The New Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Voice Search This 'voice-activated technology' has made things easier for lay users, but has thrown up new challenges for marketers

By Natasha Lorraine Menezes

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Imagine your new search engine — one which centers on voice instead of text. When you want to look for information on the internet, just pull out your smartphone and speak!

Enter the world of Voice Engine Optimization.

Voice search is growing at a breakneck speed for three main reasons:

  1. It's fast.
  2. The answer is read back.
  3. You don't have to type.

Not surprisingly, back in the mid-2000's, when customers were first introduced to virtual personal assistants like Cortana and Siri for voice searches, they were skeptical.

Not anymore.

According to Stone Temple, more than 50% customers prefer a Voice engine to perform their online search!

Such an unprecedented increase can be attributed to the advent of smart devices that have fundamentally changed the way we search, acquire, and process information.

Marketers Need to Prepare For

While this "voice-activated technology' has made things easier for lay users, it has thrown up new challenges for marketers, who are confronted with the morass of tailoring their strategies (especially SEO) for voice search.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella succinctly notes, "Human language is the UI layer."

The need of the hour is to build more "conversational canvases" in order to stay relevant.

Since we live in a world where Siri, Cortana and now Alexa patiently listen to grievances and questions, it is paramount for digital marketers to accommodate advanced keywords and highly specialized content.

Granted, there is no substitute for writing great content, but with the shrinking device size and attention span of users who want instant answers, it's important to cover all angles while developing voice-driven campaigns.

Let's explore how voice search will change SEO for the better in coming years.

Recognize the Speech Patterns

Most of us don't really type the way we talk, particularly while searching something on the internet.

When executing type-based search, there is an overbearing tendency to depend on shorthand. For example, if you're looking for a restaurant in Toronto, you're likely to type "good restaurants Toronto' or "top 5 restaurants Toronto.'

Not quite, in voice-based search.While speaking, you are invariably going to complete the question: "What are some good restaurants in Toronto?'

Therefore, it's becoming increasingly important for voice search to take cues from natural speech patterns.

Now this may create headaches while devising SEO tactics, but you at least have a better idea of how to create copy - one that understands and responds to commonly used phrases.

Moreover, voice searchers tend to have more pressing needs, falling in the "when' or "where' category of questions. According to Google, these needs are basically micro-moments and are divided into four types.

Source: Google

How do Brands Get Discovered?

Getting customers to discover you is not going to be an easy task, especially when the numbers are 57.8% (who use voice search on smartphones) and 60% (who use voice search at home), as per a report by Stone Temple.

Truth be told, there is a whole lot of difference between how people communicate verbally compared to how they do with their keyboards. This requires businesses to rethink their content strategy.

Usually people speak in a more colloquial way while performing voice searches and so it is better that marketers make their content simple and direct. In other words, make your content more localized.

Understanding your audience's conversational speech is the key. Think! Re-think! And filter your content to troubleshoot the issues they are facing.

How Does it Impact SEO?

Voice searches are innately conversational and have a context.

Hence, using long-tail query-based keywords that are closely related to your product or service is the way forward to optimize search engine discoverability.

As a thumb rule, make your content casual, conversational and as informative as possible. Voice searches have drastically reduced the search time for customers, which is why it is important that your content be in-depth and useful.

Answer all sorts of questions: Where? What? How? When?

The long and short of it is this: your website should be able to accommodate the evolving dynamics of not just text-based search but also voice search.

Preparing for the Future

Like it or deny it; voice search is already on its way to becoming a necessity for SEO. Be it Google Now for Windows 10, Siri for Iphone, or Amazon's Alexa — these platforms have transformed the way people look at information.

There is no doubt that voice search has reduced the search time dramatically, making consumers act faster, even accelerating purchase decisions in a much shorter timeframe.

However, businesses that include voice engine optimization in their marketing plan will stand to gain the lion's share of the market.

Over and out!

Natasha Lorraine Menezes

Co-Founder I Content Marketer I Content Strategist I The Words Edge

Natasha Lorraine Menezes has over 7 years of experience in Content Marketing with organisations such as WGSN, Myntra and Reliance Retail Ltd. before starting out "The Words Edge", a Content Marketing company. She is a guest Writer for Deccan Herald & YourStory, published Author of "7 Messages from the Yogi for Success" and Speaker at Startup events in Bangalore.

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