How Voice Search Will Impact Your SEO Strategy

By: Janet Couperthwaite

Voice search is so simple and straightforward that it is changing consumer behavior, search strategies, and consumer expectations. It shows no sign of slowing down and will continue to be a major influence on how brands create content and market themselves online.

According to Google, we’re currently sitting at about 20% of consumers using voice searching over text search. The prediction that 50% of consumers using voice search by 2022 didn’t pan out, but voice search is increasing exponentially each year and the prediction is that 50% of consumers will be using it in the near future.

According to research by PwC, 61% of those aged 25–64 who already use a voice device intend to use it more in the future. Optimizing content for voice searches is a whole different ball game. Search strategists are no longer looking at short, concise titles full of keywords, which is what consumers would search for when typing. They are looking at questions and answers, long titles using natural language that is “consumer-friendly”. So how will this impact an organization’s SEO strategy?

1. Voice Searches have longer “queries” than text search

The average text search is somewhere between 1-3 words. Searchers these days know that they don’t need to type in full sentences to get the

results that they want. In comparison, voice search is generally longer-tailed keywords, with 7+ words.

2. Voice search encourages natural language

When using voice searching, consumers are generally asking Google, Siri, Cortana, etc. for answers to questions. In fact, industry has seen a healthy growth in searches that start with questions, and those questions do a much better job in revealing intent of the search.

3. Voice search tends to be more locally driven

Mobile voice searches are 3X more likely to be “locally based” than text search, according to PwC. In fact, two of the biggest use cases for voice searching is calling someone and asking for directions. This places great importance on both location and call extensions

Even if you aren’t ready for smart speaker advertising just yet, it’s important that your content is optimized for voice searching. The largest group of voice searchers are 34-44 years old (Millennials & GenY). But don’t count out older generations – baby boomers have seen the largest increase in voice searches in recent years – with 51% saying they have used voice searching in the last 12 months. We may not be at 50% of consumers using voice searching by 2022 as predicted, but this is not a trend and companies who start managing overall SEO strategy to include it, will need to optimize correctly and efficiently otherwise they could be easily defeated by those who do follow these shifts in consumer search behavior.

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