Think quick, do you use the same search terms for text searches as you do for voice searches? At first glance, most people will say yes, but they’re wrong. When typing a search term to find a service, you will probably type something like: roadside assistance Olympia. When you are talking into your phone or using a digital personal assistant on a desktop, you are more likely to use a full-sentence-style search, like “Who offers roadside assistance near me.” Personal assistant programs like Siri, S Voice, Google Now, Assistant.AI, and Cortana have made great advancements in language recognition. We can now ask for what we want and get results that match.
In October of 2014 Thrive Analytics published a report that showed a jump in personal assistant usage of 87% over the previous 12 months. This massive increase in voice search users will have an impact in the way people search. Internet marketing companies will need to adapt their focus from short, 2-word search terms to include more specific answers to the searchers’ questions.
With tiny buttons and people on the move, searching by voice is simply easier. The vast improvements that companies have invested in language recognition has finally made realistic voice search a reality. No more frustrated over-enunciating to get your smartphone to understand. When you’re driving and a notice an engine problem, you can now use the hands-free function and ask your phone “Where is the nearest mechanic?” rather than pulling over and typing “mechanic NE Portland.”
An interesting trend shows that the younger the searcher, the longer the search phrase. At present, 3-word phrases are the current average for voice searching (up one word from the current, and long-held, two-word text search). While this is not much of an adjustment yet, trends are showing that younger searchers use longer search phrases. Why? Those of us who have been around for the invention of voice search are more leery of its accuracy. Younger millennials are more trusting that they can say “Show me size 6 women’s shoes that are under $40” and get results that hit those specific points.
These types of changes to the way voice search users look for information will shape the future of on-page content marketing. Google has long been saying websites need to have natural language that is aimed at the reader, not the search engine crawlers. In fact, more and more algorithms have been coming out that penalize word-stuffed/keyword-heavy web pages. A natural progression will be to focus landing pages around a well-planned network of related information.
One Moz article on best SEO practices has this to say about content: “Google only cares about your content inasmuch as it answers the user’s search query. Search results are not a collection of “good” content; they are a ranked list of content that best satisfies what the user is looking for.“
What is quickly gaining importance as a ranking factor is how a web page matches the searcher’s intent.
Voice searches are more specific. If you were to search for “water testing” you will get a ton of article about what is involved in testing water, top news stories on recent water tests, as well as laboratories that provide water testing. So, if you are a plumber who wants to advertise your free water testing to help homeowners find the right water filtration system, the page should include information that answers questions like “How can I test the tap water in my home?” and “How do I know if I need a water filtration system?” If your page includes information that naturally answers these types of questions and makes it clear you offer free water testing while also selling filtration systems, it will be better positioned to rank for customers using voice searches.
Detailed information covers both questions of location and service type. The days of a simple two-word service+city equations for landing pages are becoming a thing of the past. The good news is that now companies can write more naturally and to the point about their products and services as well as their location and wind up raking without all the clumsy word-stuffing that was once a necessity.