What would you type in your search bar if you were looking for cotton tops? “Cotton tops” right? But if you were using a handheld device you may just tell Siri or Alexa something like, “find me the best cotton tops in pastel colours.” Now put on your marketers’ cap and think about how search engines would process each of these. Branding companies in India or elsewhere will tell you they’ll process it differently. So how will voice search affect your SEO strategy?
As a marketer, you should make this distinction before you delve into your SEO for 2021. Remember that each search assistant algorithm may vary. For instance, they may simply transcribe whatever is said and flash a SERP or they may provide a vocal response or an action such as playing a particular song or playlist. The response is incumbent upon what the consumer wants and the algorithm of the bot besides its ability of the bot to process voice modulations, accents, and above all multiple languages. So the question is, will the same content work for a search bar and AI? Perhaps not.
No. At least not in the near or foreseeable future. Adobe showed in 2019 that less than 50% (48%) consumers use voice searches of which 85% used it on their smartphones. 52% of consumers used voice when looking for directions. Microsoft stats are slightly different – 72% searches on smartphones and 65% for directions – but they essentially support Adobe’s study. These statistics indicate that although the use of voice searches is escalating, it will be a while before it completely dominates the market – and even then the search bar may still be around.
Some obstacles in the path of voice search include the generation gap, privacy concerns, and the fact that voice searches are still evolving. So, you will need to optimize your content to address voice searches as well as bar searches.
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As discussed above, your content should be optimized for voice as well as search bars. Voice searches often zero in on one or two results based on specific user-defined criteria. They need snippets to provide a vocal response. Keeping these two facts in mind you may want to optimize some of your content for voice or search bar alone while using other content for both. Here are some factors that can help you decide.
Voice searches need specific input. The criteria for ranking the searches would be different if a user is looking for a list vs. when the user wants the bot to take an action. For instance, when you ask Siri to “order a burger” it would simply call the place you customarily use. However, if you ask for “burger joints near me” it would use local SEO and other standard ranking algorithm parameters depending of course upon your GPS location. Your SEO strategy would be different in each case. Now let’s say you ask Google for a motel with 5 stars on MYT. In this case, your smart assistant would respond with a single sentence saying something like, “I found 2 motels with 5 stars on MYT.” That’s the snippet you – or MYT – need to insert into your content for Alexa to read off.
The takeaway here is that when users use AI for their search, they usually have something specific in mind. This could broadly be a list of options, an action, or a search based on specific parameters. All these use cases can impact your SEO.
Your SEO would depend upon where Google and other search engines will pull the data from. For instance, to show – or tell – the traveller about food joints en route, Siri or Cortana may look at Google Maps first and then local SEO but if they are looking for a motel with a 5-star ranking on a specific site, they’ll look at that site and may or may not check the location of the consumer. You might therefore want to modify your SEO to rank on the likes of Yelp and Google Maps so that Google can get your information right there and show it to the consumer. The idea is, you need to figure out where Google will look for the information that the consumer wants and target your SEO for those sites.
Where Google or Bing look for information may depend upon the device the consumer is using. For instance, most Android smartphones use Google Local Pack so a user looking for the “best” in his search will probably click one of the top three results. Siri asks Yelp for help while Alexa asks Bing, Yext and Yelp. So targeting these three sites – Yelp, Yext and Bing – is important for voice SEO. You should also ensure that your NAP (Name Address Phone) listings on these sites contain all the important information and a little more besides so that your business ranks on mapsconnect.apple.com, business.google.com, and bingmapsportal.com.
Yes, you might want to use voice snippets when you think the user will expect the smart assistant to talk or text back. If you are looking at SERP ranking though, you wouldn’t need the snippets. Rather you might go with excerpts that are slightly longer. Other than that, the strategies you use to rank high on SERP will also apply to voice searches except that you would need well-structured content geared for ease of extraction. A lot would depend on your goal too. For instance, if you want to present a specific burger joint to a travelling consumer, a snippet hitched to your NAP data is necessary but if you are sharing information about, say, hair care hoping to link back to your e-commerce store you can do away with the snippet.
Voice searches are inherently Q&A. The consumer asks a question and Siri finds and reads the answer out. With that in mind, you might want to put your content in a form that makes it easy for search assistants to find the answers that consumers are looking for. One way to achieve this is to put headings in the form of questions followed by a short paragraph that conveys the essence of the answer. For example, if a user is wondering what a particular medicine, they’ll ask, “What is XXX used for” and not “What drugs does XXX contain.” So craft your strategy accordingly.
Voice searches are here to stay but the Google search box will not disappear anytime soon – and perhaps not ever. So tighten your seatbelts and gear up to drive your SEO for both voices, and typed searches. Litmus Branding, one of the top branding companies in India is always here to help.