Voice-Activated or Text Search: Don’t Be Led Blind by SEO Ranking

The voice assistant wars are heating up among Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod and their respective voice-activated personas, like Alexa and Siri. To date, already nearly half of Americans use voice assistants. With increased usage comes an increased need for effective marketing, and that begs the question: “How can conventional SEO translate to results on voice-activated devices?”

More than ever, marketers need to be flexible with conventional SEO and start thinking about how to market to those people who consistently use voice-activated devices.

Currently, the latter issue—how to market to people consistently using voice-activated search—is being all but ignored. Most marketing companies are still too focused on the need to be ranked in conventional search engine results pages (SERPs). While marketers may shift their focus from truncated search terms to long-tail keyword phrases, their focus is still not where it needs to be—on providing the end user with the quality information they really want.

Consumers don’t want “junk information” in their search results. They want to get the best information brought to their attention as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, what they are getting right now is a high quantity of search results, not necessarily the high quality results that they want. Marketers have been forced to approach SEO this way because algorithms favor quantity of information on a topic rather than quality of information on a topic. As a result, users are forced to perform multiple searches just to find what they are searching for. Searchers will face the same challenge with voice assistants unless companies like yours start to provide more quality results.

Entrepreneurs and consumers alike can begin to change the paradigm so that they deliver and get the quality search results they really want by implementing these three strategies:

De-emphasize the search engine results page

The goal of conventional SEO is SERP ranking, but first-page ranking is not delivering returns for the businesses achieving those positions anymore. The evolution of SERP features and visual enhancements, like Knowledge Cards, image-laden rich snippets, etc., are stealing the searcher’s attention, so they are not honing in on the list of organic results like they used to.

This evolution demands that startup businesses take a step back to reflect on what they provide (the end user experience) as a first-page result and what they get (their return on investment) for that ranking.

In an ideal world, users get what they want on the first search page, but that’s not likely the case anymore, and internet searchers know it.

So, startup companies need to:

  1. Question if getting a top SERP ranking is really worth their investment. If top ranking isn’t converting to more leads and sales, then maybe it’s time to reallocate your marketing funds.
  2. Deliver the user experience that makes your site or online asset a quality search result. No matter how far down the list or how many subsequent searches it took users to find you, you have to ensure that when they click, they are compelled enough to stay and take action.

As for consumers, focus more on quality and be aware that current search engine algorithms may not deliver the highest quality results on the first page. Even when stretched for time, don’t always pick the first link only to research. Navigate with care for a better outcome.

Decode what the analytics pages are really telling you

Ranking isn’t always the right or best indicator for business success. Think about it—if you have 1 million visitors to your site but no one engages with you or buys anything, then you haven’t created a good representation of your business, and your ranking isn’t helping you.

Better indicators of success are available in your analytics; you just have to decode them. Take a look at what the analytics are telling you about what people are actually doing on your site. That’s where you learn about the consumer’s journey and find the clues that will lead to a better customer experience and better ROI for your company. For example, if your highest entry page is the same as your highest exit page, you have a messaging problem; you’re not providing enough valuable content to keep your visitors engaged.

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Avoid creating content for content’s sake

Since algorithms currently reward quantity over quality, it’s tempting to simply generate more content to publish online. But, do that at your own peril. One of consumers’ biggest annoyances is content that’s not valuable.

Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to assess if you are providing valuable content or not. Often, all it takes is a pause to evaluate the value of the content you are publishing by asking, “With all the knowledge I have in this market, would I technically find this content useful?”

If you can say yes, then you can be confident that consumers will appreciate the information, too. If not, invest your time and resources to create a variety of smart content. It will lead to a much more positive user experience.

Remember, though, that the average person spends less than 1 minute on a site and looks at one page of content, so getting the right type of content on your site is important.

With SEO evolving into voice marketing, it will be imperative that consumers and business-owners alike think more strategically and identify the most efficient ways to get to the end result. Frankly, we cannot trust the algorithm to find quality results for us anymore.

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