SEO is one field everyone wants to get a grip on. Why? Because it is directly linked to bringing in customers, which in turn affects the overall turnover and profits; which is all that matters at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if you’re an online business selling cookies and cakes or a fitness related e-commerce brand or a traditional marketplace with a whole lot of vendors under one roof, SEO is the basic need for all.
And SEO as a domain can be a lot of things, but consistency is not one of its strongest suits and analysts and strategists at Google and other search engine head offices are making sure of that. There’s a reason why SEO is such a slow, gradual and much needed process; its because it keeps on changing and is so dynamic in nature.
Basically search engines are getting as close to 100% relevancy as possible. In a bid to provide the consumers with crystal clear and relevant information, updates are being rolled out on a periodical basis. One such update was the voice search update.
As and when technology is moving ahead, voice search is becoming more and more prominent. After all, who had heard of using Siri over a decade ago?
First, let’s tackle the elephant in the room.
What exactly does voice search entail?
Voice search depicts the capability of your desktop or smart phone to in-take, analyze and react to your answer point i.e. voice using a digital personal assistant like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana.
The fact that you’re here reading this, most likely points out to the fact that you’re already indulging in voice search. Recent statistics have suggested that most smart phone users are moving towards voice search sooner rather than later, simply due to the matter of convenience.
The adoption numbers have grown drastically over the past few years and it is only going to move higher.
Behshad Behzadi, Director of Conversational Search at Google recently suggested that the company is monitoring voice search closely and has recognized that it is being adopted much faster than text search.
If Google’s hired minds are speaking this tongue, you have to take notice.
Not just convenience, but users are flocking to this modern-day method because of the low error rate. Google’s speech recognition system boasts an error rate of a mere 8%.
Most commonly, it used to find directions as that is one time we just can’t afford to be distracted. Behzadi in the same talk proclaimed that the future will see a wholesome mobile assistant being released which will help individuals with their daily chores, so that they can instead focus on the more important things.
Apart from the obvious reasons of improved acceptance and visibility, it can be definitely penned down that voice search is growing thanks to Microsoft’s very own Cortana. Now, we don’t yet know how to figure out which queries are coming from search and which ones are coming from voice in a traditional search engine.
However, queries coming into Cortana can be segregated into these lines. Only after 3 months from the release of Windows 10 OS, the usage of voice search had increased rapidly.
Now if you partner up with a professional SEO services company, you will get to know that voice searches are directly and indirectly affecting the SERPs. Is SEO dead? If you even have to ask this question, you’re not on the right path.
1. Length of the Query:
Automatically, this is the first thing that comes to mind, right? Because speaking a long sentence is so much better than typing it. Its simple common sense.
Now, as per a recent survey, it was found out that customers find themselves being more comfortable with a simple 2-3 word search string while typing text on their smart phones, desktops or tablets. And the same set of customers who were well equipped with the new voice search phenomenon admitted that when it comes to speaking and searching from a device; the length of the query is much longer.
This is where long tail keywords enter the fray.
Hence, the focus is shifting towards long tail keywords as and when voice search is getting more and more acceptance.
Instead of just writing ‘Best restaurant’, individuals are now searching for – ‘Which is the best restaurant near me?’. See the difference?
Now, we’re not asking you to stop focusing on short keywords, as that also occupies a quantum of audience. We’re just asking you to evolve, mix and match and adapt according to the status quo of how the customer market is running.
Keep your SEO strategy dynamic in the sense that you get the best of both worlds.
“The way you want to be treated is a lot like how Google wants to be approached. Play nicely. Mean what you say. Don’t try to deceive. Share good stuff. Be authentic. Be precise with your words.”
― Joel Conner, Digital Marketing with Tortoise & Hare: Start Well & Win The Race
2. Matter of Intent
Now this is certainly a game changer for everyone brand looking for voice search optimization. We all know that natural language showcases intent more strongly and directly.
Now a simple search string of an ‘LED TV’, might not tell you if the customer is looking to buy a new one, repair the current one or go for a refurbished model. Even though your eCommerce website design agency might tell you otherwise, there is no way by which you can decipher a customer’s mind through an indirect simple search string.
Here’s where voice search eliminates more than most possibilities to leave you with something that can be targeted upon. Customers tend to include these phrases in their questions such as – Where can I, how should I, what will I and so on. The questions are personalized as well as direct.
This way you can prioritize your keywords and bid/focus on the ones that are of more relevance to you + will get you more profits. For example, focusing on ‘What laptop should I buy under XXXXX (a certain value)?’ will yield more dividends than focusing on ‘Where is the nearest Apple store’.
Ergo, the gist is that you have to incorporate such personalized question based keywords in your strategy which should somehow contain words and pronouns such as ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘for’, and so on.
3. Impact on Local Search
The importance of SEO in eCommerce is skyrocketing on a daily basis; because digital marketers and company heads are now beginning to realize that they can’t keep spending bags and bags of money on social media and paid advertising, unless they have a huge financial backing.
SEO is the desired route to getting good organic leads and potential customers.
Voice search is as much as three times more likely to be local-region based than text search. This has also been complemented by the fact that local SEO is gaining more prominence now, thanks to the latest search engine updates.
What does it mean for local brands and businesses?
It means that you need to tweak your approach in a way that will allow local customers to find you easily with both text and voice searches, especially the latter.
Why will this benefit instantly? Because the big brands are in any case hogging up customers and online presence on a national and international scale. Getting your local SEO strategy right can prove to be a big difference maker as you have so much to gain.
What are the local spots of interest that matter to your brand?
How do the general folk in and around your neighbourhood speak? Which phrases do they most commonly use?
Are there any landmarks which need to be a part of your keyword strategy?
Such voice search and even text searches for that matter are getting more and more popular:
What’s the nearest grocery store?
Where can I find coffee nearby?
I need to find a good bakery near me?
Hence, improvisation is the key here. Its not necessary to win the battles; but triumph in the war. Now you might not stand in good stead on a national SEO scale; but doing well locally can well and truly get you customers. And the best part is that they will stick with you if you offer good services and products. Why again? Convenience of distance.
4. Save Room for Unique Search Strings + Call-to-Action
Voice search always has and will continue to trigger such quick fire questions and answers in the SERPs. Even though the strings might not be too conventional; this is where the profits lie. As someone searching for dance lessons nearby is actually pretty serious in terms of getting them.
These are those organic leads which have the highest potential of conversion. This makes good sense for unconventional businesses and vendors.
Also, these are those ads which allow users to act without actually having to visit a particular web page. Because there’s a ‘Call-to-action’ icon involved like ‘Book now’, ‘Call now’, along with contact numbers and a map as well.
Users can also check out your reviews and make their mind up right there and then. Hence, this is what becomes your landing page now; without the customer reaching your website at all. So you need to be wary of these aspects as well.
Hence, make it a priority that you keep your company information updated on search engine listing, local listings and any other websites where you’ve submitted your key information. This indirectly affects the SERPs a great deal.
Hence, it makes good sense to just stop what you’re doing right now, take a deep breath and then figure out how you can incorporate the fruit of voice search in your current SEO strategy. You don’t want to be left behind in this SEO and rankings race; because it might get too hard a blow for you to recover from.
And the world is moving forward; convenience is something which will always stay in fashion. This is why voice search is something which will never go off the market. It will only progress and progress quickly. Without compromising on the text search attributes, find a good balance between the two. Good luck!