SEO changes. It’s one of the reasons why I chose this profession; I love to learn, and keeping up with the sometimes daily changes forces me to learn new skills and tactics constantly. While voice search and personal assistants aren’t exactly new, their increasing popularity is causing a scramble among businesses and SEO professionals to understand how users are engaging with the platforms and how to optimize our sites and content accordingly.

Siri, Cortana, Google Voice and Alexa are becoming less of novelties or gimmicks for their parent companies and more of what they were intended to be: personal assistants. Users are conversing with these apps, which is drastically different than how most interact with traditional search boxes. Voice search results in longer search terms, which follow the syntax of natural language. Users are asking questions and giving commands. For example, a session might look like this:

  • Where is the closest pizza place?
    • The closest pizza place is City Pizzeria. It is two miles from your location.
  • What are the reviews?
    • City Pizzeria has a Trip Advisor rating of 4.5.
  • Order a large pepperoni for delivery.
    • OK. Your order should arrive in 20 minutes.

Notice anything else different with this exchange? The personal assistant recognizes that the context of the search hasn’t changed. The assistant doesn’t ask where the user is located or for which restaurant she wants reviews. It keeps the conversation flowing by understanding the user’s intent and interacts with coordinating apps to perform the tasks needed.

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While this is a leap in improving user experience, this instantly complicates search engine optimization for businesses and websites. Tasks and tactics that were considered optional are now necessary; ensuring your business is listed on third-party apps and sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor and Kayak is crucial and only paying attention to Google’s guidelines is no longer guaranteeing success. Each digital personal assistant will interact with different third-party apps and use different search engines and web browsers, causing a shift in how businesses will need to prioritize their web presence.

Granted, it is too early to tell which digital personal assistant will reign supreme and possible dethrone Google from its SEO throne. But while we wait for more data on voice search to be explored and analyzed, there are steps you can take to ensure your business is prepared.

  •  Re-evaluate your branding: If your brand includes homophones or other language that can be easily mistaken for a different brand, product or item, it can result in an incorrect search, frustrating the user.
  • Increase your presence on multiple channels: As previously mentioned, you want to be sure that you have verified listings for your business on popular review sites and apps. The goal is to never interrupt the users’ flow. If the user has to stop and manually open a new app, this interrupts the flow and causes a poor user experience.
  • Stop ignoring local SEO: Due to the nature of digital personal assistants, optimizing for local search is more important than ever. Users want answers quickly and in relation to their location and situation.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of trying to keep up with voice search and other SEO changes? Talk to Gavin. We’ve helped amplify local SEO strategies in York, Lancaster, Baltimore, Philadelphia and beyond.