As voice search continues to rise in popularity, medical marketers need to adapt their SEO strategies to keep up.
By the year 2020 — just 18 months from now — 50% of all searches will be voice searches. But even more concerning for medical marketers hoping to appear in a list of search results, a full 30% of all searches will be performed without any screen at all. These statistics, which are largely due to the increasing popularity of voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa, are sending many medical marketers back to the drawing board with their SEO strategy.
Fortunately, many SEO best practices for typed search translate into voice search as well. Minor adjustments to an SEO strategy are all that it takes to stay ahead of the curve and on top of the voice search trend, but failing to make these modifications can mean getting lost in the search shuffle.
All About Location
Many people turn to voice search over typed search because they’re on the go, which means that their questions to their voice assistants will often end in “near me.” These potential patients aren’t interested in shuffling through a list of search results for the best options; they want Siri, Google Assistant, or Cortana to answer their question right away – with one definitive answer.
Developers are constantly updating voice search platforms to reflect users’ preference for a single, location-based result. In July 2014, Google’s “Pigeon” update made location information a prime determinant of SEO rankings. Businesses that have conflicting or unclear location listings are at a distinct SEO disadvantage, but every business stands to gain in the voice search game by updating and increasing their location listings online.
For this reason, claiming your business on as many online directories as possible is critical, as is ensuring that your name, address, and phone information is consistent and up-to-date across all major platforms and assistants. If you update your Google My Business address after a move but neglect your Yelp, the voice assistant won’t know which address is accurate and will penalize your search ranking as a result. When only one search result is reaching the consumer, there’s no room for error.
Also, while location accuracy in voice search is improving every day, it can’t hurt to include your location within your site’s copy and schema markup. It’s not unimaginable that a user would ask their assistant for an “eye doctor in Tampa,” and you should be doing everything in your power to increase the likelihood that your practice will appear in the search results.
Answering the Right Questions
When people talk to their voice assistants, they don’t form their inquiries the same way that they do in typed search queries. Rather, they tend to ask fully-formed, conversational questions: “What’s the closest fertility clinic to me?” instead of “fertility clinic near me.” Anticipating these types of questions will increase your chances of appearing in their search results.
One smart way of anticipating this change in language is updating your frequently asked questions (FAQ) page: phrase the page’s questions in the wording you’d expect from a voice search user. Remember that “Where’s a dermatologist near me?” and “Give me directions to a dermatologist” are both likely search queries; try to account for slight differences in phrasing within your FAQ page. Tools like StoryBase and AnswerThePublic are great resources for brainstorming natural language keyword phrases.
You can also pull this principle into your content marketing to increase your SERP rankings. Write blog posts and white papers that respond to common patient questions, making sure to focus on one or two long tail keywords per post.
In the high-stakes game of voice search, it’s more important than ever to maintain SEO best practices. All it takes is a few tweaks to stay ahead of the curve.