Search engine marketing has been undergoing changes over the past few years. A couple of factors that are fundamental to these changes are; the rise in number of people using mobile devices to search the Internet, and the ever increasing percentage of those queries that are initiated by voice.

Over the past few years voice search technologies have been on the rise. Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon have all entered the arena with some type of voice search product. The technology is far from perfect, but it is rapidly evolving, and in terms of SEO and search engine marketing, voice search is undeniably one of the biggest technological trends to pay attention to:

  • Google says, “20% of all android searches are coming from voice.”
  • Microsoft Cortana has over 100 million monthly users.
  • 19% of iPhone users make use of Siri daily.
  • ComScore predicts 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

How voice search is changing SEO

Search engines like Google have been investing heavily in advancing search. The push towards natural language search is bringing the search for information more in line with everyday conversation. With nearly 25% of all mobile searches being initiated with voice, and 60% of all searches happening on Mobile, there are opportunities for SEO and search engine marketers that shouldn’t be overlooked.

People search differently using voice search compared to if they were using a computer and a keyboard. Typically with a computer you start off by typing in a keyword(s) with a fairly broad intention like 'Drupal developer', or 'Drupal development agency'. You then see what comes back in the search results, and progressively narrow down through trial and error with longer, and more precise search terms.

Search engine technologies have developed advanced capabilities to understand longer, more specialized searches making natural language queries more common, and the search results more accurate.

People search differently with a keyboard compared to the way they search using voice.

Mobile becomes much more important
Voice and mobile are intrinsically interwoven together. Almost all voice queries are coming from a mobile device, and over half of search queries globally come from mobile.

For Google, they're shifting to mobile-first indexing, and for marketers having a "mobile-friendly" website is one of the most important prerequisites for ranking well on mobile.

A new breed of keyword
People don’t search the same way when they're using voice search as they would if typing their query into a search engine. This opens up a whole new area of keywords research. Your target audience will be using natural-sounding phrases and questions instead of the just a query or search term.

Conversational content
For SEOs, and marketing types, the trend to voice search means content strategies will need to be reevaluated. The first step towards this is understanding conversational speech in relationship to searching for information online. Searching with voice will look more like "How do I SEO my website for voice search?" instead of “voice search SEO”. The key will be to create content that speaks your customers’ language.

How to optimize for voice search

Google My Business
If you haven’t already, it's time to claim and optimize Google My Business (https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/add-claim-busine...) for your location(s). This is a great way for Google to find out more information about your business, like the category of business you’re in, your NAP (name, address & place), business hours and more.

Since many voice searches are local in nature, having your Google My Business listing claimed and up-to-date can help increase your chances of showing up when a voice search is done pertaining to your local business, location or business category.

Adjust keywords and content for natural language
Natural language aligns with searcher intent more closely just like with long tail terms are more specific than broad terms.

When someone types into a search, they are using language that is more like that of computer language - “vacation deals Paris,” for example. When they speak a search query, they are using their own more natural language: “How much does it cost to fly to Paris?”

The advantage of this is the degree of specificity.

Using your Keyword Research tools, identify additional search queries that could be used as part of your strategy. One fantastic tool for helping to uncover this more natural-sounding language is Answer the Public. Type in your keyword, select your country and it does the rest, generating a list of suggested questions.

Structured data markup
Structured data markup (schema.org) gives voice search devices even more information about your site and content because it defines more specific details about your content and makes it easier for search engines to accurately parse and understand the context of the website.

Optimize questions in your content using markup. This helps you ensure visitors are getting the information they want. Schema markup is the Holy Grail to obtaining ‘featured snippet’ visibility which is a fundamental component to ranking for voice search.

Frequently asked questions, or FAQ pages, are a great way to focus on those long-tail, and conversational keyword phrases. Try to group related questions on the same page. Use natural-sounding questions and phrases instead of the old SEO-keyword phrases you’re probably used to using. Create as many different pages as you need to ensure that the voice search technologies have a better chance of pulling information from your site. This can also increase your chances of appearing in a Google “Featured Snippet” when you combine it with structured markup.

There is no question that the future of SEO is bright and exciting. It will be critical to pay close attention as these new technologies evolve and become mainstream.