One of the reasons I enjoy working in digital marketing is because the landscape is constantly changing. Technology gets better and cooler at crazy fast speeds so there are always new best practices and trends with which to stay abreast.
One such trend that’s shaking things up in the digital space as of late, and probably won’t go anywhere anytime soon: voice search. Yes, voice search isn’t brand new- Apple’s Siri has been around since 2011 and very basic speech recognition systems actually date back to the 1950s and 1960s – but over the past year or two adoption of voice-driven personal assistants has increased rapidly.
In 2013, only 15% of iOS users said they actually used Siri. Compare that to Google’s May 2016 announcement that 20% of its Android app searches were voice searches. I realize this comparison is Apple’s apples to Google’s oranges, but it’s at least indicative of significant growth. A substantial number of households now rely on Amazon Echo or Google Home devices to answer their questions without even touching a screen, so it seems pretty plausible that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.
So what does all this mean for digital marketers? While we can’t predict exactly how voice search will evolve, we should recognize that we’re going to have to start thinking differently in terms of SEO and how we organize content in general. Here are some points to ponder, and even start implementing, now:
- Voice searches are different than typed searches in that they’re typically more conversational and question-based, and likely a bit longer tail. Someone typing in, “Westminster Best in Show 2017” might phrase it out loud as, “Who won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show this year?” Both queries would have the same outcome, but optimizing for each would be different. Depending on where the majority of your traffic comes from device wise (voice capability wise), that may drive your strategy as to the keywords and phrases you target, whether you include speech words (i.e. the five Ws and how), even the tone with which you write. Keep these things in mind as you add new pages and organize content.
- Hopefully you’re already keeping addresses, phone numbers, hours, menus and other relevant business information up-to-date across the web, but since we know that’s easier said than done, voice search reinforces the importance of verifying this information. Local SEO is already huge, and “mobile voice search is three times more likely to be local-based than text search.” Get started on optimizing local SEO now to make sure you’re capturing those spoken searches when customers are in the market to order takeout, visit a restaurant, call a plumber, etc.
- Voice searchers want answers quickly, and they want direct answers. Enter Schema markup, structured data that helps search engines return more detailed, helpful and rich information on results pages. If a voice search returns your website’s rich result to searchers who are ready to buy/do/call/schedule at that very moment, chances are your traffic/conversions/sales will benefit.
Guaranteed we’ll be hearing a lot more about voice search as 2017 rolls on and I know I’ll be paying close attention.