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The Deal with Voice Search: RIP Keyboard

The days of keying in queries to Google may soon be coming to an end. Last December, MindMeld released the survey results of 1,800 adult smartphone users. They were asked two questions:

  • Have you ever used voice search?
  • When did you start using voice search?

The survey found that only 37% of the people questioned had not yet tried voice-assisted search. However 60% of the responses said they had begun using voice search within the past year; forty percent within just the past six months. Even more recently, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichaie, officially announced that 20% of the queries made on Google’s mobile app are executed using voice search. With numbers like that, it's pretty hard to deny that user preference is growing in favor of voice search.

And why wouldn't it be? With a market full of virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Voice and Alexa, it seems a natural transition. But as things continue to shift, it does prompt the question, how will this effect search results? And how should one optimize a website to best serve the needs of voice searchers?

Mark Up Your Content

For those who don’t know, schema markup is an additive, of sorts, to HTML. It is a markup-protocol which can be added to the HTML of a webpage in order to provide search engines a better understanding and context for its contents. 

How does this play into voice search? Schema helps to more accurately match queries to the most relevant content. Different schema markup exists for different kinds of content. Whether your content contains product reviews, recipes, events, videos and more, there is likely markup that can be utilized to help search engines gain a more thorough understanding of your webpage.

So, say you ask Google Voice, “What movies are playing nearby?” Search bots can crawl and extract content which has been marked up appropriately and display it right within search results. Users are served information on the movie titles, times and locations which are most relevant to them without even having to leave the results page.  

Become a Conversationalist

We’ve long advised against mindlessly stuffing your web content with exact-match keywords. Voice search has rendered this strategy even more useless. NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology continues to progress, and as it does, the meaning and intent behind the query made will matter more than a group of exact-match keywords. 

This means it's time to stop (once and for all!) forcing exact-match keywords to fit where they don’t belong. Work on developing a tone which is more conversational using natural phrases and sentence structure. Using adverbs like who, what, where and why, are common terms used at the beginning of voice search queries which can help to humanize the tone of your web content.

Predict and Answer Questions Asked by Your Target Audience

What do your target audience members want to know? Figure this out and answer these questions on your website, blog, business listings or social media. Voice searchers want answers, and they want them fast, so cut to the chase. Utilizing FAQ content is a great way to help search engines quickly find and deliver answers to the questions their users are asking about your business. 

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