SEO for the Rise of Voice Search
Ten years ago, you might have thought that voice search was a fad. It isn’t. More people are using voice-enabled technology to search the web than ever before. Even to groups who aren’t tech-savvy, such as children and older people, voice search comes naturally. It has been estimated that as many as 50% of searches are by voice in 2020. From a marketing perspective, this has big implications.
Here’s what you need to know about the rise of voice search, and how it impacts SEO.
Why Is Voice Search So Popular?
If you don’t use voice search very often, you might find it baffling that it has become so popular. But the truth is that there is no shortage of situations in which voice search is a more convenient option than text.
Let’s use a classic example: cooking. How often have you wanted to look something up while cooking? Perhaps you’re following a recipe and want to check a unit conversion. Or maybe you don’t have an ingredient and want to know what’s a good substitute. In this scenario, it’s a lot easier simply to use your voice. You don’t have to go through the trouble of washing your hands, drying them off, and then typing something out with your fingers.
The ubiquity of voice-enabled technology is also to blame. Apple launched Siri in 2011. Since that time, other ‘virtual assistants’ have become a mainstay on smartphones. Then came the advent of the smart speaker. As it stands, roughly one in four adults has an Amazon Echo or some other smart speaker in their home.
Nothing indicates that this is a passing trend. In all likelihood, the prevalence of voice search will only increase as time goes on.
How Does this Impact SEO?
If you’re not convinced that the rise of voice search will have substantial impact on SEO, consider this: voice searches typically produce only one search result. It used to be enough for your website to be on the first page. Now, it has to be the first item on the first page.
If you’re concerned with marketing, this realization can be intimidating. Thankfully, there are ways that you can tweak your SEO to be more suited to searches by voice.
If we can distill it down into a single point, it would be this: voice searches are conversational, so your keywords should be too.
Let’s think about a typical text search. Here are a couple:
- Smith Island cake recipe
- Baltimore dentist
If these were voice searches, they would probably look more like this:
- How do I make a Smith Island cake?
- Who is the best dentist in Baltimore?
What we can see here is that traditional text searches tend to be stripped down. They hardly resemble the way people speak. By contrast, voice searches are often significantly more conversational in tone. This should concern you because these sorts of searches yield significantly different results.
There is a lot to unpack in terms of the implications of voice search for SEO. But one of the most straightforward steps that you can take to optimize your website for voice search is by using more conversational keywords. Try to use more interrogative words (who, what, where, when, why, how). Notice how these appeared at the beginning of both of our voice search examples above. Also, try not to omit other words that insignificant in a text search, such as articles and conjunctions.
Obviously, you’re going to need to increase the length of your keywords to accommodate these extra words. This is why you want to use what are called long-tail keywords. At first, this may seem counterintuitive. But the rules of SEO change annually, and you don’t want to be left behind.
If the rise of voice search doesn’t change the way you think about keywords, it should.
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