What Will the Increased Prevalence of Voice Search Mean for SEO?

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Voice Search is becoming increasingly prevalent in our world of instant information. Google recently conducted a survey of teens and adults to better understand their voice search habits and discovered that people aren’t just using it: they’re using it in ways that may change how we think of SEO.

According to the Google, 55% of teens from ages 13-17 and 41% of adults over 18 use a voice search function at lease twice a day. Over half — 56% — of adults said that using voice search functions like those provided by Cortana, Siri and Google made them “feel tech savvy.” Right now, teens use voice search mostly to call someone or get help with homework, while adults use it mostly to get directions and dictate texts.

Now that people have gotten a taste of the convenience of voice search, it seems that the service will only increase in use. The survey revealed that 45% of teens wanted to be able to order pizza through a voice search, and 44% of adults wanted to be able to search for their car keys.

Though the latter may be a little further off, the former is already almost here. Google recently announced plans to release Google Voice Search to third-party app builders. By adding in a small string of code, developers will be able to integrate the “OK Google” command into their apps as well. For instance, a smartphone user would be able to hit the mic and say “OK Google, search for Chinese food on GrubHub,” to pull up the desired result in the GrubHub app.

So what does all of this mean for search engine optimization?

Voice-based search engines aren’t quite big enough to have a prominent influence on search strategies yet, but that’s set to change any day now, especially if Google and Apple keep refining their voice-recognition algorithms.

People who search verbally have different goals than the traditional search engine user. Many are using the service on the go, so they’ll be looking for quick information or nearby locations. This may mean that sites with question-and-answer formats that provide immediate advice will be rewarded.

Queries are often structured differently and keywords are less relevant. SEO specialists may soon have to adapt to requests that are more conversational, meaning that sites that focus on keywords may miss out. Voice search will also increase the relevance of semantic search context, first introduced by the Google Hummingbird update in 2013.

“I┬áthink that the voice command of smart phones is affecting searches in such a way that people are using longer tailed keywords. For those who type in their searches — either from a mobile device, laptop, or desktop — they’re using shorter phrases for searching. We believe that using these long-tailed keywords will ultimately end up increasing the way clients can be found through organic search,” explains Scot Trollan, CTO at On Top Visibility.

The bottom line? Voice search is gaining steam, and SEO teams need to be ready to adapt.

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