OK Google, What Should I Know About Voice Search and SEO?

Today’s consumer craves information; and they’re not particularly patient in terms of when they get it. They want information to be accessible and immediate. Where is the best pizza place in town? What is the weather forecast for this weekend? How do I get rid of ants in my kitchen? What is Pokemon Go all about? (fun fact: Pokemon Go was the #1 most searched term in 2016)

Typing no longer gets them this information fast enough. Cue voice activated personal assistants (eg. Cortana, Google Now, Siri, etc). These devices are constantly improving and consumers are using them more and more — in fact, 35 times more than in 2008. Voice search is happening; it’s growing in popularity, and as marketers we can’t ignore it.

So what can we do about it? Think SEO and local listings management. Here are some quick tips to incorporate into your marketing plan:

1. Web sites need to be easily crawlable.

This should already be on your radar, but basic SEO tactics are becoming even more crucial as search engines scan the web for answers. Double check and optimize your schema markup, meta tags, sitemap, etc. against the latest search engine guidelines.

2. Focus on long-tail keywords.

We speak differently than we write. Voice search will utilize verbal keywords that tend to follow a dialogue. For example, someone looking for a good Mexican restaurant may type into a search bar, “Mexican food”. However, users are more likely to ask a voice assistant, “where is the best Mexican restaurant in town?” or “where can I get a really good quesadilla?”. Researching and choosing long, conversational keywords can increase your ranking for longer, more specific queries.

3. Create conversational content.

Voice search emulates a conversation. Your website should already speak to its visitors, but simple edits could benefit voice assistants. Think about how you read your content internally versus how you would recite it aloud. A detailed FAQ page on your site is a great way to answer anticipated questions in a conversational tone.

4. Claim and optimize your local listings on every major site.

If a consumer asks for something “near me,” the search engine taps local listings. Depending on which voice assistant is used, the default local results may come from Google, Yelp, Apple Maps, or another database — and you are going to want your information to be right on all of them. Manually claiming and optimizing each location across the major sites is key to showing up. You should also update any possible location changes such as hours, phone number, and any closures or moves. If your information is not up-to-date or unavailable, consumers will move on to a competitor.

The future of search is conversational. Don’t get left behind by optimizing your site for only text-based searches.

2 Responses to “OK Google, What Should I Know About Voice Search and SEO?”

  1. Duke Vukadinovic says:

    While SEOs are scared about this I think this idea has a great potential! Voice queries are more conversational and reveal greater intent, so instead of just searching for an answer, users can make a request or command as well.

  2. Greg Sterling says:

    Some are concerned because it implies meaningful changes in how content is presented, and few people understand how disruptive this will be right now. But more significantly Voice Optimization and Virtual Assistants offers fewer slots for discovery. More people will be competing over less “real estate.”

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