Before it was introduced to the world by Apple in October 2011, Siri was a relatively unknown iOS app featured in the App Store. Even when it was introduced as a hallmark feature of the iPhone 4S, voice searches remained a relatively negligible statistic to SEO professionals who, at the time, championed the importance of desktop and mobile searches.
Jump forward to 2014 when 41 percent of adults and 55 percent of teens reported using Siri, Google Now or Cortana to conduct voice searches at least once a day. During 2015, the use of voice assistants rose to 10 percent of all searches globally. And, as of 2016, that number became even greater with Google announcing that 20 percent of all searches have voice intent and Microsoft announcing that 25% of all Windows 10 searches are voice searches.
What seemed like a “cool” feature only a few years ago has now become much more than that. For consumers, this jovially means having to make the seemingly impossible decision between some of the hottest technologies on the market right now – the Google Home and Amazon Echo. And while it’s easy to look at the consumer demand for these devices and simply dismiss it as another consumer fad, the explosion of voice searches that are now conducted on a daily basis as well as the clear demand for voice assistant technology both point towards a common theme: Voice searches are relevant to our modern lifestyle.
So what does that mean for SEO professionals in the new year? Here are a few of our thoughts.
How Voice Search Changes the SEO Landscape
Voice search will lead to a transformation – not just a change – in the way we both determine keywords as well as how we build websites around them.
Determining your best keywords has always been the foundation of any SEO strategy. Often, the exact keywords and phrases that a business builds their website around are determined in part by the search behavior of its customers. For example, a restaurant that is frequently discovered due to the phrase “Best chili in Cincinnati” may build its content around this term in order to attract customers looking for . . . well, the best chili in Cincinnati. In a post-voice search web, SEO professionals will still be charged with the task of speaking the user’s language but the language will sound very different from what businesses have traditionally built their sites around.
Voice searches present a drastic departure from the way these searches are constructed. In essence, voice searches are inherently more conversational. Many users will be seeking answers to everything from simple, single-focused questions to complex queries that require in-depth, but concise, information.
Instead of typing in “Best chili in Cincinnati” into a search box, a voice search may sound like this: “I’m really in the mood for chili today. Where’s the best place I can go to get some?” Already, it’s clear to see how voice searches not only change our process for selecting keywords, consequently, change the way content is created.
Given their conversational nature, queries issued to voice assistants can become as detailed and as specific as any conversation with a real person. What does this mean for SEO professionals? Both keywords and content, in turn, need to sound more natural with all of the detail and specificity that you would expect in an actual conversation.
While we’ve always championed well-written, long-form content for SEO, voice searches raise the bar on content demands even higher. You can no longer blast your message out to customers and hope to attract the audience you desire. A “brochure” website built around a handful of phrases simply won’t cut it. Instead, websites will need to become conversational, Success – now more than ever – is determined by your ability to anticipate user needs. At the very least, we expect to see businesses providing more question and answer style pages as well as more in-depth pages dedicated to a single topic.
Preparing for the Future Now
In only five years, voice search has risen to become a serious contender to desktop and mobile searches. We cannot begin to imagine the innovations it will bring over the next five, let alone over the next year.
Voice search will undeniably be one of 2017’s hottest topics in SEO. If your company has not already considered its own plan for success in a post-voice search web – it’s time to start.
What strategies does your company have in place for voice search?
At webFEAT Complete we can help you lead the competition. As your Search Engine Optimization partner, we will both help you achieve success today and position you for you for success in the future. No matter how the web changes, you’ll be ready. Contact us or schedule a consultation.
Also published on Medium.