Despite Google’s frustrating efforts to front-load its search results with its own content extracts and functions, SEO (search engine optimization) remains a core concern for all businesses that care about being found, and it isn’t going anywhere. When you want to get an answer to a question or find a particular product, there’s an excellent chance that you start with a search.
While its importance stays largely undiminished, though, the mechanics of SEO have changed significantly since the industry first emerged — and they’re going to keep changing as the online zeitgeist continues to shift. In this post, we’re going to look specifically at how SEO is going to be affected by the prevalence of voice search and chatbots. Let’s get started:
Chatbots will elevate the standard for retailers and service brands
While the presence of a chatbot on a particular site won’t directly influence the SEO (it isn’t a technical metric like loading speed, nor is it useful for including keywords), it will affect the ranking of a page by improving its on-page metrics relative to those of its competitors. The inclusion of a high-quality chatbot will keep visitors around longer, make them more likely to convert, and increase the likelihood that they’ll return in the near future.
Google will pick up on these things, and soon come to rate the website more highly. Eventually, this may make a versatile and responsive chatbot platform (something like Crisp, for instance) a must-have for any brand that wants to be competitive, earning it a place on every high-level SEO checklist. Regardless, it’s going to become harder to compete if you don’t offer live chat.
Natural queries will require content to be more digestible
Voice search is a great addition for people who don’t particularly like using computers or simply have bad memories of assembling clunky search queries. Yes, it’s true that you can now use natural language queries in text just as effectively as you can in speech, but it’s somewhat clunky to type in a full question like “What pizza places serving stuffed-crust pizzas are open in my area at the moment?” (while it’s easy to just ask it of a voice assistant).
Due to this, the question-and-answer format (and FAQ schema) will become a more common part of the suggested SEO structure. It’s been useful for some time due to simply being useful for visitors, but now that search engines are hunting through indexed content looking for answers to specific questions, offering single-paragraph answers to set questions is essential for anyone who aspires to have their content featured in position zero.
Action-centric searches will demand functional integration
Voice search is really more about voice requests: sometimes people request information about particular topics, while other times they request action. For example, you can tell your voice assistant to set a reminder, or email someone, or do one of various other actions now built into the underlying system. And since brands often try to attract links through building utility assets, getting them connected to voice assistant systems is only going to get more important.
Imagine that you were running a company selling furniture and you decided to design a furniture preview tool that prospective customers could use to mock up their interior layouts. It would be great for getting links from relevant sites (something that would really help with SEO), but anything you could do to get it to rank by itself would be useful.
How would action-centric searches tie into this? Well, if the tool were accessible to Google, the engine could respond to a query like “Show me a furniture preview tool” with an embed of the tool (not far-fetched given the route Google is taking). That would be useful for the searcher, and great for the SEO efforts of your company.
As long as there are ways to search for content, products and companies, the SEO industry will remain hugely influential — but it has to change with the times, and the rise of voice search and chatbots will play a significant part in future development.
Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. He’s worked with the biggest platforms in the world, making him the perfect person to offer advice on which platforms to build your website with. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.