Should Writers Care About Voice Search?
Do you feel like voice search is a fad, and people will eventually tire of their Alexas, Siris and Google Homes?
Admittedly, I’ll typically type a search query before saying it — even if Alexa and Siri are right there. Old habits die hard.
At the same time, I know this tide is quickly turning. Every day, more folks are turning to voice assistants to find the information they need. Heck, even my husband uses voice search (and he’s not an “early adopter” of technology.) :)
In fact, according to Google, 20% of mobile queries were via voice search — and that was in 2016. ComScore says voice search will make up 50% of queries by 2020.
So, what does voice search have to do with how you write content?
First, let’s talk about what’s not going to work.
If you (or your company) is writing content like it’s 2011, you are going to get left in the dust.
I’ve talked about how “SEO articles” and posts that exact match the keyphrase every single time are bad for SEO and bad for readers.
Let’s face it — people expect more now.
Plus, here’s a surprising thing that may not work as well for some voice searches.
And that “thing” is longer, in-depth content pieces.
You know, the long-form content that’s all the rage right now.
Why? Because when someone asks a question like, “How do I hard boil an egg?” she’s not looking for the history of eggs, the many uses of eggs, and how eggs are stored around the world.
She just wants to know how to boil an egg. :)
I’m not saying stay away from long content. But, I am wondering how Google is going to handle question-focused content in the future — especially after reading this post that implies longer content isn’t always better. In fact, short copy is totally OK.
What will work? Being human.
Gone are the days when we felt like SEO writing was robotic, stiff and dull.
If that’s how you feel about your writing, you’re doing it wrong (which is probably a wonderful thing to read.) Yes, you still need SEO writing skills, but you can finally take back your natural voice.
Content written in a conversational tone — especially content that answers frequently asked questions — will do well in mobile search (again, check out the article I referenced above for more information.)
That means delete the corporate-speak and “talk” to your customers on your site like you’d speak to them on the phone.
But, wait. Isn’t it too early to strategize for voice search?
Well, yes. And no.
Let me explain.
For all of the stats saying “voice search is growing,” there are others that discuss how frustrated users are with voice search. You’ve probably experienced this yourself if you try to ask Alexa a question she’s not prepared to answer. If you’re like me, you end up swearing at Alexa and typing your question into good old Google.
In many cases, the technology isn’t quite there for voice search.
In fact, a 2017 study by Seer Interactive found that just 8 percent of users searched the internet daily via voice search.
Their recommendation was to “watch and wait.” Which makes sense. I wouldn’t create an entire SEO content strategy around possible voice search implications. That wouldn’t have the desired ROI.
Yet, the opportunist in me think voice search is going to be huge. Siri will be less annoying and more our gateway to instant answers.
Why not get your mind right for when the time comes (as the Seer Interactive article suggests) and prepare for our new voice-enabled overlords?
What are some of the opportunities?
If you’re a freelancer, this is your time.
Think about it: how many companies have websites written in a conversational, friendly tone? How many companies have done a good job creating content that answers common long-tail questions?
(Yeah, not many.)
And, how many sites still show “old school” SEO writing where the main search term is exact-matched multiple times at the expense of synonyms and related words?
You can help those companies find their conversational brand voice AND optimize the copy. You could even develop a strategy for fixing their old, bad content.
How cool is that?
In-house writers have opportunities, too. Make a list of your customers’ common questions and ask Alexa/Siri/Google Home for their answer. You may not get an answer for some queries — yet. The important thing is to watch the trends and learn from the data.
(And, if you haven’t already, create blog posts or FAQ pages that answers those common questions. Writing these kind of pages is always a smart strategy.)
Knowing how to write for Google’s Answer Box is also key. This post by BrightLocal discusses how optimizing for voice search can also help you gain the coveted “position zero.” There’s nothing like being on the very top of the search results… :)
What do you think?
Is your company tackling voice search? Are you looking forward to writing content for our new voice search overlords? Share your thoughts in the comments!
I can’t really fathom why you wouldn’t care about voice search and optimize for it. What do you have to lose? And I suspect it’s only going to get better and better and thus end up being used by more and more people over time, so it’s better to get your site optimized for it sooner rather than later.