“Hey Siri — Where is the nearest wing restaurant?”
“Hey Alexa — Where is the nearest bowling alley?”
“Hey Google — How late is Target open?”
Have you used a voice search-equipped smartphone app and/or digital assistant lately? Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant are being utilized more and more each day. They can give you answers and handle simple tasks when you’re at home, on the road or wherever you may be.
It’s way more convenient to be able to use your voice rather than typing when you are on the road or your hands are full.
General Voice Search Statistics
- 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore. (Is it even a post about voice search if you don’t lead with this stat??)
- About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, per Gartner.
- 13% of all households in the United States owned a smart speaker in 2017, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. That number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022.
- As of January 2018, there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month, per Alpine.AI.
What does this mean to a marketer?
Because of this fast-growing phenomenon, it means that marketers must develop new ways to tailor their SEO strategies to optimize for voice search. Here’s a closer look at some of the ways that voice search will shape the future of SEO and some best practices on how to go about optimizing.
1. Use of Long Tail Keywords & Searcher Intent
If I were to do a text search for “things to do in Phoenix,” you would have no idea whether I wanted Fun & Leisure or Sports & Outdoors, my price range, what age group I’m searching for or when I want to do it. But if I were to perform a voice search and say, “what are fun things to do for a family with small children this Saturday” this might bring up results for top 10 lists, reviews, prices, hours of operation, calendar of events, etc. Because speaking a longer, more specific search query is easier than typing one, voice search will often give more context about searcher intent. That means search engines can deliver more specific, relevant results in response to a query. This also means it’s a good idea to research relevant long tail keywords and integrate them into your content.
2. Recognizing Natural Speech Patterns
If you think about it, most people don’t type an email or text message the same way they might speak to you face to face. Example: You might text message a friend saying, “want to grab a bite?” But if you were to ask the same question in person you’d be more likely to say, “hey, do you want to grab a bite after work tonight?” Your natural speech pattern contains more context about your question than if you were to type or text it to someone.
It is increasingly important for SEOs to understand how the nuances of natural speech patterns affect search results.
3. Impact on Local SEO
According to Moz, voice searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text search because most smartphones today search for local listing results.
Most local searches are geared around “Where?”, “What?” and “How?” phrases like “where is the nearest gas station, store etc., near me?” Think about it, a smartphone knows your location, the weather outside, or whether there’s traffic ahead on the highway. All these factors help to narrow down your search results for better and more accurate results.
That means that we need to get smarter in our approach to local SEO to make sure we are picking up on voice searcher intent for keyword groupings around our business or industry. Simply put, structure your keywords around the 5 Ws (Who, What, Where, When and Why).
Also, since much of voice search is occurring on mobile devices, it’s more important than ever to make sure your mobile experience is as user-friendly — and as speedy — as possible.