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3 tips to help you prepare for the impact of voice search on SEO

As voice search assistants such as Siri, OK Google, Alexa and Cortana grow in usage, this new way of searching has already begun to impact SEO and will only continue to do so as more people adopt this hands-free way of finding information. We have been seeing for some time now an increase in question-based search terms and other indicators that people are using search differently. As we saw several years ago when the shift to mobile changed how people search and browse online; search is constantly evolving and therefore so is SEO.

voice search

Do we need to be worried about voice search and its impact on SEO?

That said, the impact that voice search has on your website and rankings will completely depend on your industry, so there is no need to panic as long as you continue to monitor your analytics data and search trends closely. Voice search is not necessarily a direct replacement for desktop search; there are still plenty of people using Google search with a keyboard, especially in B2B, so don’t change your entire strategy just to target a subsection of users. The best approach, as we recommend with most SEO factors, is to keep analysing and trying new things.  Data is your friend here- keep an eye on the search terms that are bringing people to your website, and the type of device they are using. If you make changes to your website then track the results of these changes closely so that you can then reassess and informed decisions about whether to make further tweaks accordingly. As we explained in our web evolution blog, websites need to be keep up to date and continually worked on to help them perform at their best.

So here are three tips to help you prepare for the growth in voice search:

  1. Focus on mobile

While many people are using voice search on specific assistant devices such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home, plenty of them are choosing to opt for hands-free search on a mobile too- 20% of mobile searches are voice-based, according to Google. If you haven’t already optimised your website for mobile then now is the time if you want to stay relevant in Google’s eyes. Websites that are  not compatible with mobile devices will not show in mobile search results , so check your website on Google’s dedicated mobile-friendly test and if it fails, resolving this should be your number one priority so that you don’t miss out on mobile traffic.

  1. Adjust for natural speech patterns

Most of us use Google and other search engines on a daily basis, and so we have learnt to ignore the rules of grammar and enter the keywords that we know will generate the results we are looking for, e.g. ‘weather London tomorrow’ rather than ‘what is the weather forecast for tomorrow in London’. Interestingly voice search has heralded a return to this question-based style, as we ask voice search assistants our queries in a more conversational style. To benefit from this, assess the target keywords that your website has been optimised for and consider whether there are any additional or different search terms that your target audience might use when they are carrying out voice searches. Voice assistants will provide an answer based on what they consider the most relevant search result, so you need to answer these questions clearly and comprehensively to have a chance at ranking for them.

  1. Target long tail keywords

As more people wise up to the importance of SEO it is becoming more important than ever to put time and effort into your SEO strategy if you want to rank higher than your competition, regardless of which industry you are in. A good way to optimise for voice search is to target long tail keywords, i.e. the more specific queries that searchers use when they know exactly what they are looking for. For example targeting queries such as ‘set of 6 solid oak dining chairs’ rather than ‘chairs’- while there will be a lot less people searching for such a specific term, they will be far more valuable to you as they are more likely to convert if you have a product that matches what they are looking for. This can help you stand out from your competition if they have not taken the time to optimise their sites for these more specific queries.

For more advice on how to prepare your website for voice search, contact our team of SEO experts.