3 Key Differences Between Text Search and Voice Search


Even healthcare organizations who are on top of their text search SEO game may not be prepared for the rapidly-rising popularity of voice search.

Amazon Prime Day was July 16, and while the e-commerce giant is famously quiet when it comes to exact sales numbers, some sources estimate that half of Amazon Prime members — so, around 50 million people — now own an Amazon Echo device. While Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices currently take the lead as the most popular brand of smart speakers, their leading rival, Google, claims to sell a Google Home product every second.

But while these two tech giants battle it out for voice assistant dominance, the immense popularity of both of their devices — not to mention Apple’s Siri — has already created big SEO changes that medical organizations need to prepare for. Here are the three primary differences between text search and voice search, and how marketers can optimize sites for both.

1. Voice search users query differently.

Because people don’t talk in the same way that they type, healthcare organizations need to be increasingly aware of the use of voice search and optimize their keywords for both types of searches. People tend to talk to their voice assistants in much the way that they would talk to a human assistant — “Siri, where can I get tested for gluten intolerance?” Text search tends to involve shorter phrases using top keywords: “allergy specialist.”

But the searches themselves aren’t the only difference between voice and text search. When people use voice search devices, they often want a single answer in response; because of this, voice assistants are being increasingly optimized to choose the best answer on their own without offering the user a list of search results. This makes the SEO game far more high-stakes in voice search; it’s never been more important to take advantage of long tail keywords to ensure that users searching for a healthcare organization like yours will find you every time.

2. Location matters (even more).

Voice search is highly location-dependent; as voice assistants have adapted to users’ preference for a single answer, they’ve also developed a higher capacity to respond to casually-phrased questions naturally. A question like “What’s a good restaurant around here” will prompt a location-based search of restaurants rather than a search of that exact phrase.

Similarly, if a user asks their voice assistant to “call a doctor near me,” their device will actually call a doctor near them — a highly-possible scenario, seeing as 35% of consumers report that they would be interested in the option to book medical appointments via voice search. Make use of services like Google My Business, Yelp, and LocalBusiness schema markup to make sure you won’t miss out on chances to be the healthcare organization at the winning end of a voice search.

3. Mobile dominates.

Despite the increasing popularity of smart home devices, mobile takes the crown as the most dominant voice search platform. Like the majority of voice searches, mobile searches are heavily dependent on location; however, your company can be optimized for location-based searches but still fall flat on mobile devices.

Unlike Amazon Echo or Google Home, all mobile devices come equipped with a screen, meaning that they are more likely to offer users a list of search results than smart speakers are. Even if your site appears at the top of the list, a slow site speed or a homepage that isn’t mobile-friendly can mean losing a potential patient.

If you take advantage of long-tail keywords, make sure your location is up-to-date and easily-searched, and optimize your site for mobile, you’ll increase your voice search traffic and get a leg up on competitors who haven’t yet addressed the increasing popularity of voice assistants.

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