Why voice must dictate your SEO strategy now

Traditional SEO practices might not be good enough for you, especially if you've followed a keyword-based approach so far.
6 August 2018

Consumers are increasingly searching for producting using voice. Source: Shutterstock

Search engines help users find what they’re looking for, by crawling the world wide web and indexing websites and their content efficiently.

As consumers started using search engines more frequently, website owners paid more attention to how search engines worked and the algorithm they used to find and rank “relevant” websites for any given keyword.

Today, most strategists follow certain rules around website creation and management, and try to inculcate certain ‘good’ habits when setting up new pages, products, and content.

Together, the practice is known as search engine optimization (SEO), and companies seem to have finally learned what they need to in order to get the right kind of traffic via search engines.

Unfortunately, with digital assistants gaining popularity, companies need to get back to the drawing board to learn about how searches function.

Why voice search is such a big disruptor

When users talk to their phones or smart home devices, they talk to an artificial intelligence (AI) powered application such as Alexa, Bixby, or Cortana. The reason they are starting to prefer this over text searches is simple: It’s interactive, simple, and helpful.

However, businesses must remember that users query in natural language and don’t expect to sift through a few pages of results or ads before finding what’s most relevant to them.

Cindy, for example, might ask Siri to find her some accessories to go with her new red dress, and Steve might tell Bixby to look for a medium-sized blue shirt that can reach him before the end of the week.

Unfortunately, those searches won’t lead to businesses selling shirts who’ve set up the product to allow the customer to pick out the right size from a drop-down box, and color from a checkbox, all above the ‘add to cart’ button.

Why? Because voice search is simplified and is looking for product descriptions that are specific, clear, and offer exactly what the user wants.

For Steve to find the shirt you’re selling, your product description should’ve been “medium-sized, blue formal shirt, with long sleeves, a cut-away collar, and rounded cuffs”, so that it would hit some of the keywords used in the query.

This might not seem like a big deal at first, but it makes a huge difference, especially because companies now need to code their pages in a way that facilitates natural language searches. That’s the big takeaway.

what are your customers searching for on their digital assistants

Digital assistants are becoming popular everyday. Source: Shutterstock.

How can you optimize for voice searches?

To be honest, there’s no defined formula for what works best for virtual assistants and voice search, simply because there are too many platforms at play.

However, there’s one thing that’s common to all voice search assistants: They understand what their users are saying.

As a result, experts recommend that businesses start optimizing their pages for voice search by writing up content in a way that’s natural, clear, easy to understand, and as descriptive as possible.

If you struggle, put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and make those descriptions as clear and vivid as you possibly can. And if you can find time, add in some relevant “extras” so that users can find you if they don’t know what they’re looking for.

In Cindy’s case, for example, a white hairband, or a gold clutch purse would be great recommendations. And quite simple to add into the product description of a retailers website.

What if you’re not selling online?

Well, voice searches impact your business even if you’re not selling online.

Customers are just as likely to ask Siri to recommend a good Italian restaurant for dinner or find a good dentist near their office, and for this reason, marketers in all businesses need to pay attention.

In fact, this could be an opportunity for marketers to differentiate their brand, optimizing for voice search and delighting customers with the most accurate and exciting search results.