We are at the dawn of the voice search revolution. In the coming years, voice search is set to dominate text search; in fact, industry experts predict 50% of all searches will be voice searches in 2020. It’s pretty easy to understand why -- voice search is quicker than using a website or an app, it allows people to search on the go, and as an added bonus, it’s like talking to a friend (or so we’ve heard). 

While voice search is still fairly primitive, in the next 3 years, we will see an improvement in AI (Artificial Intelligence) voice assistant ability to respond to complex questions. Voice assistants will begin to curate responses to user questions based on learned habits (location, a person’s daily routine, purchase history, etc.). In 3-5 years, voice assistants will anticipate a person’s needs and wants and suggest solutions proactively. Beyond that, voice assistants will not only anticipate users’ needs and wants, they will actually consider their affinities and habits and complete simple purchases on their behalf. In fact, voice assistants will be able to make reoccurring or simple purchase decisions without the user’s explicit consent. 

As text search becomes less popular, it’s imperative for businesses to adjust their SEO strategies for voice search. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when conducting voice keyword research and planning.  

Think about how we SPEAK questions vs. typing them. We unconsciously change our behavior when using voice search. For example, when searching for a dry cleaner on your computer or phone, you might type in "Best dry cleaner in Denver." But when you use voice search, you change your behavior and ask a question, like "What dry cleaner closest to my house in Denver has the best reviews and lowest prices?”

Focus on long-tail, conversational phrases. The main difference between voice and text search is users employ more natural, conversational language when conducting a voice search. Short-tail keywords (like “Best dry cleaner in Denver”) have already diminished in importance and conversational search is bound to decrease their prominence even further. When using voice search, people ask more direct queries to get more relevant answers. This is where long-tail keywords (closest to my house, best reviews, lowest prices) in your content come in handy and increase the chances of your content ranking in voice search engine result pages.

Begin with question modifiers. We are generally asking Siri, Alexa, Google, etc. for answers to questions in our voice searches, so it’s important to use modifiers like who, what, when, how, where, etc. (“Siri, How can I install insulation on my own at home?)

Consider the questions your audience is likely to ask. When conducting social listening – which is important for any company or brand wanting to dive into voice search and leverage AI – research the exact words and phrases your audience uses to describe your products or services and pay attention to the specific questions they are asking. When thinking about your voice keyword search, try to offer quick answers and immediate solutions to those questions.

Check if there are gaps. Compare text searches to voice search queries to see if there is a gap between them and to help you better understand what exact keywords to target for SEO.

Interested in integrating digital media into your overall communications strategy? Contact me at mking@linhartpr.com.