There’s lots of talk out there about voice search and how it’s going to change the face of SEO, which may well be the case, but for now, voice-based search is still a relatively new thing. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know that they can use new voice search technology to search online instead of typing, which is so 2013.
That doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be taken seriously though, if you dismiss voice search as a mere fad, then you might just find yourself being left behind and struggling to keep up with this ever-changing world of search marketing.
It’s Growing… and Fast!
There are some signs that the voice search trend is beginning to gain real momentum. Stats indicate that about 55% of teenagers are using this search alternative. A growing number of adults (now an impressive 40%) utilize this new way of entering search queries, as well. Of course these stats always need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as the people asked in the polls may be more tech savvy than the average internet user.
Why Do People Use It?
Let’s face it, as a society, we have gotten lazier and more impatient than ever. Why take 10 seconds to type something into your phone when you can just say it in 3?
Another reason that voice search is becoming more popular is that a lot of users would rather speak out a search query to avoid spelling mistakes. Voice recognition technology has improved significantly over the years, which definitely helps. The penetration and huge adoption of the mobile device technologies have also made people more open to using voice, as opposed to typing.
The search engines have been, and still are, working towards improving their search algorithms to accommodate this new search method. The major impact voice search will have on SEO is the move further away from keywords towards a more conversational type of search. This means that if you want your website to rank well it will have to provide relevant answers and solutions to user queries rather than simply provide relevance to a particular keyword.
If you’re an SEO, none of this should be news to you, however, so in that respect voice search shouldn’t impact that much on SEO.
What’s Good About It?
The move away from keyword-based search algorithms can only be a good thing for the SEO industry, as it will make stuffing keywords into webpages to manipulate the search bots an even more obsolete practice than it already is. Voice search will make specific keywords less relevant, while also allowing users to be more specific in their search for answers. This should allow for better search results that are more relevant – and everyone’s got to love that, right?
Businesses and website owners will need to think and research more on what kind of questions prospective customers are asking when looking for their products and services online. Understanding more about the information users are searching for will help businesses to provide better answers and resources for them.
Although the future of this new trend may not be certain, one thing is – businesses will need to provide more value in their content, in order to remain relevant now and in the future. Voice technology may continue to evolve over the next few years, but the need for quick answers, thorough information and good guidance will always remain relevant.
Therefore, for all search engine experts, website owners and business owners, the need to focus on creating quality content, providing value to your website visitors and offering solutions to those who are searching for them will remain a priority. This will help you remain relevant from the search engines’ viewpoint, regardless of any changes in technology.
What’s Not So Good About It?
So far, the rise of voice searches is sounding pretty good for the world of SEO. But it may not all be sunshine, as there are also some possible negative impacts that it could have on SEO practitioners.
The biggest problem that SEOs may encounter with voice search is that it may limit the need for actual websites to be shown in the search results, with search engines instead striving to answer the query themselves. This can already be seen with some search queries and Google Maps searches and the obvious consequence will be that websites will be getting less traffic through search queries.
While this would be a clear setback for SEOs, there will always be a need for actual websites in the search results and SEO will always be important for businesses of all sizes. Every perceived problem can provide us with the opportunity to be creative and find ways to make our websites so awesome that Google simply can’t afford to ignore them, which at the end of the day is what SEOs love to do.
Voice search isn’t likely to be going away anytime, so I say let’s embrace it and see how the industry uses it to add even more diversity to the art of digital marketing.
Guest post by
Stuart Cooke is the Director of Levity Digital, an SEO agency based in the UK helping businesses to create content that their audience wants to see. You can follow him on Twitter.