One of the biggest changes impacting the world of digital marketing today is the widespread adoption of voice search. Over the past several years, the use of smartphone assistants and smart speakers, such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Home, has skyrocketed. In fact, just last year the Echo Dot was one of the most popular gifts of the holiday season.
The rapidly rising adoption rate of digital voice assistants across the world has obviously made a significant impact on search trends and SEO. Just a couple years ago, voice search accounted for an incredibly small fraction of total searches worldwide. Today, we’re seeing more than 20 percent of all mobile searches being done by voice, with many predicting that half of all searches will be performed using voice search by 2020.
So what does this mean for your website’s ability to draw organic traffic from search? As consumers change how they search for information, products, and services, how are current websites built to handle these new user behaviors? Let’s break down some key strategies you should leverage to capitalize on emerging voice search trends and adapt your digital strategy moving forward:
No More “Page 1”
Marketers have spent about twenty years figuring out how to improve site rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Traditionally, website optimization focused on crafting compelling copy that would earn a user’s click, while also capitalizing on the appropriate keywords to match targeted search queries. Appearing anywhere on page one of the SERPs was considered a win because users had grown accustomed to at least glancing beyond the first search result listed. Voice search is changing that.
Users are no longer being presented ten different options to review before choosing the best answer to their query. In fact, they’re rarely even presented two options–more often than not, the first result they hear either satisfies their query, or they decide to change their initial search. This means being number two or three in the rankings isn’t good enough anymore. A lot of this has to do with the specific nature of voice search and the challenge it presents to sites optimized for typed searches.
Rethinking Your Content
Because voice search has made reaching many audiences significantly harder, you must be prepared to make changes to your content if you are targeting those audiences. Now more than ever, understanding exactly what users are searching for and how they are searching for it is vital to successfully drawing organic traffic to your website. Proper optimization must now consider the difference between a search that is typed and a search that is spoken.
To improve your site for voice search, your content should incorporate more natural language. When we’re speaking, we tend to use more words and longer sentences than we do when typing. Because of this, consider adding full sentences to your list of keywords. Instead of focusing on shorter keywords or phrases, optimize more pages to incorporate full-sentence searches being performed on smart devices.
Along these same lines, you should also be prepared to examine your content through the lens of spoken-word, question-based searches. Most typed searches consist of sentence fragments, but screenless searches generally occur in the form of questions, not one- or two-word requests. Your content needs to reflect this discrepancy. In addition to full sentences, be sure to include specific questions in your list of keywords moving forward. (hint: Need ideas for questions? Look in Google’s “People Also Ask” snippet table that appears for your targeted keywords)
The Power of Screenless Apps
The rapidly increasing adoption of voice search follows the rise of what’s known as the “screenless internet” and the development of “screenless apps.” You should expect to hear more about these trends in the near future, especially as more businesses focus on improving their digital experience for those using assistants and smart speakers. Screenless apps will be particularly beneficial for businesses with a physical location due to the fact that voice searches are significantly more likely to be local-based than text searches.
For now, the market is not crowded with screenless apps, and that presents a rare opportunity for businesses looking to get ahead of the game. If you think your organization’s digital marketing strategy might benefit from developing a screenless app, there’s a good chance you could beat your competitors to the punch. Speak to a digital agency now, because the continued growth of voice search presents new market growth opportunities for screenless apps moving forward.