Advances by Google’s voice recognition app, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana allow people to search online by speaking rather than typing. People can ask their computer – or more likely their smartphone – to find the hours of a nearby store, to play music of a favorite artist or a general music genre, or look up recipes for dinner.
Although voice recognition technology has existed for years, improvements in word recognition have increased adoption. Google reported word error rates of just 8% last April, down from 25 percent a few years prior, USA Today reported.
“You can talk to more and more of your tech gadgets today, whether it’s your phone or your watch or your car or your TV or … you get the point. For the Google app, that includes things like calling, texting, setting reminders, and for a lot of you, setting your alarm,” posts Steve Cheng, Google director of product management.
More than half of teens use voice search daily, according to Google. To them, it’s as natural as checking social media or taking selfies. Adults are feeling more comfortable with it: 41% talk to their phones every day and 56% say it makes them “feels tech savvy.”
The Impact on Google Search Results
Voice recognition has changed how Google transmits search results and has impacted SEO best practices for mobile.
Speed. People using voice search on a mobile phone want information fast and don’t want to click on links to find their answers. That means that websites and content creators that deliver answers users want faster than competitors are more likely to win attention and increase their website traffic.
Keywords. Although keywords are still important, incorporating keywords in natural language has become even more important. Rather than writing “content marketing trends,” a user might ask, “What are the 2016 top content marketing trends?” Content formatted to mimic the natural language questions that users ask will rise to the top of search results, experts predict.
The number of questions starting with who, what, where, why or how has exploded, according to Search Engine Watch. Brands that understand what questions consumers ask and how they structure those questions will gain an SEO advantage.
Questions starting with “where” are more common in retail sectors. For financial services, questions starting with what and how are more common than in retail. For example, “How much money do I need for retirement?” or “What is a Roth IRA?”
Voice and gestures. As technologies continue to advance, expect increasing interaction between content and voice and gestures. Marketers will need to create content that is activated with voice commands and hand movements.
Adapting to Voice Recognition
Citing the research, Jason Tabeling at Search Engine Watch offers this advice.
Understand what questions consumers ask questions about your brand. Do you have a complex product and do consumers want to understand how to better use it? Are they trying to find your location?
Consider the user experience that is tied to their questions. If a consumer seeks a location of your brand, is your paid search experience still driving them to a product-driven landing page vs. the store locator page? If a consumer wants to know how to use your product, do you send them to how-to videos?
Try different strategies. If you think about your marketing programs as driving value in just one way — for instance, only in branding or direct response — consider them in a different light. The best marketers deliver value to consumers, but that value is not always a sale.
Bottom Line: Voice recognition technology is changing how content marketing and SEO professionals present content. Brands that understand voice search and how consumers ask questions will be rise to the top of search results.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.