Speech recognition technology isn’t exactly new: at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, IBM displayed a machine that understood a groundbreaking sixteen spoken words including “plus” and “minus.” These days, interacting with a device is far from stiff and utilitarian. Voice recognition applications are marketed as friendly, savvy personal assistants. Apple’s Siri, for example, can tell you the weekly weather forecast in sixteen different languages—and you won’t have to lift a finger.
Research by Google found that 41% of adults and 55% of teens are voice-searching on their smartphones more than once a day. Voice-activated searching is a novel way to use the internet, and it is changing the landscape of content marketing.
Keywords Are Important
Keywords are still important to SEO, but they’re undergoing big changes in tone and arrangement. The past year has seen an explosion of question words—what, where, why, etc.–in online searches. These are often linked to long-tail keywords (“Who invented the printing press?”) that contrast with the shorter, phrase-oriented keywords with which traditional internet users are more familiar (“printing press inventor”).
Voice recognition software hones internet searches to fit users’ natural speech patterns. This approach prioritizes straightforward, meaningful content that the device can quickly report back to its user, rather than a salad of keywords.
Voice recognition technology isn’t flawless, but it’s getting there. Google recently announced that its voice-activated search feature has 92% accuracy interpreting users’ speech and finding what they want. It’s easy for people to perform hyper-specific searches now that they don’t have to type out all of the right words or parse pages of results.
With features like Cortana or Siri, online searches are a conversation, not a quest. Users ask questions; they receive definite answers in return. The content of the answers they receive is authoritative and will likely guide any further decisions the user makes. It is crucial to generate content that predicts and responds to users’ needs rather than focusing on popular search queries. To this end, lifestyle research via social media, polls, and surveys can be very helpful.
Local SEO strategy is more important than ever; an overwhelming amount of voice searches are for local products and services. They include words like “find,” ”where,” and “near me.” Users narrow their searches even further by seeking, for example, “best pizza place near me.”
It is worth noting that Yelp is integrated with Siri, so a superlative voice-search on iOS yields results based on Yelp rankings. As such, local businesses should ensure that their Yelp listing is up to date. Content on local sites should be crafted to appeal to Google’s semantic searching. Google rewards purposeful content on well-structured, secure sites with high rankings, so the content is more likely to pop up as a response to a voice-activated search.
The Future Of Content Marketing
User-friendly voice recognition technology continues to prove its worth in the everyday lives of internet users. Now it takes just seconds to find a nearby burger joint when you’re in an unfamiliar area, or check tonight’s movie showings at your local theater. Voice-activated internet searching is a huge gamechanger for SEO. In this new era, the most successful content understands where the user is trying to go, and gets there before he/she arrives. The content conforms to natural speech habits and provides accessible answers to the questions people ask daily.
Users are searching with clear intent, and they want succinct results that meet their needs precisely. Voice recognition software continues to improve, striving to seamlessly turn your impulsive bagel craving into a map to the nearest cafe and a link to a menu. The vast majority of people who voice-search daily say they do it because “it’s the future.” The success of content marketing depends on its ability to adapt to this future.