If you make one tweak to your SEO plan today or file away one SEO idea to implement tomorrow, focus on optimization for voice search.

Right now, 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search every day. These percentages have grown consistently and they’re likely to keep their upward trend.

Siri has been a favorite voice search companion in the car for years and users increasingly rely on the assistant on their computers. Cortana came onto the scene to further provide voice search solutions for laptops and desktops, and Alexa is turning into a digital go-between that all businesses should take seriously.

Companies that hope to get their services and products noticed by buyers have to optimize for voice search today. There’s no getting around it. As consumers choose voice search over keyboard input to easily get their wants and needs met, the brands that adapt to the behavior change will be rewarded.

Your SEO May Take a Hit Due to Voice Search

As voice search shapes the future of SEO (and don’t doubt for a moment that it will), even businesses that are killing it at optimization will notice a few setbacks.

Making the transition from focusing keyboard-based search to voice search takes rethinking what we know has worked. We’ve had to switch it up before, though, notably in 2011 when the Panda update required websites to put out quality content (i.e. no keyword stuffing) or fall invisible in search.

Hummingbird also woke us up to the need for adaptation in SEO. The direct keywords we were used to researching and inserting carefully into our content no longer were that important. Google figured semantic search would best benefit users and it’s Rank Brain algorithm began to handle queries based on context instead of specific wording.

Optimizing for voice search is the next logical step. Voice search results will begin to give users answers in ways relative to how they’re asking, and they’ll provide them with more ease and value.

For companies that haven’t begun to optimize for voice search, and even for those that are transitioning, SEO efforts might provide negative results for a while so be cautioned that it’s a long game once again:

  • Drop in keyword ranking. We’re going to see long-tail keyword research and usage become more critical than ever. But, overall, focus on keywords will decline further in favor of topic-based optimization.
  • Reduced search behavior predictability. It’s fairly easy to predict what people are searching for when they type words in a search bar. With voice search, however, we need to anticipate conversation and think about what users would ask verbally. It might take a learning curve to pinpoint actual speech curiosity markers.
  • Decline in on-screen interaction. Perhaps mostly, we should be looking at voice search’s effect on search engine results pages. SERPs placement has long been the end-all-be-all for SEO marketers, but now users search without even looking at screens, so showing up on page 1 might not matter as much.

What’s Good About It?

The good, or really great, thing about voice search is the trend gives you the opportunity to provide content that lends to rich answers. This is the deep information Google and others are compiling for users, instead of separate and possibly irrelevant results based on keywords.

Rank Brain and similar emerging technologies will likely work to more perfectly ferret out a buyer’s core intentions by:

  • Correcting errors. As much as you might like play the game of trying to rank number one, users just want the best answer to their question. Voice search will become more intuitive and it will deliver information that’s more on-point. You can respond by putting out content that tells a comprehensive story about your brand and addresses specifically what buyers are searching for.
  • Getting to the heart of the conversation. Traditional SERPs may not be how you’re found in the future, but the new digital assistants may recommend you if you’ve prepared. Users want conversations with voice search tools to lead them to brick and mortar addresses, phone numbers and shopping carts. You can optimize to consistently be findable and preferable, even through voice search.
  • Delivering hyperlocal content. Since voice search is still mostly used while on the go, creating hyperlocal content will speak right to these users. If you’re the type of business that relies on foot traffic, you have scores of customers just waiting to find out about you.

Even though it’s inevitable that voice search will change the way you approach SEO, with a smart strategy you can come out on top.

Galileo Tech Media can help you integrate voice search optimization into a comprehensive SEO campaign. We offer managed SEO services for businesses in every industry.