Since the advent of SEO, practitioners have been looking for user interface (UI) designs that are able to bridge a crucial gap — reconciling what a person would naturally ask and what a search engine needs to provide effective results. But more and more today, the exponential growth of voice searches is establishing conversational language as the real UI.
The fact is, voice search isn’t just for early adopters or the under-40 crowd anymore. Over the past year alone, its usage has grown by leaps and bounds across all age demographics. Here are a few perspectives on what this means, and how voice search is already affecting strategic thinking for both SEO and PPC campaigns.
Targeting for longer queries with more specific intent.
When initiating a text-based search, most people still tend to enter a short phrase such as “small gas heater”. But when searching for the same item using voice, their more detailed voice queries tend to be a sentence or question, such as: “What’s the best gas space heater for an average size family room?”
So when it comes to keyword queries, broad-based targeting and phrase-match techniques will get you part of the way there. You also need to augment traditional SEO targeting with longer voice-oriented phrases to take better advantage of the movement toward natural language.
Many mobile searchers will never visit a webpage.
Especially for locally based searches, many mobile results now present a number of non-page options right in the SERP. For instance, this is what happens when you do a “near me” type search. As opposed to taking you to a website or webpage, you’re often presented with options like a Call Now button, a listing of local options, or a listing of user reviews.
For this reason, it’s crucial to also include target keyword phrases that directly address the needs and intent of local searchers. It’s also more important than ever to keep your business listings up-to-date with as much useable detail as possible. Especially those that relate to crowdsourced sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List and Home Advisor.
What’s good for humans will also be good for machines.
Quantum leaps in the sophistication and accuracy of natural language processing have reinvented the input paradigm. This has already paved the way for digital assistants like Google Now, Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon) and Cortana (Microsoft).
The ability to accept and process voice commands will continue to be integrated in countless next-generation devices, including intelligent machines connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). As a result, human-generated voices queries will be increasingly augmented by GPS-driven mobile devices and the growing confluence of data from IoT machines — a digital conversational platform that will continue to become more robust and incisive in its own right.