Siri, Alexa, and What Voice Search Means for the Future of SEO

Since Siri’s integration with iPhones in 2011, voice searching has grown to become an easy way to use your phone to look things up without having to actually use your phone in a traditional sense. Now, if you’re like me, at least half of your Siri requests are things like “Where do babies come from?”, “What’s the meaning of life?”, and “Hey Siri, I see a little silhouetto of a man” in an attempt to soothe my boredom with a robot. Then Amazon came out with Alexa and suddenly I could ask questions and make requests without even having to turn my phone on. Okay, so yes, that makes me sound incredibly lazy, and our Director of Account Services would use this chance to make a joke about millennials in general being lazy. However, I’d argue that I’m just being efficient. With Alexa, for example, I can be laying on the couch and without moving, check if the weather outside is nice enough to go for a run, and then upon learning it’s about two degrees too warm for my liking, use Alexa to order Oreos with same-day delivery.

Now before you get too involved with how lazy I actually am, the reason I’m telling you about how I use Siri and Alexa is to highlight how the way we are searching for things online has drastically changed since ‘Google’ was added to the dictionary as a verb in 2006. Forbes even said that 2017 will be the “year of voice search”, and according to a Google study, 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search at least once a day.

So why does that matter? Because it means we have to adjust our SEO strategies to make sure we’re covered to serve all the voice searches. Voice searches aren’t the same as typed searches, they’re more conversational. Instead of opening Google and typing “Weather” or “DFW Weather”, I now just ask Siri or Alexa, “What is the weather today?” or “What is the temperature today?”. The future of search is conversational, so the future of SEO needs to adapt for this.

It’ll be important to shift SEO strategies to not only accommodate short-tail keywords, but also long-tail queries that are naturally found in conversations. One way to do this is to ensure you have a page with FAQs, and make sure you begin your questions with the adverbs that people typically search for when using voice search: When, How, Where, etc. For example, If you own a company called Fido’s Fashion and sell handmade dog collars, you should have content on your site that says, “Where can I buy Fido’s Fashion Dog Collars?” with a corresponding answer text of, “Fido’s Fashion Dog Collars are sold at XYZ dog store, ABC pet stores, and are also available for online ordering”. Make sure you’re optimizing your microdata so that search engine bots have what they need to answer voice searches. This is especially important for small and local businesses. Make sure your microdata is optimized for address, phone numbers, local directions, hours of operation, etc.

Most importantly, know your business and work to understand how your target audience interacts with it. Voice search is only going to grow, so its important that advertisers and businesses continue to optimize and adapt so they don’t get left behind.

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