We all know Siri, that voice that comes from our iPhones that we either hate and turn off in our settings, or ask her to get us from point A to point B. Siri is just one example of the explosive growth of voice search technologies launched within the last decade along with others, such as Google Now and Cortana, which are changing search engine optimization (SEO) and end-user experience in completely unexpected ways. The old rules of SEO, and how the user interacts with search engines, is being redefined by this new technology.
For businesses to survive, they need to understand how to use this technology to their advantage. The first major change is the growth of natural language search. In the traditional paradigm of web searches, a user often has to break a search phrase down into specific terms in order to get a valid result. For instance, the search phrase would need precise details, such as ‘Best sushi restaurant, Seattle Washington’ to get the results the user was looking for. To get the same results from Google Now or one of the other spoken search engines, voice search commands could be as simple as “Where’s the best sushi place around here?” If you are wondering, the answer in both cases would be Umi Sake House, which, according to TripAdvisor, is rated number 25 of 3,012 restaurants in Seattle.
The key here is that spoken language search engines ‘speak’ and understand natural language. Gone are the days of convoluted search phrases and special operands and phrasing to make your search work correctly. This natural ease-of-use results in Millennials and Generation Y quickly dumping traditional search engines for voice search. The use of voice search on computers and tablets is a natural process for them, and a natural progression from the touch-screen and voice-driven devices they have grown up with.
This is having a serious impact on businesses that depend on SEO to drive traffic to their websites, most notably due to the fact that this is gradually eroding the value of keywords in searches. For instance, in a traditional search, the keyword-based search returns numerous links users may browse if they do not like the top result, giving the lower ranked websites a chance to get traffic. Voice search differs in that it only returns a single result, meaning businesses must change up their SEO marketing strategies.
There is also the question of advertising — pages of search results returned by a traditional search engine generally feature paid advertising as well as promoted (i.e. paid) links to drive traffic to specific sites. Voice search eliminates both avenues of generating leads and advertising for your business. Here are two key points to keep in mind to help your business survive and thrive on the web in the new age of voice-based searching:
- Write content for your site that is voice-search friendly. What does this mean? Voice search users will look for content using natural, conversational language. If your site is written in a similar style, you are more likely to drive traffic to your site.
- Make your content match what your users are looking for. This is as simple as brainstorming a few simple, conversational questions that would drive users to your site – and create content to match those questions.
Voice search abandons keywords in favor of basic ‘who, what, how, when, why’ questions. Your site should reflect this. Bonus points are awarded if you follow the same rules for blog posts and social media accounts. Voice search is the future, and how you survive is up to the steps you take today to stake a firm foothold in voice-driven search engines. Contact us for more information about optimizing your web presence for voice search. We don’t want you getting left behind!
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