Why Voice Search is Changing Keyword Research

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The number of people taking advantage of voice search — asking your phone or another device to find something, rather than typing it into a search engine — is on the rise.

According to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, as of 2016 20% of the queries on the Google app were voice searches. And while there isn’t any data available for 2017 just yet, this is certainly a trend that is on the rise.

The success of new products like Amazon Echo only demonstrates how comfortable people are becoming with this type of technology.

This is going to have a huge impact on the way companies market their products and service, because, simply put, we talk differently than we type. 

Voice search is going to have a huge impact on the digital landscape. Keep reading to find out what this means for how we identify and use keywords.

Out with the old and in with the new

Let’s back up a step here to make sure we know how keywords are currently used in SEO, so that we can better understand the impact voice search is expected to have on the way keywords will be used in the future.

Simply put, keywords are what allow users to find your content. The user will search for something and if your content is a match for that search, the search engine will put you at the top of the list or results.

There are two approaches to keywords: short tail keywords and long tail keywords.

Short tail keywords are search terms that consist of only one or two words, such as “birds” or “Florida birds.” They act as a catch all and will turn up lots of very unspecific results.

Long tail keywords contain more than one word and lend themselves to much more specific search results, like “birds native to Florida.” There isn’t an official cut off as to how many words are needed to be considered long tail keywords, but most people agree that anything with three or more words qualifies as a long tail keyword.

Keep in mind though that while keywords are what get people to your page, the content in what keeps them. A variety of quality text, images, and multimedia is as important as ever when it comes to keeping people engaged.

Be close to everyone

When using voice search, people are very likely to specify “near me” or “nearby.”

Keeping this in mind, one of your focuses with keywords should be to attract local business.

You can increase the likelihood of being discovered via voice search by increasing the number of Google My Business locations and by geotagging pictures with the location of your business.

This is where social media accounts can really come in handy — especially if you have other customers geotagging your business.

It is also important to make sure profiles like Yelp are filled out as completely as possible since this is one of the ways voice searches are being fulfilled.

Answer the questions being asked

When using voice search, people tend to ask questions like they would if they were talking to another person, as opposed to searching incomplete phrases or keywords alone. We tend to spare our fingers the effort of typing more than in absolutely necessary, but the same cannot be said of our tongue.

We tend to spare our fingers the effort of typing more than in absolutely necessary, but the same cannot be said of our tongue.

You are more likely to see “What type of birds are native to Florida?” than you are to see a voice search of “birds native to Florida.”

So what do people want to know? Well, basically everything.

Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Just like any good journalist, your job is now to make the answers to these questions quick and easy to find.

With this in mind, you’re going to want to incorporate your keywords into answers to these questions. Think about what products and services you offer to come up with your keywords. Then determine what questions might lead someone to you so that you can incorporate the keywords you came up with into answers.

Then determine what questions might lead someone to you so that you can incorporate the keywords you came up with into answers.

This new approach is going to make it more difficult to pinpoint the keywords users are interested in as the search consists of more than the barebones keyword itself, but it isn’t going to make keywords any less important.

Navigating the future of voice search and SEO

SEO has always been a moving target. Search engines like Google frequently change the algorithms they use to rank search results just to keep people from gaming the system. It’s no wonder voice search features have some people stumped.

Keep in mind also that desktop searches and non-voice mobile searches are never going to disappear completely. Nailing down the perfect keyword isn’t a science and with all these factors to take into account, it is becoming harder to hit that nail on the head.

But it is possible.

And the good news is that you don’t have to figure it out on your own. We’re here to help, so give us a shout and we’ll be happy to address any and all voice search, keywords, SEO, or other blog related concerns. 

Clayton Johnson is the CMO of The HOTH SEO company. He has over 8+ years experience in the SEO industry and has spoken at events like SEJ Summit. The HOTH has been featured in Inc 5000, Forbes, SMX, Pubcon, Content Marketing World, Affiliate Summit, Brighton and more.