Voice Search & SEO: Everything You Need to Know

Internet marketing is an ever-changing business. Techniques which work today could be worthless tomorrow.

We’ve gone from spamming keywords to crafting info-rich content. We’ve gone from a world where most searches were conducted on a desktop PC to one where they’re mostly conducted on a mobile device.

Is Voice Communication the next big thing?

Well, don’t throw away your keyboard just yet. But voice already has a big impact on search behavior. And it’s likely to only grow more influential in the future. Let’s take a look:

Voice Queries

We’ve been able to talk to our devices for a while now, but it’s only been relatively recently that they’ve been able to talk back. Personal assistants such as Siri and Cortana aim for a real-time, two-way conversation. These are also known as Digital Assistants or Virtual Assistants.

Users who search by voice are usually asking a question. These users:

  • want quick, simple and direct answers
  • expect a more informal, casual conversational style
  • are likely to be searching while using a mobile device

Some common requests for a personal digital assistant include making an online purchase, booking a ticket or finding a nearby location.

Voice Search and Mobile

Last year, mobile search on Google surpassed desktop searches. This applies to voice searches, too. If you optimize your site for mobile voice search, you’ll be able to capture these queries and increase your SERP.

Semantic context is key when optimizing for voice. With the Hummingbird update, Google shifted away from specific keyword matches. Now, Google matches are based more on user intent.

This means you want your content to use natural language. Digital assistants aim to provide direct answers, not lists of relevant websites.

The Importance of Questions

People ask direct questions, which differs from traditional search in some significant ways. For instance, if someone searches for the term “Toyota Camry,” they could want a variety of different types of info such as prices, maintenance instructions, local dealerships, product specifications or something else entirely.

If the question is asked by a person, however, more information is provided:

  • “How much does a Toyota Camry cost?”
  • “What Toyota Camrys are for sale?”
  • “How do I change a battery on a Toyota Camry?”

You want to position your brand to be the answer to these questions. To help optimize, you can break down user questions into six categories:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
  • How

Attempt to answer these questions as they relate to your brand. For instance, if many people are searching for “Where can I buy a Toyota Camry,” and you run a Toyota dealership, you’ll want to emphasize location throughout your content.

“Where” questions are usually what you want to focus on the most. This because someone out shopping for a product is already far down the Conversion Funnel and are ready to buy. You want to push your brand while the customer is in a spending mindset.

What to Watch Out For

Voice search still has a few hiccups. Probably your biggest hurdle is going to be spelling, especially any spelling related to brand names. Be aware that you might run into some problems if your brand name is:

  • an acronym (ESPN had some problems a few years back being recognized)
  • a foreign language (Yves St. Laurent is known to trip virtual assistants from time to time)

If you have a brand name affected, you’ll want to test bidding for the most commonly mispronounced keywords.

Voice Searches are Growing in Popularity

Is your site going to completely fail if you don’t spend a ton of time optimizing for voice search? Of course not. But two-way voice communication is only going to be more common over time. You want to optimize your sites with an eye on the future.

There’s another benefit, too. Optimizing for voice means optimizing for mobile – and mobile users are a huge market in any industry.