Amazon Alexa on table

Alexa, Will Voice Search Affect My SEO Strategy?

Is voice search the end of SEO as we know it? Should SEO specialists be looking for another job (asking for a friend!)? There is a lot of buzz in the marketing world right now about voice search and how it will play a role in SEO — and if it will make SEO obsolete. Before all marketers collectively lose their minds, let’s take a closer look at the data:

  • 1 in 6 Americans now own a smart speaker (Source: Techcrunch). That number equates to approximately 39 million people, including my grandmother.
  • By 2020, it’s estimated that 50% of all searches will come from voice search. (Source: comScore). Does that number seem high to you, or is just me?
  • Currently, 20% of mobile searches are voice searches. (Source: Google) Siri, should I be freaking out now?
  • Mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local-based than traditional text. (Source: Search Engine Watch). Siri, who is hiring an ex-SEO-specialist near me?!

And finally:

  • Google’s AI has read nearly 3000 romance novels to improve its conversational speech (Source: Search Engine Journal). THAT’S MORE THAN MY GRANDMOTHER.

Now that we’re all sufficiently imagining our rankings plummeting and the sky falling, take heart — there is good news. By understanding how voice search works, you can understand how to optimize for it — and it’s not different from what you should already be doing.

1. It’s Not Just About Keywords; It’s About Intent

Semantic search is a data-searching technique in a which a search query aims not only find keywords, but also to determine the intent and contextual meaning of the words a person is using for search. (Source: Techopedia). Google not only considers keywords, but also factors in a user’s search history, search patterns and location to give the user better results.

For example, if you were in Charleston and searched: “charleston books,” Google would show you bookstores in Charleston as opposed to books about Charleston. This isn’t new, and it’s not just applicable to voice search — user intent is considered in every search, whether it’s voice or text.

So how do you leverage this?
Consider optimizing for a variety of related longer-tail keywords. People search conversationally particularly in voice search, and your strategy should reflect this.

2. Write For People, Not Google

If you’re trying to find customers through Google, and Google’s customers are your customers, doesn’t it make sense for you to write your content for the customers? Stuffing content with keywords alone doesn’t work anymore (see above).

Your content should be informative, useful and relevant to the user. Look at your own website’s search history to see what people are looking for. Do you have a customer service team or form? See what people are asking and pay special attention to how they are asking it. Answer FAQ questions via in-depth blog posts or directly on the customer page and use the language your customers are using.

3. Your Website Should Be Mobile-Friendly … Already

“Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.” (Source: Google)

This tip comes straight from the search engine’s mouth. Sixty percent of searches are done on mobile device (Source: Statista). Voice search or not, this is a must. Take this Mobile-Friendly Test from Google, and if the results are “no,” its time to upgrade.

4. Directories Will Become More Important

Remember how voice search is three times more likely to be local-based than traditional text? Well, at the top of local search — especially for businesses like restaurants and services — are directory sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor and a dozen others.

Rather than kill yourself trying to compete with these, use them to your advantage. Make sure you have your business listed on all of the big directories and niche ones for your industry and check that your information is up-to-date. The key to getting to the top of these directory sites is reviews — quality and quantity.

5. Voice Search Is Here To Stay

It’s predicted that half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020 — and that means it’s not going to go away. There are so many other factors that are still evolving and being discovered; however, if you want to improve your SEO strategy for today and get ahead of the curve for tomorrow, consider implementing all of these SEO tips now.

No need to panic. Were you panicking? I wasn’t panicking at all.