These days, it’s rather mind-blowing how easy it has become to find applicable information about exactly what my curious head ponders. No matter where I go, I can launch a head-scratching voice missile at my smartphone, and within a few seconds, receive related links to soothe my itch. For example, I’m driving around the suburbs of my home city and I suddenly develop a jones for sushi. Not only can I score an ahi tower near me, but I can pinpoint the nearest ATM, all while magically speaking these desires to my phone. This is an example of the importance of Voice-Search and its impact on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the method search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo!) use to prioritize the ranks of webpages after search queries.
If you read the paragraph above, you might be saying to yourself, “What’s so profound about dictating desires to my phone?” You also may be thinking, "I’m sure SEO has something to do with making it all work, right?”
In the example provided, I wasn’t sitting at a computer or using a keyboard. My phone’s intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator crawled the web for me. You probably didn’t notice my casual language, outrageous southern accent, or my assistant’s use of my prior search history to deliver nearby and accurate results. This is a lesson in the evolution of SEO and the fact that mobile browsing has not only officially surpassed the desktop, but the use of voice-activated searches have increased substantially since their integration with mobile device search just a mere five years ago. Additionally, the younger the user, the more voice search is used.
So, just when SEO seemed predictable and all the optimization bugs have been worked out of the practice, consumer usage and smartphone functionality pulls the rug right out from underneath marketeers. Well…kind of, but not quite yet.
As mobile and voice browsing trend upward in popularity, businesses will need to shift their SEO strategies to reflect this rise by implementing better methods to rank higher when personal assistants rate search results based on locale and history. Most voice searches evolve around finding a product, person or service in your general vicinity. Talk about a tough fence to climb over if you’re the owner of Sushi Master in a neighboring burb, and you are constantly beat out in the rankings by Sushi ’N Waffles because it’s five miles closer to the searcher's device. Enter into this equation Google’s increasing inclination to side-step website links in favor of direct answer results (known as 'rich answers’) when a specific question is vocalized. This creates a veritable saki bomb for early content development and on-going SEO practices for the need to provide clear, rich answers as a top priority.
Now if only my phone’s auto-correct could be as perceptive.