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Google Voice Search: A New Challenge to SEO and Content Marketing

Posted on December 27, 2013 by
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Voice search is being a popular feature on mobile devices, especially Siri on iPhones. Since Google launched their ‘voice-activated search’ feature in November, it is possible to use voice search is possible on laptops and PCs too. As the search engine giant ushers in a crucial change in the way the users search for their queries with this development, we can strongly expect that Google voice search will have a great impact on SEO and content development and marketing. Let’s see how.

How Google Voice Search Works

If you are using Google Chrome, you would probably be aware of the ‘search by voice’ icon that appears at end of Google search field. The user has to click that icon to start asking the question. However, downloading ‘Google Voice Search Hotword’ chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store would allow hands-free voice search:

Chrome Web Store

Once the extension is downloaded, the user just has to say ‘Ok Google’ to activate the voice search. The question can be asked when the ‘Speak Now’ prompt appears and the search results will be shown on the next page (as shown as below) along with an audio commentary.

Olive Oil and Butter

Using voice search is quite easy compared to typing a number of words into the search field and it is expected that people will increasingly use it in future. The major implications of voice search are:

  • Search queries get longer and as a result more precise search results are obtained. Voice searches tend to use more natural language and hence they are less keyword driven. Natural search queries bring in less, but more precise results while keyword matching provides you with masses of data and results.
  • Voice search provide you with the opportunity to interact with the search engine in a conversational manner. You can ask one question and follow up with another one to dig out more detail. For example, you can search flight information with questions such as “is my flight on time?” and “when can I expect my packages to arrive?” and ask questions about reservations, purchases, plans using voice queries.
  • When Google gathers spoken search query data with voice search, it can better understand the natural language structure queries and the intent behind them. Each search and follow up action sends a signal to the search engine which makes it to understand the actual intent. As a result, the semantic search (understands searchers’ intent and the contextual meaning of terms they search for) will grow very quickly.

As the voice searches become prominent, users and search engines will rely less on keywords and more on natural language. Matt Cutts already says “It is definitely the case that if you have something coming in via voice, people are more likely to use natural language. They are less likely to use search operators and keywords and that sort of thing and that is a general trend that we see.” This poses new challenges for SEO and content marketing.

With typed search, you have to predict the keywords that people use to search for by analyzing the statistics on search term popularity and competition for ranking well in search engine result pages. This kind of search engine optimization strategy will not work for voice search. Online businesses should contemplate on what kind of questions the users might ask and how their sites can give them the best response these queries. They have to ensure their content fits a particular user’s context. For example, if the search query is ‘Which airlines fly to Hawaii from New York?’ your content should provide the flight timings, number of seats available and reservation details. If the users interact in a conversational manner with follow-up queries, then the content should be structured on these lines to get the best results.

Getting help from a professional SEO company that provides the service of experienced SEO team with up-to-date knowledge about the search engine developments can be the right option to gain better results with voice search.

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