January 11, 2022

How Digital Voice Assistants Will Affect SEO

siri on iPhone

Why marketers need to be paying attention.

We all have them. They are always there. They are always listening. In our pockets, on our kitchen counter, in our offices or bedrooms. 

It’s nothing to be afraid of. 

No, I’m not talking about ghosts or germs, I’m talking about Digital Voice Assistants. Alexa, Cortana, Siri. These powerful tech tools were developed by companies like Amazon, Google and Apple and designed to make our lives easier. Need to update your grocery list? Want a reminder to move your son’s doctor’s appointment? Want to order that cute outfit you’ve been drooling online over. Need to make dinner reservations? Digital Voice Assistants make it easier. 

The use of this technology via our phones, digital assistants and computers allows us to organize a variety of activities in our houses is a rising trend that includes many other factors such as Artificial Intelligence and the access and security of our personal data.

Voice search and digital assistant use is set to skyrocket in the next few years. Here are a few statistics to help quantify the impact of voice search.

  • In 2021, data shows that 39.4% of US internet users operate a voice assistant at least once a month. (Source: eMarketer)
  • By 2023 the number of voice assistants will reach 8 billion units. (Source: Statista)
  • 71% of people who own a smart speaker use it at least once a day. (Source: Adobe)
  • 58% of consumers took advantage of voice search to find local business information. (Source: eMarketer)
  • 61% of individuals aged 25-64 plan to use their voice assistants more in the future. (Source: PwC)

What does this mean for marketers?

At a minimum, it means the keyword searches that some companies have spent years developing and tweaking, need to be reviewed and updated. Why? Because the way consumers type in a search and the way consumers speak are drastically different. Generally, typed search is fragmented and features a few keywords. For instance, “restaurants Rapid City SD.” When consumers use voice search, instead, they use more complete sentences and often ask questions, such as, “What are some good restaurants in Rapid City, South Dakota”.

It’s imperative that businesses and marketers adapt their search strategies. Here are some suggestions on where to start:

  • Review and reconsider. Write content with a more conversational structure to optimize for SEO.
  • Don’t forget question words used in queries – who, what, when, where and why.
  • Account for common voice interpretation errors, especially in your paid placement like Pay-per-click.
  • Mobile search has a huge impact and your touch points need to be mobile friendly. Since a majority of voice search comes from mobile devices, the transition from voice search to mobile site needs to be seamless.

Finally, for years the goal of any search campaign has been getting your business on the first page of results. Now, that’s not good enough. With voice search, consumers are often not going beyond the first result. In fact, if the first result doesn’t satisfy their query, they often redo their search completely.

Navigating the world of search continues to get more complex and challenging. Ignoring voice search is not an option. Those businesses that embrace the changes and adapt their strategies will find success. Those that don’t, will only fall further behind.

Which business do you want to be?

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

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