Teaching an Old Website New Tricks in the Age of Alexa

How you type something isn’t how you speak, and now the internet knows how you do both. In the age of Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Home, voice search optimization is the latest AI integration your company needs to understand.

It wasn’t always like that.

Search engine optimization starts with a basic, and we mean the most basic you can get, understanding of words and search results. How we search on our computers or text on our phones is drastically different from our standard speaking style.

While it’s easy to type in three or four words that Google could easily understand, like best pizza place or bank hours, saying them is often more difficult.

Because we don’t talk like that, if you open up a voice search tool, your brain is hard-wired to say what you need, in your usual speaking style, tone, and inflection.

Best pizza place becomes Where can I find the best pizza place in (City)? or What’s the best pizza place in town? or the ever-popular Which pizza place delivers?

Reaserach Tools: AnswerThePublic shares questions people are asking based on your keywords

Any best-of search could consist of aggregate lists of best pizza places in the world, or New York, plus a few local results. By adding to your search using more directed language, however, you’re more likely to find the best place, in your area, with most of your parameters. Our questions will likely include the critical phrase, but the context complexity gives search engines a finite direction.

Moving to the bank query invokes a new set of rules. Bank hours, or anything time based, is oversimplified when we type it. Time takes on a new standard verbally. Finding the total hours of operation becomes less critical.

Immediacy is vital in voice search optimization. What time does the bank open/close? and Is the bank open? are more pointed questions asking for more direct and relevant information in the now. The primary keyword, while less time consuming to type, may include irrelevant results for times and dates you weren’t searching.

With the most recent data available, only 43% of consumers in North America use voice search or the named assistants like Alexa and Siri. Also, of that 43%, about a quarter use those tools for local searches, although Google’s metrics have ‘near me’ searches on a dramatic rise.

As more people buy and use smart devices, voice search optimization will continue to become a marketing priority.


In the meantime, start asking and answering your target market’s most important questions, online.

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