Digital Assistants and the Rise of Voice Search

Posted: in Pulse on the Industry , SEO and Content Marketing

There’s no doubt that digital assistants have arrived and are here to stay. Voice searches are increasing in volume at a tremendous rate because let’s face it, it’s faster and easier than typing.

Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable using voice-enabled speakers (like Google Home and Amazon Echo) and voice-enabled digital assistants (like Alexa and Siri). Voice is quickly becoming the go-to search method.

  • 41% of adults conduct at least one voice search per day.
  • 58% of consumers used voice search to find local business information within the last year.
  • 46% of voice search users look for a local business daily.
  • 27% visit the website of a local business after conducting a voice search.
  • 76% of smart home speaker users conduct local searches at least once a week – with 53% performing daily searches.
  • 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

What is a digital assistant?


Answering questions about the weather, directions, facts, and shopping lists were the initial features provided by digital assistants. However, the real power recently realized by digital assistants is their ability to take action at your request and anticipate your needs.

ORM and VSO are the new SEO

Google changes the way we search and as a result, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is reinvented constantly. Services like Online Reputation Management (ORM) and Voice Search Optimization (VSO) are now necessary. For most businesses, SEO by itself is not enough anymore. Content is still most important, however now, User Generated Content (UGC) like online reviews have a significant effect on search ranking and relevance. It is important to earn and maintain a positive online reputation.

At HLM, we employ Online Reputation Management (ORM) and Voice Search Optimization (VSO) techniques and spend time tailoring our client’s sites so that they appear prominently for common search terms. We manage our client's profiles so that searches reflect the company’s most positive aspects. More and more people are now speaking their search query rather than typing it – which means managing ratings and reviews proactively, and answering and managing the negative and positive reviews is imperative to rank in search results.

Optimizing your content for voice search

The increase in voice search has far-reaching business impacts. When it comes to voice search, users want direct answers, instead of links to more information common in text searches. This change in consumer behavior means that old SEO methods will lose effectiveness, forcing companies to tailor their web content to the rise of voice technology.

Voice searches are typically longer than traditional text-based searches and are phrased as questions. For example, on your laptop, you might type ‘movies nearby’ whereas in voice search, you might ask ‘what movies are playing tonight near me?’ The net result is that content and semantic search are replacing traditional search-optimized keywords and phrases.

Tailor your conversational content by

1) using natural language and targeting long-tail keywords – Long-tail descriptions (a more specific keyword phrase that contains at least three words) are important tools. The way people search using voice is completely different than how they use a search engine. Instead of typing ‘pizza shop Chicago,’ they might say ‘show me pizza shops near me.’ To appear in these searches, you need to target long-tail keywords that use natural phrases.

2) focusing on questions and writing in a conversational tone – Q&A content is a great way to maximize voice query results. For example, a text search might say ‘Nordstrom hours.’ A voice search is typically a question, like ‘what time does Nordstrom open?’ Creating content that answers questions is a great way to capture consumers who are searching by voice.

The fight for position zero

A featured snippet is an answer to a query that appears above the organic search results in position zero – the part of the SEO process that digital assistants are most in tune with. Position zero is a way to describe the information that appears in Google’s ‘Answer Box’. Featured snippets provide an opportunity to own specific search phrases, even outranking competitors in the coveted #1 organic search position. Position zero powers voice search as the only answer to common questions. In other words, the featured snippet will be the only thing that shows up. Even better, it is read aloud and the source is shown. Good news! If your site is on the first page of the search results, you might end up in that box.

Digital assistants and local search

Your company must rank high enough in local search to be selected by a digital assistant. While the competition for the top organic local spot is fierce, there are measures you can take to encourage digital assistants to pick you as the right answer. Be sure that you’re maintaining your local search ecosystem:

Optimize your location data – Getting all of your location data in order is key. Digital assistants will only be as good as the data that they have. Make sure your location information is always updated, correct and consistent across the web.

Fill out all relevant business categories for Google My Business – Make it easy for digital assistants to find your name, address and phone number (NAP) and make your Google My Business (GMB) profile as complete as possible.

Cultivate reviews – Search engines rely on reviews for verifying the quality of a business. Monitor reviews and address complaints quickly. More importantly, cultivate reviews from satisfied customers by asking them for feedback.

In this new era of SEO, voice search will continue to transform as digital assistants become mainstream. If you want to ensure a high ranking for voice searches, your website needs to feature content that has a conversational tone and your business needs to maintain a positive reputation online.

Want to know more about the new world of digital assistants and voice search and how it impacts your SEO, or need help with any part of your website design process? Contact HLM today!

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors…

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