What Medical Marketers Should Know About Voice Search and SEO

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As voice recognition technologies continue to improve, medical marketers need to adapt their search engine optimization strategies accordingly.

There’s no denying it: voice search is on the up and up. According to Google, 20% of all searches on its mobile app and Android devices are now voice-based queries (Bing has already hit 25%). According to ComScore, 40% of adults used voice search at least once per day in 2016, and 50% of all online searches will likely be voice-controlled by 2020. And with devices like Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), Google Home, Siri, and Cortana are becoming increasingly commonplace across the country, it’s possible that number could shoot up even higher.

As major search engines adjust their algorithms to account for these emerging products and consumer preferences (KPCB says voice search accuracy has reached 92%), medical marketers will need to adjust their digital strategies accordingly. Here are a few important things to know about voice search, along with some tips and tricks to capitalize on this emerging trend.

How Are People Using Voice Search?

According to SearchEngineLand, consumers typically rely on voice searches to obtain information regarding local goods and services. For example, someone might ask Siri to “find a foot doctor near me,” or Alexa “which New York City podiatrists accept Fidelis Insurance?”

As such, you’ll need to add natural language and action-oriented phrasing throughout your website in order to increase the chances that you’ll rank for these kinds of queries. One of the best ways to do this is with a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. The key lies in identifying the differences between the way we speak and the way we type.

When we type out search queries, they’re typically somewhat truncated — “top rated fertility clinic Philadelphia.” Conversely, people typically speak search queries in complete sentences — “what’s the top-rated fertility clinic in Philadelphia?” If you’re struggling to come up with natural language keyword phrases, tools like StoryBase and AnswerThePublic are great brainstorming resources.

Additionally, while the accuracy of voice search is improving, you should be doing everything in your power to increase the likelihood that your site pops up in response to a voice-based query. That means submitting your sitemap to Google and Bing, as well as investigating and implementing schema, microdata, rich snippets, etc. Check out Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper for some helpful guidance on how all of this works — it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds!

Optimize Your Off-Site Presence As Well

It’s important to remember that if someone finishes their voice search with the phrase, “near me,” your on-site SEO measures aren’t going to have much of an impact. In reality, the device is using physical location data and pulling local listing information from Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, and other online directories. For this reason, claiming your business on as many online directories as possible is absolutely crucial.

Moreover, you need to make sure that your name, address, and phone (NAP) information is consistent and up-to-date across all listing major platforms. For example, if your medical practice moves in a given year and you update the info on every platform except for Yelp, search engines won’t know which address is correct and will likely penalize your search ranking as a result.

The point is, while the rise of voice search won’t necessarily call for a complete SEO overhaul, there are a number of subtle changes that medical marketers should consider implementing — especially as the competition in this area continues to heat up.

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