“Alexa: Order some toilet paper.”
No, this isn’t a husband texting his wife ‘Alexa’ and asking for some Charmin. Instead, it’s a precursor of how an estimated 50 percent of searches will be completed by the year 2020 — via voice. That’s a big statistic, especially when you consider that 30 percent of searches will be performed without a screen by 2020.
Let that sink in. In less than 2 years, Americans will be searching without typing, in a natural voice and without seeing the full results of their request. This one move has the potential to revolutionize/devastate SEO — depending on whether or not your business shows up first or second in search results. As of early 2018, there are already over 33 million voice-first devices such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home in the U.S., with the number growing astronomically every week.
Scared yet? Maybe you should be. Here’s how you can get ahead of the competition and stay relevant in a voice-activated world.
Personal digital assistants love to assist, and that means getting you targeted information as quickly as possible to answer your question. If your website is optimized to include snippets such as very specific answers to popular questions, there’s a better likelihood that you’ll grab a top search spot. Getting questions in the right format is simple: make the question an H2, and then concisely answer the question directly below the header. Don’t think that this one step will automatically net you top billings, because it won’t. However, if your site is already in the top 10, it can potentially rocket you straight to the top of the list.
More Than Keywords
Marketers are used to optimizing content by adding some targeted keywords, and while that is still relevant in voice search there are some additional considerations. Voice search is powered by artificial intelligence, and it literally gets smarter the more you use it. Responses are more contextual once you’ve been using a particular assistant for a bit, and users often find that they’re utilizing a more natural way of speaking in their searches instead of a string of keywords. We’ve been trained by Google to type only a few words into a search bar in order to get the best results. Instead of asking “Where’s the nearest place to get an oil change” on voice search, we may type “oil change near me” into a browser window or map app. Websites such as Question Samurai, StoryBase and Answer the Public provide great options for finding natural language questions that users are utilizing for search on your particular keywords.
Optimize Those Reviews
According to Search Engine Watch, 50 percent of mobile searches result in a customer visiting a store to make a purchase. These local searches are often performed on a mobile phone and can quickly lead users to your business if you accurately tag and structure your content. Consider adding local landmarks to your metadata, and the words “near me” in your meta description, title tags and anchor text. Having reviews associated with your brand provides you with immediate street cred for searchers. It pays to go out of your way to ask your customers to provide a review, and even offer them a bonus or discount for doing so.