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How Will Virtual Assistants Affect SEO?

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana have completely transformed the way in which people seek out information. Instead of going to a search engine such as Google or Bing and typing their search query, users now speak into responsive devices either on mobile or from their living room couch. The technology of voice search won’t be leaving us anytime soon. A study from Northstar Research revealed that more than half of teenagers and adults use voice search every day.

While virtual assistants make obtaining information practically instantaneous, this new feature presents a challenge for effectively harnessing search engine optimization. How can you leverage voice search to keep ranking at the top of Google’s SERPs?

How to Answer Visitors’ Questions

Before figuring out how voice search devices will impact SEO, businesses must first understand how people use them. Information seekers pose questions entirely differently on voice search than how they would type in a search bar. Users also don’t ask virtual assistants the same types of questions as your typical search engine; in fact, very few voice searches relate to businesses. Instead, voice searches relate to everyday tasks such as scheduling appointments and asking for directions. People use conversational speech when they use voice search, often asking questions starting with phrases like “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “how.” Why? Because most searchers are looking for virtual assistants to provide basic information such as a specific business near them, store hours, and contact information.

Unfortunately, because the virtual assistant landscape limits your content to basic searches, businesses will have to shift their focus to ranking as high as possible for the types of questions your consumers are likely to ask. Luckily, you can increase your business’s chances of appearing through a virtual assistant, by creating and publishing an FAQ page on your website. Doing so will provide virtual assistants quick answers to each frequently asked question about your business.

How to Write Using Natural Voice

With virtual assistants on the rise, businesses have no choice but to deviate from traditional SEO copywriting in order for content to rank high with both Siri and Google. Traditional SEO searches used short queries to gain Google rank. However, now, websites must read in a natural, conversational tone that mimics casual human interaction. A natural voice will likely ask Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, “Where is the closest coffee shop?” as opposed to typing “Coffee Shop NYC.” With SEO in mind, you can identify sentences and phrases that people are likely to use searching for your business. It is important to include these phrases in your website’s content.

Understanding Consumer’s Needs

People using voice searches usually have more urgent needs in mind. Your website should offer quick answers and immediate solutions to the questions your customers will ask to ensure a high ranking. Google defines these searches as micro-moments, dividing them into 4 types of moments:

  • “I want to know” moments comprise 66% of smartphone users who use mobile to learn about something seen on TV or in a print ad.
  • “I want to go” moments relate to searches using the phrase “near me”. These have reportedly doubled within the past year.
  • “I want to do” moments relate to “how-to” tutorials on YouTube continue to grow by nearly 70% each year.
  • “I want to buy” moments comprise 82% of smartphone users who use mobile to shop in-store to compare prices and read reviews.

Why You Should Use Long-Tail Keywords

Due to the conversational manner of voice searches, marketers should focus on using long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords describe specific phrases with 3-5 keywords related to a product or service. You will usually have an easier time ranking for long-tailed keywords due to less competition. For instance, imagine you own a furniture boutique. You will have an easier time ranking for “Best Leather Couches for Apartments in NYC” than you would for “Best Couches.”

To optimize your keywords, businesses must determine what potential customers would search for verbally. Then, identify what information customers would look for. Once determined, embed those keywords in your website copy.

How to Get Listed on the Right Search Sites

Virtual assistants want to provide the best, most credible results as quickly as possible. They gather most of their information from third-party review/ranking/listing sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List. In order for virtual assistants to find your business in lightning speed, make sure you have a basic page on all list sites. In addition, encourage your customers to leave positive reviews on Google and Yelp. More prominent brands and individuals should also review their Wikipedia pages, which is where most assistants start when asked general questions.

Location, Location, Location

Approximately 80% of all mobile searches include location-based inquiries; thus, voice searches will likely follow suit. This means that using a location in your SEO is crucial, especially for a local business. Most voice searches end with “nearby” or “near me” and will display different results based on the searcher’s proximity to your business.

To be highly visible list your business location on Google, Apple, and Bing Maps. Make sure that your store hours and contact information are correct. Also, pay attention to the company description on your profile pages by strategizing what your customers will search for to find your business. You will also want to include a unique description before selecting the appropriate categories. Furthermore, your business reviews remain critical for ranking high on Google. Thus, you will want to obtain more credible reviews, so encourage customers to leave positive reviews and be sure to respond all reviews, even negative ones. Photos of your business are an important selling feature. It’s best to include five quality photos on your business pages to rank higher with virtual assistant searches.

Act Now & Accept Change

It’s no doubt that the rise of Siri, Alexa, and Cortana pose a new challenge to SEO and marketers. They also offer an additional opportunity to reach a target audience. In this digital age, voice search has only just begun. In fact, experts believe that voice search will make up half of all searches by 2020. Digital marketers are readily learning to adapt their efforts and embrace this breakthrough all to make your business “voice search friendly”. This may be the opportunity you need to get your company’s name heard.

Looking to increase your business’ rank for voice search queries? Prepare your website for voice search by contacting the digital experts at Premiere Creative today or giving us a call at (973) 346-8100!