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How Voice Search Will Impact SEO in 2018

You get home from work late, you don’t feel like cooking, and decide to order a pizza for delivery. How will you able to look at the menu, see what coupons are available, or know what number to call? Well, you Google it, of course! When your screen populates with the results from your search of “Domino's pizza in [zipcode]” you know that the information on your phone screen is valid and useable. You are able to order your pizza. Life is good. Thank you, Google.

The reason that Google is able to sort out exactly what you mean, whether your request is a direct one for pizza or a roundabout, poorly worded request for half forgotten song lyrics is due to search engine optimization (SEO).

When a search engine looks at a web page it is trying to figure out exactly what that page is all about. SEO is the manipulation of data to effectively TELL the search engine what the purpose of your page is. This is achieved by placing certain keywords into the right places on the right pages. The more relevant you are able to make Google think your page is to someone’s search, the more highly it is ranked in the search results.

Are you still with me? Good. Now let’s consider that 60% of all searches are conducted on a mobile phone. So let’s say you’re on the go. You’re driving, and you want that pizza there right when you get home. You’re starving. You use Google voice search to verbally ask your phone to call the Domino's that delivers to your home, and how much a large Hawaiian pizza is. The answer needs to be exact. After all, you won’t be looking at the search results.

You are essentially having a conversation with your phone, which is now acting as your personal assistant. No room for errors, and you won’t be perusing choices on a screen. Google will be doing all of that for you. So how will the dramatic rise in Google voice search affect the overall functionality of SEO content in the coming year? Here’s how:

LONG-TAIL KEYWORDS

When most people type in a search query they use just a few keywords to indicate what they are looking for. For example, if you wanted to know what time it is in London you might simply Google “time London”. When you speak the question, however, you take the time to draw out the entire phrase, hopefully. “What time is it in London?” is what your spoken query would end up being.

If you were curious as to what the latest and greatest smart phone features are you might type “new smartphone features”. As a spoken sentence, however, you would likely say “What are the newest features for smartphones?” No problem. It’s a totally organic way of speaking that comes naturally. As voice search continues to evolve, both context and conversational tone are going to become increasingly important.

RESULTS BASED ON RECENT SEARCHES

If you ask Google “What are the best places to stay in Yosemite National Park?” you will now be able to follow that up with questions such as “Show me pictures of it,” and “How long has it been a national park?” Using your previous search to provide context for what you are saying, your search results will all pertain to Yosemite, without you having to use the name in every single search query like you would if you were typing.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Expanding on the use of context and our Yosemite scenario, you inquire “How long does it take to get there?” Based on your current location, Google voice search will be able to understand that you want to know the travel time from your hometown, where you are sitting on the sofa eating pizza. Type searching the phrase “How long does it take to get there?” even after type searching several Yosemite-based searches yields absolutely no useful results.

Most of the projected answers involve space travel. I have no idea why. Google is grasping at straws as to what I might mean by “there”. Likewise, if I want to know what the fastest way to get there is, my context is still used to understand that I am traveling from my current location and stopping in Yosemite.

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Using these same context-based algorithms, voice search will be able to make educated searches based on what you currently have on your screen. Let’s say you are ogling pictures of Jason Momoa that were brought up via text search. First of all, no one blames you, Secondly, let’s say you want to know what movies he has been in. Voice search allows you to simply ask, “What movies has he been in?” or “How often does he workout?” Based on the fact that Mr. Momoa is currently gracing your screen, Google will use this clue to determine the meaning behind your subsequent questions. It’s brilliant.

71% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 regularly use voice search. Closely following up that demographic is 59% of the 30 to 43 population. The use of voice search is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. This is no surprise when you sit back and consider our fast paced, ever-evolving, someone-get-it-done-five-minutes-ago lifestyle (or consider it while you are racing to your next meeting, I don’t judge). With developments such as conversational shopping on the horizon, this area of development promises big, big things in the future.

Keyword Research Tip Sheet

Nick Rojas

Nick Rojas

Nick combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small/medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media. When he's not sharing his expertise, he can be found spending time at the beach with his dog Presto.