Does Alexa and voice search positively impact SEO?

Mar 4, 2020 | Anthony Frasca Alexa, how can voice search help my company grow?

“Alexa, how can voice search help my company grow?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”

Okay, Amazon’s voice assistant might not be well-versed in B2B marketing strategies just yet, but one thing’s for certain: voice search is here to stay.

But, as an almost entirely new technology, it’s difficult for businesses to make informed decisions about whether to focus on voice search from an SEO audit perspective. If you’ve found yourself wondering whether voice should be factored in your digital marketing strategy, this article is for you.

Ready to learn more?

“Alexa, let’s begin.”

The state of voice search in 2020

Before we dive into exactly how voice search impacts SEO (if at all), let’s first take a moment to review where we’re at with the technology.

The first mass-media voice assistant was arguably Apple’s Siri, which came to iPhones in late 2011, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the voice assistant market really opened up with Alexa and the Amazon Echo.

The biggest takeaway from this very brief walk down memory lane is that the entire voice search marketing space has had just a few years of development. With such a nascent technology, it comes as no surprise that many businesses – large and small – are wondering how best to leverage it.

The state of voice search in 2020

To better understand voice search adoption at a consumer level, here are some key insights for 2020:

What’s clear from these stats is that voice search is experiencing a period of growth and adoption.

That said, does voice search impact SEO?

Now that you’re more familiar with where voice search sits on the digital marketing stage, let’s tackle the big question: does voice search impact SEO?

The truth is that, at least for the time being, voice search remains a very utilitarian digital space.

What does this mean, exactly? Well, one way to understand it is to consider the types of searches carried out using voice.

If you have an Amazon Echo at home, you’ve probably tackled many deep and profound topics, such as:

Obviously, there’s a trend here: none of these searches are consumer-focused.

Voice Search Queries

What we’re seeing is that users tend to conduct binary searches. They’re on-off (e.g., playing a playlist), right or wrong (e.g., whether it’ll rain today or not).

The binary nature of the questions we ask most make it tricky to unpack the impact that voice search has on SEO for businesses.

Part of this is due to voice assistants being unable to offer us much in the way of context for consumers. If you want to make a purchasing decision, a one-sentence answer from Alexa won’t necessarily give you the confidence you need to open your wallet.

Only when we feel confident enough in the results voice search provides will we be able to ask Alexa to find our next pair of shoes or a new restaurant to try. At that point, we’re likely to see a huge transformation in the possibilities voice search presents at an SEO level – and it will become a truly viable digital marketing tool.

In a nutshell, because voice search is so new, it’s not advisable to solely focus on it with your SEO efforts. That said, you certainly shouldn’t exclude voice from your SEO efforts, but it should be just one (small-ish) piece in your overall strategy.

With that in mind, let’s look at some tactics you can deploy right now to start to edge into the voice search space with your SEO.

3 website tips for voice search marketing

Voice search may well be in its infancy, but that also presents an opportunity for businesses who are ready to implement it ASAP. Feel like being an early adopter? If so, there are several ways you can optimize your website content now which may result in you seeing traffic from voice search channels.

Here are our 3 favorite optimization quick-wins for voice search marketing in 2020:

  1. Use the “Q&A” format for your site content. One of the simplest ways to rank for voice searches is to speak the same language as the voice assistants – and that’s usually with binary questions and answers. There’s no need to reformat every page this way, but it’s definitely worth publishing a simple Q&A at the end of key pages addressing common questions about your industry and business. If you don’t already have a Frequently Asked Questions page on your website, this can be a great place to start. FAQs also give you a great opportunity to earn yourself one of Google’s near-mythical featured snippet.

  2. Optimize your content for featured snippets. There’s no denying that Google is all-powerful when it comes to SEO, and there’s one of its features which can lead to big wins with voice search: featured snippets. These are small blocks of on-page text which Google deems to be relevant as an answer to a question, and it presents them directly at the top of the search results. The catch? Google selects these using its own algorithms – you can’t do it yourself. So, if you want your content to be selected as a featured snippet, ideas like the Q&A format can be a great place to start.

  3. Rewrite your content with a more conversational tone. There’s quite a big difference when it comes to speaking to a user on your website and responding to a voice query. If you’ve ever dabbled in SEO, you’ll know the importance of keywords (both short and longtail) and how to weave them into on-page content – but how does this work for voice? The best answer to that is that you need to write your site content with a more conversational tone in mind. Short and sharp copy with a focus on clarity is the way to go here. That said, you need to balance this against web visitors, who will expect a slightly different tone. (We never said it would be easy 😉!)

If optimizing your website for voice search seems like a lot of work – and we’re going for full transparency here – it’s because it is.

Not only that, but with voice search currently lacking data and analytics, many of the tactics are unproven and the potential results are still question marks for many industries. That said, because of this uncertainty, if you really want to get ahead of the curve on voice search, there’s never been a better time than right now to get started.

If you think voice search marketing could help your business, but you just don’t have the time to dedicate to all the required changes, the Harvey team can help.

How Can Harvey Help?

“Alexa, tell me about Harvey”

It’s clear that voice search marketing is something of a murky field. The reality is that nobody can give you a definitive answer on whether it’s worth dedicating SEO resources to it – but the team at Harvey can certainly help.

We’ve taken the time to analyze voice search marketing from the inside-out, and understand the pros and cons better than most. It would be incorrect to suggest that voice search is relevant (and useful) for every business, and we know which industries and businesses can use it best.

With the Harvey team on your side, we can help you understand:

More importantly, we’ll also let you know if voice search simply isn’t a good fit for your business – or, at least, not yet.

In that case, don’t worry, because we have an extensive array of tools, techniques and strategies to make your business soar with traditional Search Engine Optimization, too.

If you’ve been worrying unnecessarily about voice search, SEO, and how your business can best take advantage of it – we’re here to help.

Contact the Harvey team today and let’s talk about how we can take your business to the next level with the power of cross-channel SEO.


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