George Orwell thought it would be Big Brother. Take a look at who’s in our living rooms and workplaces. It’s Alexa. Or maybe Siri. Or whatever you decided to nickname Google’s version. We’re installing digital assistants in the form of smart speakers everywhere, and we’re using them for more than setting a timer to boil ramen noodles or to settle a dinner party trivia question.

More than half of us (55%) will own a smart speaker by 2022 says OC&C Strategy Consultants. Forbes recently reported that half of all searches made by 2020 will be voice searches. Will your prospects find you if they aren’t using text-based search on a mobile device or computer? Think about how you approach SEO right now. Would your text-based strategy work as a question posed to Alexa?

No more screens

It might be difficult to believe right now. A quick glance at the people around you in a coffee shop or public area might lead you to believe we’re all glued to our smartphone screens. Looks can be deceiving. Gartner, an organization known for nailing predictions – calculates that at least 30% of all browsing sessions will happen without a screen by 2020.

We’ll use what Gartner calls “audio-centric technologies” for those searches, instead. In other words, Alexa, Siri and the Google assistant with no name. With nearly a third of all searches at stake, Gartner’s prognostication should make you as a marketer sit up and take notice. Will services like Siri and Alexa be able to parse your website’s content? Is it ready to be accessed by people who won’t have a screen in front of them? They won’t be typing in keywords.

The next round of optimization

Things change fast. Google is pushing us to go faster. Your business is rewarded with more search visibility when you adhere to Google’s mobile first index program. And for good reason. It’s all about the user experience. We use mobile devices more than desktops today.

But keep in mind the audio-centric technology usage statistics you just read. Even Google’s mobile first push won’t help your efforts to be seen if there’s no screen to make a display. Your SEO strategy has to start embracing voice search, pronto.

The good news is that it doesn’t mean reinventing the SEO wheel. It does mean that you’ll be drinking less keyword Kool Aid. Keywords just don’t work well with voice searches. No one ever demanded that we be nice to Alexa or Siri, but we generally speak kindly and in whole sentences when we invoke them for searches. We don’t bark, “Alexa, electrician.” We instead use complex, long-tail queries like, “Alexa, find an electrician near me who’s open 24/7.”

We might have typed ‘anti-inflammatory,’ on a browser screen but we’ll say, “Hey, Siri, how do I get rid of joint pain without pills?”

Do your meta descriptions measure up?

Consider your SEO keywords and think about the meta descriptions for your content. Are they in alignment with the way your prospects will search for you using a smart speaker? In plain English: Does your SEO feature succinct answers to conversational questions?

Creativity has always been the hallmark of successful marketing, and it always will be. But first you have to be found by a prospect before you can charm them. It’s a numbers game. It means that humorous headlines might be more effective if they were turned into plain-English descriptions of the content to follow. It also might mean converting your headers into conversations that get answered by the very first paragraph that follows.

Search action

Google’s research tells us that voice searches are 30 times more likely to be action queries. This may challenge you to do some SEO tweaking, but it should also give you a reason to get really excited. An action query communicates clear user intent. If you’re asking Alexa about an electrician, you’re likely not just doing research for a future project. You’re ready to make a purchase decision.

Voice search SEO strategy leading prospects to appropriate content is quite different than text-based searches. The latter should return content that seeks to educate a prospect about making a future purchase. Voice search should seek to return content that incents a prospect to act right now.

Google ranks content based on:

  • Dominant interpretation
  • Common interpretations
  • Minor interpretations

The dominant interpretation the action most users want to take when they say or type this query. Intent to buy likely also means we want product or service to be nearby. Google chooses rank placement by how accurate the local listing is in relation to the search (relevance), how popular the listing is in searches (prominence), and proximity (distance).

SEO for voice search is different from traditional SEO. You need both, and you need to make sure that each type is optimized to offer the appropriate content that should be delivered to correspond to user intent. SEO that prioritizes keywords and text-based searches might deliver for you today. Alexa, Siri, and Google’s girl with no name are about to change the playing field.

Find out how we can help you optimize SEO for voice search. Learn more about our Online Health Check-Up.