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How will voice searches change your SEO?

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Voice searches have become a much bigger deal over the past few years. With Siri and Cortana, two of the technology world’s biggest players, is online marketing moving into a new era?

Keywords have always been about what an average person might type into their search bar. A general consumer may ask Google to find “electricians in Kent”, or “plumber in Manchester”; finding what you want online has always been quick and simple. However, now, with voice activated searches, customers have started to change the way they look for things online.

Talking to your phone changes your phrasing

We all know that people speak differently to how they type, and the same can be said for voice activated searches. With how customers are starting to look for things they want, this means that the marketing and SEO you do for your site is going to have to adapt as well. Instead of Googling “carpet shops Bromley”, customers might ask Siri “Where’s my nearest carpet shop?” Using Siri’s algorithms, your phone will know where you are, who “me” is and subsequently display all carpet shops in your area. Technology companies are adapting their digital assistants to pick out the “who”, “what, “where, “why” and “when”s on websites to find the best answers for their customers.

This doesn’t mean that current SEO will change; at least not immediately. But, with the Global Web Index estimating that “325.8 million people used voice control in the past month”, which is almost 10% of the online population according to Internet Stats, that’s a lot of optimisation still left to achieve.

How can I change my SEO to fit voice searches?

There’s more than one way to shape your site around both normal SEO and voice activation SEO. Though it may seem a little daunting, adapting your marketing style isn’t as painful as you might think. Google says that “20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches”, and that number is expected to rise as more and more people find speaking into their phone much easier than typing. But, how are you supposed to optimise a site to fit the new trend? Well, here are some ideas to help start the process;

Add pages for Frequently Asked Questions

An FAQ section will give a question and answer based system naturally, leading voice activated customers to your site. Rather than specifically using certain words, a set of frequently asked questions gives you an easy way to target certain areas of your business and your consumers an easy way to find you. With Siri, Cortana, Alexa and their other counterparts looking for answers to users' questions, it makes the most sense to have just that: an answer.

Test voice searches out for yourself

Ask questions related to the business you want to test. If their SEO’s working, and you’re getting page one results, then get your phone out and start speaking. Siri or Cortana may pick up on different meanings, affectations or locations based on each individual, but if you’re getting good results then you’ll be up there. If you’re not, look at the sites that are doing well and read through their content; what are they doing that you’re not? Whatever it is, try and implement it into your own website.

Add context to your writing

Locations, products, information; when a client asks Siri “where’s the nearest sandwich shop?”, the AI in their phone knows exactly where they are. Include locations, descriptions and anything else that could help narrow down a voice activated search. Current keywords include locations, but voice search SEO will definitely need to be narrowed down. Exact locations and exact positioning are key.

Listen to how real people talk

The simplest way to understand how to better implement voice-activated search optimisation on a site is simple: listen to real people. Of course, not all of the writing on your site is going to compliment this style, but certain parts of it, and certain phrasing, will definitely be useful to boost traffic from voice activated searches. Colloquialisms may be helpful, but if that’s not the way you want your site written then stay clear.

What does this mean for the future of SEO?

Honestly, things aren’t going to change too rapidly; ordinary optimisation and keywords won’t go obsolete any time soon. The importance of regular SEO is still very high and adopting voice activated search in your SEO and keywords should be a gradual process.

Don’t panic! Though more and more people will be using their phones to look for their nearest Chinese takeaway or window fitter, there’s still a very large percentage of internet users that type their questions into the search engine of their choice.

Siri, Cortana and Alexa might be the rising stars of the technology world, but they’re not taking over just yet.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s a fantastic video by Rand Fishkin explaining the differences between typed and voice searches and how we shouldn’t panic about how much more prevalent voice searching is becoming.