Man using voice search on his smart watch

How should eSellers handle the voice search surge?

As technology improves and users continue to look for enhanced convenience in their digital experiences, voice search surges as well. It may seem like a small thing on the surface, but the manner and approach to voice-activated Google searches leads to different results relative to conventional text-based searches. Therefore, your strategies to search engine optimization need to adapt too.

A voice search simply means that the user speaks the query into a device as opposed to the traditional text-based query entered into a search bar on the computer. The following is a look at several critical effects related to the trend of increasing voices searches, along with some suggestions and tips on how eSellers should adjust.

Just how significant is the voice search surge? Google and Bing have both reported data in the last year that indicates between 20-25% of all searches on a mobile device are voice-activated. In addition to people performing such searches on iPhones and Androids, Smart Watch users enjoy this feature as well. As the marketplace gets more accustomed to this pattern of behavior and more people have access to the technology, expect the volume of voice searches to rise even more.

“How is a voice search different than a text search?”

The primary reason that you need to distinguish the impact of voice searches from traditional text searches is that the execution by users is different. Whereas online users tend to enter keywords, often between two and six words, voice searches normally submit a query in the form of a question.

As an example, a traditional searcher might conduct a query for, “Best Sushi Restaurant in Dallas.” In contrast, someone looking for similar information is likely to vocally ask the question, “What is the best sushi restaurant in Dallas?”

When you consider the influence of keywords in content marketing and SEO strategies, it is clear how this varied approach to searches impacts potential results. Thus, in general, it makes sense to attempt to present your blog articles and other content as an in-depth response to the question you anticipate a user to pose.

As usual, Google adapts quickly

No one is faster to respond to the way users conduct searches that Google itself. The company prides itself on constantly updating its algorithm to give users the most useful and relevant results possible.

Realizing that a lot of users now conduct voice searches while on the go, Google has been prioritizing direct answers to questions ahead of links and descriptions to traditional search page listings. Ideally, the company wants a user to get a “rich answer” to the question on the top of the page, without the need to clickthrough to another resource.

Rich answer boxes have increased in prominence on Google in the last couple years. A recent MarketingProfs infographic noted that 43.3 percent of voice searches lead to a rich answer being offered, as compared to 40.6 percent of text searches.

Do your research

Before eSellers dive all in on optimizing SEO to voice searches, it is important to consider common traits among these queries. Thankfully, Google has provided access to some excellent research on voice search that offers insights into this area.

One of the least surprising and most important qualities of a typical voice query is that it is conducted by someone on the go. The person is usually away from home and wants a quick answer to a question or directions to a local spot. Given that these queries are normally submitted on Smartphones and smaller devices, users performing them don’t want an involved website experience. The searches are often functional as opposed to a deep query for sensitive information.

Strategize accordingly

Armed with a solid understanding of the impact of voice search, and the manner in which it is conducted, you can plot some effective strategies within your SEO. First, this trend makes the importance of high-quality content even greater than it has been before. Make it a goal to offer an efficient answer to a problem or question that Google believes is the best, most concise answer possible based on its user-friendly algorithm. If you consistently execute in this way, expect some solid traffic from people clicking on the rich answer box at the top of the page.

Rich answers tend to offer thorough coverage of a question, but in a concise way. In some cases, number lists or bullet points contribute to success in landing in this top spot.

Dig in even more deeply in your market and keyword research. You must learn the types of questions your targeted users are likely to speak during a query so that you can target this long-tail phrase, and also provide the accurate response that the user and Google value.

Bear in mind that the nature of your products and services, and the typical problems and queries of your users may not lead to a high percentage of voice-activated searches. In fact, eSellers aren’t likely to be as affected by the voice surge as local providers looking to attract in-store traffic. People online tend to spend a bit more time investigating solutions and are willing to read through in-depth content, supported by visuals and videos. Thus, don’t completely overhaul your content approach if your users aren’t a large part of this general marketplace trend.

Conclusions

One constant in search engine optimization is change. As users learn to use convenient features of new technology devices, their search behaviors adapt. Don’t ignore the impact of voice searches, which will only increase in coming months and years. The eSellers that adapt their strategies to suit are more likely to attract traffic from relevant searches than competitors who don’t.

You don’t necessarily want to get away from what is working either. As noted, if your customers don’t match the common traits Google identified among voice searchers, continue to emphasize high-quality content that is relevant and useful.

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