By now, most people who spend a lot of time online are aware of the practice of search engine optimization. Basically, search engine optimization or SEO is the practice of including certain words and phrases in web content to make it more likely to show up on search engines. It’s not an exact science since Google and other search engines are constantly changing their search algorithms, but it’s become essential to successful marketing on the Internet.
The nature of search engine optimization is almost constantly changing, and it was predicted in the 2009 book “The Art of SEO” that voice recognition searches would play a major role in SEO in the future. Voice recognition has never been as reliable as text-based searches, but it has improved significantly over the last few months. Conversational search capability is making desktop search easier to use, nutritional information is readily available via mobile voice search apps, and Google Now can provide quick answers to questions asked on the fly.
Google is obviously trying hard to make voice searches work, and other companies such as Yahoo, Bing and Yandex are implementing regularly updated voice recognition software into their search engines. Naturally, SEO professionals are wondering how voice recognition searches differ from text-based searches and how they will affect SEO in general.
Voice Vs. Text
For those who are wondering, voice recognition searches are very different from text searches. When someone searches for something with a text-based search engine, they enter a series of keywords, terms and phrases that usually don’t fit together as a full sentence. This usually doesn’t present a problem for search engines because they are programmed to recognize keywords and phrases regardless of syntax. On the other hand, voice recognition search doesn’t work this way. People tend to speak in a conversational tone when they use voice recognition search engines, something that would yield fewer and less accurate results in a text-based search.
Searching for Local Stores
Now that we’ve established how voice recognition searches are different from text-based searches, let’s talk about how that affects searching for local businesses. Programs such as Siri and Google Now can tell you about what kinds of businesses are nearby when you ask them where you are. The local businesses that are displayed in these searches are those that are the most popular and relevant. This means that keeping a local business’s website updated is more important than ever. Local businesses will be in more direct competition with each other since word of mouth advertising literally turns into search engine hits.
Voice Search and Global Enterprises
Global enterprises that may not have local stores should also keep voice searching in mind when they consider their SEO strategies. Voice searching may not affect these businesses in the same way it affects local businesses, but people are still using voice searching to find them. One way companies can use this relatively new technology is by adopting a Q&A or FAQ content strategy. People tend to use complete sentences when they use voice search programs; they even go as far as to ask specific questions. Companies can take advantage of this by providing search engine hits that answer frequently asked questions. Not only will this increase traffic to company websites, but it will also improve a company’s reputation by providing better customer service.
The goal of search engines has always to provide users with their original search intent. When users enter some vaguely connected keywords into Google, this was relatively easy. Now that voice recognition software has come into play in a big way, companies have to change their SEO strategies if they want to stay ahead of their competition. This sounds like a daunting task, but it could also provide companies the opportunity to provide better search results and even better customer service. In short, voice searches should never be ignored.
By Noah Lopata