The Many Ways Voice Assistants Are Changing SEO

An overwhelming three-fourths — or 75% — of U.S. consumers with voice assistants use them daily. A study by Voicebot and Cerence shows that 83.8 million drivers use voice-assisted technology in their cars. A recent article by CNET discusses Google, Amazon, and Apple’s initiatives to infuse voice assistants with lifelike personalities.

With voice-assisted technology inarguably on the rise, how will the new method of searching shape the future of search engine optimization (SEO)?

1. It’s Already Happening

Discussions of will it or won’t it change SEO — including organic and paid search — are moot. Voice-assisted technology and voice-assisted search are already having an impact, and that impact will only continue to grow in the future. In a study of 75,000 businesses, just 4% with a brick-and-mortar location indicated that they are “voice search ready.”

That is a glaring problem given that 50% of all searches in 2020 are voice-based–and only 4% of physical businesses are prepared for that shift! True, voice searches occur on Alexa and home assistants. Keep in mind consumers are also using voice search on smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, smart TVs, smart home systems, and built-in car consoles.

2. A Shift To Conversational Language

A little over half of web traffic — 51% — originates from organic search, not paid search. With that in mind, it is wise for local SEO services to tailor their approaches to organic search inquiries. With the use of voice search on the rise, the best way to do that is to keep search terms as conversational as possible.

In the past, users may have searched for a few key terms. Now, it is becoming more and more common for consumers to ask full-fledged questions. Optimize organic and paid search results to this new method of searching by brainstorming what questions people ask. Tools like Answer The Public help determine what questions users will ask using a given keyword or string of keywords.

3. Long-Tail Keywords Make A Comeback

For a long time, bids on long-tail keywords in paid search were considered strategic for two reasons: 1. to increase web traffic to local businesses and 2. to rank on keywords when it would otherwise be competitive. For example, being among the top results for the keywords “defense attorney” is difficult to do. Ranking among the top results for defense attorneys in a small town, however, is much more feasible.

Unlike traditional searches, voice searches are most likely to prompt results with searches that are three to five keywords long and begin with the words who, what, when, where, why, and how.

4. Searches Focus On Intent

Voice searches are most likely to focus on intent. Tighten up keywords and use action words to target these queries. Voice search may include terms like “buy, eat, find,” etc. Try to determine the action verbs most relevant to your service or product, and use those to your advantage. This sort of search also bodes well for businesses. Whereas traditional search may be more likely to ask for information, voice searches suggest intent. If you can rank on a voice search asking where to buy a particular product, you are more likely to convert that search into a sale.

5. To-The-Point Results Perform Best

Voice search is markedly different from organic and paid search in that it users are most likely to hear just one result or their voice prompts will bring up a search engine result page with a featured snippet at the top. From there, users are most likely to skim that featured snippet to get their answer–and that’s it. Keep snippets informative, substantial, and to-the-point to increase your chances of showing up among the top results.

A surprising 40% of consumers describe voice advertisements as less obtrusive than online or video ads. Voice search is becoming increasingly popular. Tap into this market using the tactics above and keeping an eye on current trends in voice search.

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