“Real search is about providing valuable information when it’s really needed to those who are actually looking for it.”
— David Amerland, Author of SEO Help: 20 Semantic Search Steps that Will Help Your Business Grow
Smartphone devices have altered the SEO scene in more ways than could have been predicted. Voice search has now been implemented on millions of mobile phones across the world, causing things in the world of SEO to drastically shift.
Believe the hype and hearsay that voice search will soon transcend typing queries into a box for answers. The old form of search will soon be archaic for many types of queries. While desktop-typed search will remain as the primary mode of conducting in-depth research, all else will soon fall under the dominion of voice search.
This shift is currently underway as personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Now are integrated into a variety of portable and at-home products.
According to a late 2015 study by MindMeld, 61 percent of respondents adopted voice assistants within the 12 months leading up to the October survey and 55 percent of these users leverage the digital companions daily or weekly. This is a steep hike from the previous quarter where only 49 percent of respondents claimed to use the services regularly. Along with this increase, 48 percent claimed to be satisfied with their voice assistant. And while growth is slow, Amazon Echo adoption did raise by an additional two percent from the last quarter.
As these devices become more sophisticated and prevalent in nature, the use of voice search and intelligent personal assistants will reach a fever pitch, revolutionizing SEO once again.
A SEO Facelift
On-page SEO has always prioritized and relied upon the use of keywords relevant to any given search. Google’s Panda algorithm has banished engine-cheating tactics like keyword stuffing to make way for a better user experience. Keywords, on the other hand, are just as relevant and imperative as they ever were; and there is likely nothing that will ever change that. There is a transition, however, in the types of keywords that are taking up the lion’s share of voice searches.
With text-based searches, you might Google something like, ‘Pizza Hut’ and click on the location nearest you. With voice search, however, you are far more likely to ask, ‘Where is the closest Pizza Hut?’ When it comes to voice search, users most typically will ask a casually phrased, long-tailed question that begins with who, what, when, where, why, or how. Each of these key questions will indicate a different level of interest and user intent. And these are the very terms that are going to change SEO.
As voice search incorporates these questions so often, search engines will naturally look for content that will answer such a query.
How to Prepare for the Voice-Led SEO Revolution
The five Ws (and one H) listed above are going to become a massive driving factor for SEO, beginning this year. To optimize your site for these types of vocal searches, you need to address these questions starting with:
- Who owns your business?
- What does your business sell?
- What is your business’s phone number?
- When is your business open?
- Where is your business located?
- And other comparable searches
A great way to address these questions, outside of a Google My Business page, is to create a substantial Q&A section on your website. In addition to this information, list common questions asked by your customers and any others that you think they might ask or be interested in.
Once you have generated this section, you can move on to one of the single most important aspects of SEO: Content.
Putting Context to Content
As always, content needs to be a top priority and must focus on the user. In this case, users will be asking specific questions that need to be heavily explored by your copy. When crafting content for your site, ask yourself the following questions:
- What questions will visitors be looking to answer on this page? Does it currently meet those needs?
- Is the information found here comprehensive and complete or will visitors have to return to the search results for more material?
- In what context will a user search for a page like this?
- Is this page (and site) optimized for mobile search?
- Can visitors scan this content and easily ascertain what the page is about?
- Does the page’s first impression reel in visitors or send them packing?
You can answer all of these questions by simply asking them of employees, friends, family, and various site-evaluation websites.
And, of course, do make sure to continue to incorporate relevant keywords to help search engines find your content and site when applicable queries are entered. Additionally, long-form content will rank better than most pieces less than 1,000 words. Again, make sure the information detailed is in-depth, comprehensive, and dives into many, many questions that could be asked on the topic at hand.
Don’t forget the power of visuals, either. Adding photos, videos, infographics, and other engaging elements will help to retain visitors longer, and will assist search engines in understanding your content.
The old SEO checklist of including keywords, incorporating title tags, building links, and so forth is now just the tip of the iceberg. As users continue to access search engines through the means of voice search, SEOs and business owners must adjust their strategies and optimize their pages accordingly.
If you don’t already, begin to use voice search and see how this alters your search patterns. Learning from first-hand experience could be your greatest ally in getting a leg up in the new world of voice-driven SEO.