Voice search is here: rethink your SEO strategy

Voice search is here: stop whatever you are doing and rethink your SEO strategy

Written by Iñigo Etxebeste

Have you used voice search recently? If you work in the digital field, like using technology, or if you simply have a smartphone, the answer is likely yes.

According to comScore, half of all queries will be voice searches by 2020. This is a big statement, but seeing how many people we can spot out there speaking to their phones without anybody on the other side of the line, it’s not such a crazy idea.

Last year Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that 20% of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices were voice searches. Furthermore, towards the end 2015 a survey from MindMeld uncovered that there had been a huge increase in voice search and voice assistant usage compared to previous years, with 60% of survey respondents stating that they had started using voice search in the past year. Here’s the visual data about voice search usage and virtual assistants:

In 2017 alone, 25M devices are being shipped, increasing the number of voice-first mobile devices to 33M in circulation, according to VoiceLabs. Therefore not only is the trend among current users drifting towards voice search but there will also be more users capable of performing voice searches in the upcoming months and years.

Voice search queries are different to regular text-based searches in 3 main characteristics, according to Google:

One: they are usually about an on-the-go topic

Two: they probably won’t deal with sensitive information

Three: they usually don’t include searches for sites that will require a significant interaction

Searches performed using your voice instead of text are different in nature. When we ask a question to a search engine using our voice, we tend to formulate questions rather than sentences or simply typing key words. Voice search queries are also generally longer than text-based queries. The keyphrases will simply contain more words, according to Campaign:

What will be the impact on SEO?

While voice search will probably never entirely replace the existing screen-based searches, voice queries will soon be enough of a factor that companies need to understand strategies for being found by voice searches. Search queries will turn into more transactional searches over time, since virtual assistants and voice searches permit bookings and conversions. According to Location World, 40% of adults who search use voice search now once per day. And among all these searches, nearly half of them are now using voice search when researching products, Social Media Today stated.

Taking into account this fact and also the three characteristics by Google described earlier, you can get an idea of how voice search will shape the queries users will use to reach your key webpages (or your clients’ pages).

According to Link-Assistant, voice searches are more likely to display rich answers to users (43,3%), compared to text queries (40,6%). This also means many users won’t even leave the SERPs to access your website, if your content doesn’t add a value on top of the information displayed by Google on the search engine results pages.

With all this information at hand, there are a few things you can do to ensure your SEO strategy is aligned with the new scenario that voice search is shaping:

Adapt your key contents to answer conversational searches where users ask direct questions to the search engines

Watch your brand searches and make sure people are not mispronouncing them due to accent variations

Adapt also your landing pages as well as ad copy to account for high-value conversational searches

Add value to your contents so that you also attract users formulating questions that will be answered by Google’s rich snippets from their knowledge graph – go beyond Google in helping these users to engage with them

Target more high-value long-tail searches, these will keep growing as voice search grows

Can you think of any other way in which voice search will affect SEO and the conversion funnel?

Iñigo Etxebeste, July 26, 2017