The era of voice search is upon us and it should warrant your attention. Search engine optimisation is moving away from keywords and towards something harder for marketers to quantify – conversational search queries.

Search Engine Land informs us that twenty percent of all mobile queries are voice searches, while a survey conducted by MindMeld concludes that 41.6% of people only started using voice search within the last 15 months.

If you are familiar with basic search engine optimisation, then you will know that algorithms are used by search engines to provide searchers with more relevant content. Hummingbird was the algorithm update that sought to better understand searchers that were more conversational in nature. It was released in 2013, about three years ago.

So, what is the significance of a three-year-old algorithm in something as rapidly evolving as search engine optimisation? The answer to that is new technology and software, specifically virtual assistants and Google’s latest core algorithm, Rankbrain. This is Google’s machine learning software that has been added to the Hummingbird algorithm to help interpret searches better. In essence, Google is partially processing search results with a form of artificial intelligence. The marriage of Hummingbird and Rankbrain is significant, as is the most recent surge in the virtual assistant market. These are stark signifiers of what is to come in the near future.

If you have not already considered tailoring your content marketing strategy for voice searches, it may be a good idea to give it some thought.

The question you may be asking yourself at this point is: how do I optimise my content for voice searches? Purna Viriji, writing for Moz, provides some interesting suggestions:

How to create content for voice search – my shortened version:

  1. The difference between voice and text searches, in terms of click through rate vs. query length, is marginal. The most successful text search queries are two words in length while the most successful voice searches are approximately three words in length.
  2. Try adapting your content so that it is voice friendly. If you recall my video, I searched for how many calories were in a McDonald’s burger rather than searching for “Calories McDonalds burger”.
  3. Make use of ‘question words’ to determine intent. The searcher intent in a search query asking for information pertaining to ‘Who’ is significantly different to the searcher intent of a query for ‘Where’, with the latter seeking directions to a point of purchase rather than information about a subject.

Use who, what, where, how, and when in your content marketing efforts for better search results.

Like with anything relatively new in digital marketing it is always best to try and test things before completely adopting them. Be mindful of taking an analytical approach to your inbound marketing and sift through some analytics before you outright decide to alter what may have been a sound strategy for your target audience in the first place.

This means, now more than ever, that your content creation will need to be intuitive and in sync with your target audience. You will need to know how they look for content, be where they expect to find you and provide them with information that they want, information that is communicated in a manner they sympathize with.