Recently, a plethora of consumer electronics devices with voice assistant functionality have started invading our living rooms. Products like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and the Apple HomePod are instigating a revolution in the way users search the web.
When they were first released, you’d have to spend well over $100 to get your hands on one, but now they’re incredibly common. During last year’s Black Friday, for example, you could find a Google Home Mini selling for just $29. At those prices, home voice assistants go from being a niche product for techies to a mass market product for anyone.
Even if you don’t own these products, you likely have a voice assistant in their pocket right now. After all, just about every smartphone worth its salt comes with an integrated voice assistant.
Voice search is on the rise. Gartner, a large industry research firm, predicts that 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020. The rise of voice presents both a challenge and a major opportunity for SEOs.
Voice search is about to change everything.
Long-Tail Keywords Will Be Big
When it comes to typing, users are lazy. They will typically type as few words as possible to find what they want. Oftentimes, words like “a” and “the” will be left out. Thus, traditional SEO focuses on targeting succinct phrases like “Fort Lauderdale restaurant.”
When it comes to voice search, on the other hand, users tend to speak in full sentences and use a more conversational tone. For example, the same person looking for restaurants in Fort Lauderdale might instead search for “show me the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale.”
Considering natural speech patterns like these will be a big part of SEO in the future. It will be up to SEOs to put in the extra time doing long-tailed keyword research and optimizing websites for those kinds of searches. Otherwise, websites could miss out of a lot of important traffic.
Mobile Is Going to Be Even More Important
Voice assistants are making their way to the desktop. Microsoft added Cortana to Windows 10 and Apple added Siri to MacOS Sierra. However, the clear majority of voice searches are still happening on mobile devices. That means having a website that is optimized for mobile is more important now than ever before. If your website is not mobile optimized, its rankings are lowered by Google’s algorithms. Worse still, even if a user does find your website, they will likely leave if it’s not optimized for their device.
But how do you ensure that your website is mobile-friendly? A good place to start is by using Google’s mobile-friendly test. If your website does not pass this test, it’s unlikely to rank well on mobile search. Other factors like page load speed and good server response times also play an important role.
Content Will Be More Focused on Answering Questions
When users search with their voice, they are much more likely to ask a question. Many voice queries start with who, what, where, when, why, and how. Having FAQ pages on your website could be especially beneficial for these types of searches. Content writers may even consider structuring more of their blogs so they answer a question.
Pay Extra Attention if Your Traffic Comes from Younger Audiences!
If a significant part of your traffic is from younger demographics, everything mentioned above is even more important to you. Younger generations are more likely to use voice when searching. According to Google, more than half of teens use voice search daily. The most common searches involve asking for directions, playing music, looking for help on homework, and making a call. Many also use voice search to find local businesses. If millennials are important to your business, you should start focusing more of your SEO efforts on voice as soon as possible.
While voice search is growing by leaps and bounds, it’s still in its infancy. SEO experts today must try their best to prepare for the world of tomorrow. But the truth is, no one really knows what tomorrow’s world will bring. For the time being, the best thing to do is to stay on top of trends, focus on long-tailed keywords, and stick to a mobile-first SEO strategy.