4 Hot Voice Search Trends To Help Shape Your SEO Strategy

Voice search is here to stay. Mar­keters need to get ahead of the curve.

Brittney Sheffield By Brittney Sheffield from The Home Depot. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Voice search is every­where these days. It’s in our Super Bowl com­mer­cials. It’s on every major smart­phone plat­form. Forty-one per­cent of adults used voice search dai­ly as of 2014, accord­ing to a North­Star study. That per­cent­age was even greater among teens, the next gen­er­a­tion of searchers. Voice search and vir­tu­al assis­tant usage is expect­ed to grow – up to 50 per­cent of search may be dri­ven by voice in 2020, accord­ing to com­Score pro­jec­tions.

Prod­ucts with voice com­mand have been around for years; it’s nev­er been too dif­fi­cult to pro­gram some­thing to respond to a sin­gle word or a few sim­ple com­mands. Seman­tic voice search, how­ev­er, rep­re­sents a mas­sive shift in both user con­ve­nience and the ways search engines will have to deliv­er infor­ma­tion.

This expan­sion in voice means Google, Siri, Cor­tana, and Amazon’s Alexa must become more sophis­ti­cat­ed about under­stand­ing user intent. It also means mar­keters will have to get more inven­tive in the ways we frame con­tent to fit a voice search par­a­digm.

More­over, mar­keters should con­sis­tent­ly be as cus­tomer-ori­ent­ed as ever when it comes to SEO. Here are a few ways that you should con­sid­er adjust­ing your strat­e­gy based on these trends.

1. Write For Conversational Phrases, Not Just Keywords

Let’s face it, our brains struc­ture writ­ten search queries dif­fer­ent­ly than how we ver­bal­ly ask ques­tions. In order to cap­ture traf­fic for voice search you need to con­sid­er the way peo­ple may change their spo­ken search habits from the key­word-dri­ven way most peo­ple search.

Writ­ten search queries may be more suc­cinct, but ver­bal queries can be wordy and full of lan­guage that requires search engines to real­ly lever­age their seman­tic search lis­ten­ing tools.

Rather than “thai restau­rant in Mid­town,” a voice search may be clos­er to “What’s the name of that Thai place on Peachtree?”

What’s the name of that Thai place on Peachtree

In some cas­es it doesn’t seem like Google has fig­ured out seman­tic voice search­es yet – I’m in Atlanta, not NYC. A sim­pler non-seman­tic search pro­duces a map pack result first with more help­ful results.

Con­sid­er oth­er ways your cus­tomer may search for your ser­vices or prod­ucts. Brain­storm longer-tail key­word phras­es that high­light the root of a searcher’s intent.

Instead of think­ing about key search terms in one- or two-word phras­es, try to ask your­self, “Who, what, when, why and how?” to help you con­sid­er what else might inter­est some­one look­ing to learn more about your busi­ness. Then, be sure you’re includ­ing these phras­es in your con­tent strat­e­gy.

2. Long Tail Means Long(er) Form Content

If you want to own these long-tail phras­es, your con­tent needs to be sub­stan­tial enough to sup­port opti­miza­tion with­out stuff­ing every para­graph with key­word phras­es. Rather than just try­ing to cap­ture a phrase or top­ic, think deeply about the ques­tion or prob­lem your con­tent will solve for your cus­tomers.

Mar­keters and SEOs should be com­fort­able cre­at­ing this val­ue-rich con­tent. If you don’t cur­rent­ly have some­one on your team with strong expe­ri­ence in cus­tomer-focused con­tent cre­ation, it’s time you find a way to bring some­one on or part­ner with oth­er parts of your busi­ness to cre­ate strong con­tent togeth­er.

3. Think Local

When it comes to the “where” aspect of search queries, your strat­e­gy should delve deep­er than cre­at­ing a con­tact page for your busi­ness. Your earned SEO mar­ket­ing chan­nel should also loop in prop­er­ties like your indi­vid­ual loca­tion pages on your web­site, along with your pay-to-play social chan­nels like Yelp and oth­er con­trolled local list­ings.

These local prop­er­ties should be accu­rate and syn­chro­nized. Opti­mized local search pro­vides a frame­work for Google to con­sis­tent­ly serve up your results. This is a time inten­sive endeav­or, whether you’re a brick-and-mor­tar or a click-and-mor­tar busi­ness.

If you’re ser­vice based, your focus should be on opti­miz­ing Google My Busi­ness list­ings. Ser­vice-based com­pa­nies should also high­ly con­sid­er step­ping up their reviews and rat­ings strat­e­gy by encour­ag­ing their cus­tomers to leave reviews both on-site and through plat­forms like Yelp. Local direc­to­ries pro­vide anoth­er plat­form for use­ful, trust­wor­thy con­tent, with the added bonus of deliv­er­ing your Yelp star rat­ing that appears so fre­quent­ly in iOS spot­light search­es with rel­e­vant con­tent.

Yelp Review iOS

Note the “Reviews by Yelp” mes­sage for this iOS voice search result.

4. Prioritize Schema Markup

Google and iOS fre­quent­ly use schema data to deliv­er Knowl­edge Graph results. If you want to appear in some of those direct results, you need the prop­er markup on your site to give Google the oppor­tu­ni­ty to serve up this kind of con­tent from your com­pa­ny.

This can be an easy endeav­or with the right resources, but if those resources are lim­it­ed you need to high­ly con­sid­er which type of search (who, what, when, where, why, how) is most fruit­ful for you to opti­mize your schema strat­e­gy toward, and then cre­ate markup specif­i­cal­ly for those queries and result­ing land­ing pages first.

Pop­u­lat­ing meta­da­ta for your search results with reviews or use­ful con­tent may pro­vide some low-hang­ing fruit to test how search engines find voice-ready answers for search.

Schema data was cre­at­ed to improve the user-expe­ri­ence in SERPs. It only makes sense that search engines and oper­at­ing sys­tems would heav­i­ly rely on this type of extra infor­ma­tion while pars­ing through what peo­ple mean by the seman­tic lan­guage that voice search encour­ages.

Google is always lis­ten­ing and learn­ing from its users. Mar­keters must con­tin­ue to align with Google trends and the needs of our cus­tomers. With the pace of tech­no­log­i­cal change and cus­tomer adop­tion, we’ll need to hus­tle to stay ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion and con­tin­ue to deliv­er results that cus­tomers want and need.

How have you adjust­ed your mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy to reflect the changes with voice search trends?

Brittney Sheffield

Written by Brittney Sheffield

Associate Search Manager, The Home Depot

Brittney is an experienced digital marketer specializing in SEO, content and agile project management. She's currently an Associate Search Manager at The Home Depot and previously worked agency-side as a digital strategist, marketer and scrum master.

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