across all destinations.

How Businesses Can Optimize for Voice Search

To effectively thrive in the voice-activated future of search, businesses will need to adjust their SEO blueprints to align with the trends that emerge as a result of the new search modality.

The first step to adapting to voice search SEO techniques is to place an even greater emphasis on long-tail keywords. While a sizable number of brands are currently optimizing their content and website pages with long-tail keywords, these phrases will only grow more dominant as their usage increases. Therefore, SEOs and marketers should increasingly focus their keyword efforts on conversational questions, keywords and intent-focused terms. To do so, brands should focus on solving specific problems for their audiences and providing complex answers that a machine cannot generate on its own.

The next essential step in capitalizing on the voice search era is learning to effectively implement schema markup as this will help to provide additional context to a site’s content. Mastering this discipline will help engines further understand what a site is about, thereby increasing their chances of obtaining better rankings.

Finally, websites must be mobile-friendly. This should go without saying as so many of Google’s efforts revolve around mobile devices (i.e., the mobile-first index, the AMP Project, etc.).

Affordable Web Design & Marketing

The bottom line is that if a site is not optimized for mobile, Google will not surface it for voice searches, desktop, mobile or otherwise.

As the prominence of voice searches continues to proliferate mobile audiences and the growing number of smart speaker users, its impact on SEO will become increasingly pronounced. If a web presence is essential to your business, consider hiring an experienced SEO agency.

The best way for marketers and business owners to understand how voice search will affect SEO and how it will evolve in the future is to begin using it as a customer. By placing one’s self into their customers’ shoes, they become much more capable of effectively optimizing content in a meaningful way.

The future of search is voice-activated. It will permanently alter SEO. Start optimizing now or fall behind when the tipping point is reached.

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