Voice search is taking over the world and is here to stay. According to eMarketer, 35.6 million Americans used a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month in 2017, per eMarketer—a year-over-year increase of 128.9 percent.
So how does that play into effect for internet searches and SEO on your website, blogs and landing pages?
Search engine optimization, more widely known as SEO, is by no means an easy thing to tackle. For businesses, SEO is a constant, on-going commitment that requires a strong investment of both time and money to achieve.
There are always SEO improvements that can be made to a site’s content, especially with regular algorithm updates, and that’s what makes it such a challenge. In order to stay on top and continue winning traffic over your competitors, you have to keep yourself up-to-date on the latest algorithm changes.
More than that, you have to be proactive and anticipate new trends as they start to occur. Voice search is one of those trends that requires your proactive response.
What is voice search?
Around the world, more and more people are using their voice to search for things. No longer are people sitting down to a computer to type things in, nor are they pulling their phone out of their pocket to open the mobile browser. Instead, smart watches and personal AI assistants like Siri and Cortana are taking hands-free voice search to the mainstream.
According to Google, voice commands will make up 50% of global search traffic in 2020. That is a huge revolution that your business absolutely needs to start preparing for.
How big is voice search now?
Location World reported that over 40% of adults used voice search on a daily basis in 2016.
It is difficult for anyone to estimate just how big the voice search market is since Google hasn’t published the exact numbers yet. But, based on their own assumption that it will make up more than half of web traffic in a matter of a couple years, it’s safe to assume that the numbers are promising.
In general, we are well aware that the voice search trend is on the rise and it will soon make up the majority of all searches. That’s what your business needs to focus on.
Why voice search?
Many things are factoring into the growth of voice search. First and foremost, voice recognition systems are becoming more popular and sophisticated (Microsoft’s own program has an error rate of just 5.1%, which is equal to its human counterparts).
Digital assistants are now in just about everyone’s pocket, and that makes the act of voice searching much more accessible and simple for everyone. More people are using these systems now, so voice search is quickly becoming the standard.
Smart speakers have definitely catalyzed the rise of voice search too. Although similar tech has been on the market for years now, the sale of smart speakers tripled in 2017 as Amazon Echo and Google Home rose to prominence. Since these speakers rely almost exclusively on voice commands, this is boosting the number of voice search queries substantially.
The Repercussions to Consider
In the coming months, it is safe to assume that voice recognition and smart speakers will continue to grow more advanced and more popular. This should, as Google and others predict, spark the voice search revolution at full-scale.
What repercussions would that have in the search world?
- Complicated queries. The things people are typing into the address bar are already becoming more difficult to decipher. Users no longer need to phrase things carefully in order to come up with the right results. RankBrain, Hummingbird, and other elements of Google’s algorithm work to decipher these complex queries, which is leading SEO to favor longer keyword queries and the need to target broader topics over specific sub-topics.
- Audio only. Smart speakers are conditioning people to make purchases and discover information with only their voice. Eventually, this could lead to a decline in visual mediums. We will need to rethink how information is presented to the audiences, perhaps by creating an entirely new structure. After all, there’s no point in designing a traditional website for this large and growing audience if they can’t see it.
- Shorter engagement. A voice-based search simply isn’t suitable for a long-term session of research. Rather, these queries are all about quick interactions, like looking up a local restaurant or figuring out the name of an actor. This gives businesses less of an opportunity to make an impression on users.
- More pressure to be on top. Although most digital assistants provide multiple options, they typically rely on the top position, or even an internal knowledge base, when giving an answer. Simply being on the first page doesn’t cut it any longer.
- It’s more local. Most voice searches have a local intention since most users are interacting with voice search while on the go. This will lead to an uptick when it comes to locally-focused queries, which will lead Google to place more emphasis on local results.
So, how should your business be acting?
How Businesses Need to be Proactive with Voice Search
There are a few steps that a business should take in preparation of the growing voice search trend:
- Audit your strategy: Your current strategy needs to be revamped. Ask yourself how much effort your business is putting into targeting long-tail keywords. Then, consider how much time you can devote to targeting voice searches.
- Brainstorm new targets: You need to carefully rethink your business’ keyword strategy. Know how many targets are head keywords, how many are general topics, and how many are long-tail.
- Pick your fights: You might need to select a handful of SERPs that you’re going to fight very hard to gain the top spot. The fight for keywords that aren’t as critical to your business may need to be forgotten or put off.
- Stay local: Local SEO is well worth your time and money. Now is the time to begin investing in it if you have not been already.
- Rethink advertisements: PPC ads especially may require a new approach as consumers begin acting with ads differently. You may need to upgrade your business’ ads to a new format.
- Stay on your toes: More changes are ahead, that’s one thing that is for certain. Prepare your business for changes down the road because they are definitely going to come, whether it’s months or years from now. The voice search revolution is still hazy on the horizon, but it is something your business should be looking towards and preparing for.
Be proactive and stay on your toes. SEO is constantly changing but, luckily for you, it’s unlikely to completely transform overnight. Focus on making incremental tweaks and gauging the results as things shift and change.
Need help making sure you are getting ready for voice search? Reach out and schedule a call with us today.
We work with businesses who want to grow, but are frustrated that their website is not generating the kind leads that they want. We use a variety of digital tactics to help your practice grow – including website design, blogging, social media, optimization, lead nurturing, reporting, and more. What’s most important is that we use these tactics in a systematic, unified, and measurable way so they ultimately drive more visitors and leads and help you hit your growth targets.