2018 is seeing many changes take place in the world of technology, and none more so than AI & voice-activated search queries. In the few years since voice queries first popped up on smartphones, they have gone great guns and now they are everywhere.

One thing is for sure, they are going to impact greatly upon SEO services, with most users between the ages of 18 – 43 opting to use this function.

But why are voice searches becoming so popular?
The great thing is that voice searches are totally hands-free and extremely practical; why bother to type when you can search in this very natural way and get direct answers? And if you are driving, safety is enhanced by using your voice only; not only can you find the nearest petrol station easily but you can even phone it using voice commands. With so many people loving voice-searches, SEO is going to have to change in a big way. Let’s take a look at what is likely to happen and what businesses can do to be prepared.

Siri and Alexa lead the way
Voice-activated Virtual Assistants such as Siri and Alexa are aiding these changes in a big way as they have made it very easy for everyone to source information. At the same time, search engines have had to adapt to keep up with this new technology and have become far more flexible and sophisticated.

Google have introduced something called ‘semantic context’ which means that each word of the audible search term has to be related to. At the same time, how each word relates to the next also has to be dealt with so that the exact meaning is understood accurately.

With 50% of the population of countries like India already using Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) in a big way, America is not far behind at 46% and the UK is sure to follow. It is therefore a foregone conclusion that services provide by web companies such as search advertising, the use of keywords and content marketing are going to have to change to keep up with consumer demand.

How SEO needs to change
So what are the main characteristics of SEO that need to be taken into account by those providing SEO services and what do you need to do to up-date your content marketing?

The biggie is that online marketing strategies will need to be far more intuitive and natural, taking heed of the nuances of normal speech patterns. With the majority of voice searches consisting of a question, search engines will need to correctly understand what the speaker is looking for so that the answer given is specific and accurate.

Local businesses will also need to take heed when it comes to tailoring their SEO to suit. With more than 50% of people searching for local companies on their smartphones every day, strategies will have to be refined. Keywords used should be long-tailed and short. Opening a Google My Business account will also be very worthwhile as not only is it free but it can provide much needed exposure, particularly as research shows that 20% of searches made locally result in a sale.

How else can businesses improve traffic to their website and ensure that they feature in voice searches?
By 2020, Google forecast that half of all queries carried out will be activated by voice so content should be created to answer questions posed by users. Tools such as https://www.webpagefx.com/seo-tools/faqfox/ will come in really useful as all you have to do is enter your chosen keyword and it will provide a list of questions related to that topic being asked online by your potential customers. You then simply use these questions when getting your content copy written. These search queries should then be used not only on your landing page but also in any online ads.

IPAs like Siri have also come a long way since the early days when they struggled to interpret and translate user questions accurately. Google Translate now provides an accuracy rate of 90% so there is far less room for error.

Get mobile friendly

And what about the fact that mobile usage has now way overtaken laptops by more than 50%? This is definitely fuelling the increased use of voices searches. You will be missing out big time if you do not get your website optimised to take account of mobile users. Whether you are upgrading your website or getting your web designer to build a site from scratch, rather than having a separate mobile site, it makes so much sense to make your website responsive; this means that whether viewers use a mobile or laptop, your site will look the same and they will not become frustrated with wrongly sized screens, text disappearing over the edges or slow response rates. And don’t make the mistake of trying to use images that are far too large; this will dramatically increase load time and may even result in viewers leaving your site to go elsewhere! A good search engine optimisation expert will also ensure that your website app is not overly sensitive to finger movement as it can be incredibly frustrating for mobile users when they tap and get the wrong response repeatedly when not using voice commands.

SEO services will become more sophisticated
At the same time, companies involved in SEO services will be making sure that proper metadata is inserted within your site, that quality links are used and the whole process will become far more sophisticated. There is no doubt at all that SEO processes and techniques are going to have to change in line with the demands made by this more sophisticated way of searching. Getting inside the mind of your website users is essential if you are going to have the right search engine terms and keywords appearing in your online content. No business can afford to miss out on traffic coming to their site via searches made via voice so make sure that yours is totally mobile friendly and that you have a clear sitemap in place to guide viewers in the right direction once they arrive.

Voice-activated searches are going to change the way that you market your business online dramatically. By taking heed of the adjustments that need to be made now and getting ahead of your competitors, your potential new customers will continue to head in your direction, even if they do it via Siri or Alexa! Voice searches are here to stay and are going to get even bigger.