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How Voice Search is Impacting SEO in 2021

By Erin Meyer

Person using their phone for voice search

With the increasing use of mobile devices for online search, the popularity of voice search has grown correspondingly. Additionally, the use of smart speaker technologies such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa is driving even more use of voice commands to make search queries. As this trend continues, it will be essential for digital marketers to pay attention to how they should be adapting their content and SEO efforts to compete in this emerging area.

Think Questions and Answers

While Google Voice, introduced in 2010, got users accustomed to interacting with their devices using voice commands, Google also began adapting their algorithms to more intuitively follow the human thought process, with the release of Hummingbird in 2013. Today this seems to have moved us toward a trend of searches looking less like requests for research data and more like asking specific questions.

There are many examples of how voice search questions are appealing to busy and impatient consumers who just want an answer to a question. For example, I frequently have problems with my refrigerator and continually seem to be on the lookout for some type of fix. (Apparently there are a lot of people experiencing the same problems, as is evidenced by the wide range of YouTube self help videos that are available, as well as the existence of a class action lawsuit involving my refrigerator.) When the problems first began, I searched for help using the brand name, model, as well as the name of the particular component I’d surmised was the source of the trouble, like “freezer compartment”. In the process of doing these searches, I began shifting my approach, to look less like researching data and more like asking a question – “how do I stop my ice maker from freezing up?”. This has been much more effective for quickly finding answers to my problems.

What does this mean for digital marketers? There are several things marketers can do to make the most of the opportunity to be found by people using voice search.

Use Long Tail Keywords

We start our optimization efforts with a list of keywords that focus on the basics, including brand names, product names, and services, maybe paired with desired attributes such as “affordable” or “long-lasting”. Voice search can inspire us to look beyond those words and put them into the context in which customers will be using them. For example, the parts seller I ended up finding to solve my freezer issue had created a video titled something like “How To Stop a XX Refrigerator Freezer from Icing Up”, which ultimately led me to the temperature sensor that I needed to purchase and install. In the text describing the video, the parts dealer used long tail words like “replacing refrigerator temperature sensor” and ‘refrigerator temperature sensor not working.”

Develop Q&A Pages

In working with our client’s, Upright has been concentrating increasing efforts on the development of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). This content can appear on a separate FAQ page, in a sidebar section, or as an expandable area within a page. If done right, this type of informative content can earn you the coveted featured snippet spot, which is a sort of “quick answer” item that appears above the organic search results. This kind of rich result is Google anticipates voice searchers will be seeking.

Use Schema Markup

A recent CMSWire article on voice search best practices explains the importance of schema markup to the HTML of a web page by improving “the way the page is displayed in the SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that show up underneath the page title. Schema can be used to markup everything from products, events, places, people, articles, organizations, and more.”

You can also enhance the value of your FAQ pages by making sure these pages have schema markup.

When Thinking Local Search, Think Voice Search

Voice search is increasingly being used to find things that are close by, in other words, for local search. This type of search is ideal for mobile devices, which are typically set up to know your precise location. In fact, Statista reports that 20% of all mobile queries are currently being done with voice search! In order to be found for local voice searches it is essential that you make sure your local listings, like Google My Business, are complete and optimized.

Need assistance with optimizing your digital presence? Contact us to discuss your goals.


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