As the use of innovations like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa grow exponentially, optimizing for voice-based search has become increasingly crucial. The trend isn’t going away anytime soon; According to TechCrunch, voice-enabled smart speakers will exist in over half of U.S. households by next year. Because this form of artificial intelligence has already been shown to disrupt SEO conventions, voice search optimization should be on the radar of businesses and online marketers across the board.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search is a technology that allows users to make queries using verbal commands. Since the launch of voice search by Google in 2011, improvements in speech recognition technology have contributed to its ongoing boost in popularity (especially in the past year due to stay-at-home behaviors adapted throughout the pandemic). With Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft each offering their own voice-activated systems, this technology now assists us with more everyday tasks than we thought imaginable.
Running low on food for your dog? “Alexa, re-order Purina.”
Want to improve your posture while working from home? “Hey Siri, what are the best ergonomic office chairs?”
eMarketer estimates that about 44% of internet users in the U.S. used voice assistants in 2020. While smartphones and smart speakers are used to conduct the most voice searches, the technology is also rising in relation to cars, smart home appliances, watches, and more.
The Value of Optimizing for Voice Search
In addition to helping us access quick answers and manage our to-do lists, voice search is also transforming the future of ecommerce, with voice shopping expected to reach $40 billion in 2022.
Considering these statistics, not optimizing for voice search can result in a significant loss in organic traffic – and thus, revenue – while your potential customers instead discover competitors who have managed to stay ahead of this trend.
Three Impacts of Voice Search on SEO
As the use of voice-based technology rises, it continues to impact online search by making an indisputable effect on organic results. Here are just three (of the many) impacts that SEOs have seen from the increase in voice searches so far.
Conversational Language / Keyword length
Most users give commands to their virtual assistant as if they were speaking to a human; and typically, spoken language isn’t as concise as the phrases that we type. Rather than short phrases or ideas, voice searches tend to be full sentences or questions (think, “What are the best air fryers?” versus simply “air fryers”.) With this increase in the search volume of longer, more natural phrases, online marketers will need to adjust their keyword strategies.
Featured snippets, or “answer boxes”, are search results that are featured above Google’s organic results to quickly answer a query. If your content earns this type of rich result, it will also serve as Siri’s answer. This means instantly improved visibility and credibility for your brand.
While more than half of Google searches are already performed on a mobile device, the growing use of voice search makes having a mobile-friendly site even more imperative than before. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you can expect to lose out on traffic from the ever-growing amount of consumers utilizing voice search.
These aren’t the only effects that SEO is experiencing due to the rise of voice search technology – and as habits continue to shift as a result of the pandemic, it will only become more imperative to stay ahead of this trend. In short, by ensuring your website is properly optimized for voice search, your brand will be better positioned to earn its share in the $40 billion market.
Planning Your Voice Search Optimization Strategy in 2021
There’s no doubt that there’s a great deal to consider and manage when it comes to optimizing for voice search. However, with this and other new trends in the digital world comes new growth opportunities for your brand. At Direct Agents, our Enterprise SEO offering includes a comprehensive voice search optimization playbook that will amplify your content to render for voice search assistant responses.
Darcy Huff, SEO Specialist
For more advice and support on the impact of voice search and how it relates to your business, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.