Mobile devices like the iPhone and the iPad are changing the way that people interact with the internet. For years, online searches have been a matter of typed queries and algorithmic searches for relevant matches, using key words and phrases to best filter results. The search filter protocols remain relatively unchanged when it comes to voice search applications. What has undergone a sea change, however, is the form of the initial search criteria. For SEO’s and webmasters, that means a change in the overall approach to the key words and phrases to be used in online content. With voice search, internet users are beginning to use more sophisticated, naturalistic, search criteria. In order for sites to be more visible to search filters, and to reach more users, it will be necessary to optimize those sites to better match these natural language searches.
Voice Search Applications
Typically, when typing any search into Google, users instinctively use one or two key words, or a short phrase, in their initial search request. Whether by training, conditioning, or simple common sense, internet users have become accustomed to providing concise pieces of information in their online searches. But with Google’s voice search application, users revert to more natural speech patterns when making an online request. So, while a search for automobile insurance might look like this in a traditional text search
- car insurance Chicago
it would likely look something like this in a voice initiated search
- Where can I find car insurance in Chicago, Illinois?
The good news here is that text searches and voice searches are both subject to the same search algorithms. Voice searches are merely translated to text by the application, and the search filters perform as normal. What this means for SEO’s and webmasters, however, is a shift in strategies. Voice search SEO strategies will need to anticipate the more sophisticated, casual, and question-based online queries.
The Growing Popularity of Voice Search
While voice search is available on home computers and laptops, its greatest popularity remains with the users of mobile devices. Apple’s Siri and Google’s Android apps are making voice searches more convenient, and the mobile nature of voice search lends itself to more local searches. While a student at home may be searching for reference material, a student on the go is more likely to use their voice search app to find a local restaurant, shop or entertainment venue. This places a renewed importance on localized SEO strategies and the platforms used for the results query, such as Yelp on Siri.
Now, more than ever, webmasters need to streamline their local SEO strategies. Voice search offers local businesses a fresh opportunity to improve their online visibility, and SEO’s need to look at their clients online profiles and make the necessary changes to keep them up to date and informative. Check all of the business’ online citations for accuracy and consistency. Regardless of how many platforms or directories your citations appear on, if there are any inconsistencies, or if information is out of date, now is the time to make alterations. If the business doesn’t have an active review capability, now is the time to build one into your citations. Potential customers, especially those using voice search on a mobile device, use reviews to make quick decisions. When a voice search returns four local Japanese restaurants, users will most likely choose the result with the most recent, and most positive, reviews.
Will Voice Search Supersede Text?
It is unlikely that voice search apps will supersede text searches for the home user, but will become the preferred search method for mobile devices. Having said that, SEO strategies to make sites more visible to voice initiated searches makes sense, particularly at the local level. As internet users, and internet filters, become more sophisticated there will be an inevitable shift to more natural, conversational, online queries. Search filters like Penguin and Panda are already designed to recognize variable and interchangeable phrases, and that trend towards sophistication is only going to advance. By keeping ahead of the curve, and by anticipating the advances in voice recognition and natural language search criteria, webmasters have a better shot at improving, and maintaining, their online visibility in the future.