Specific questions and contextual data can help brands improve their content and see better results as search becomes more conversational.

Web searchers use increasingly conversational language when they consult Google, but marketers don’t just need to optimize for text-based queries. According to new research, voice-based searches may be the future of SEO.

Google survey found that more people are turning to their phones and asking questions. And while only 41 percent of adults have made queries on iPhones by saying, “Ok Google …” aloud, 55 percent of teenagers have. When asked why they prefer voice search, 89 percent of teens said “because it’s the future,” while 78 percent said both that it’s safer and that it allows them to multitask.

Start with search questions and work backwards

Google has already been overhauling its search capabilities, encouraging mobile users to make voice searches. According to the Inside Search blog, users can performs all sorts of voice-activated tasks within search, including ask for directions and find local businesses – all without specifying a location. Instead, Google will interpret “here” or “nearby” as a location relative to GPS-assisted data.

Why is this so important for search marketing? The reasons are twofold:

  1. Search is no longer all about explicit one-to-one keyword matching. It’s not as helpful to optimize content for phrases like “IT solutions in Duluth” – but it is essential to include location data across channels so that Google unequivocally knows where a business that operates locally can be found.

  2. Specific questions will yield specific results. If users – particularly young users who represent the future of search behavior – are going to grab their phones and ask “How do I find a better office router?” content that directly answers that question will be the first thing they look at.

To prepare for a future where most searches begin with “OK, Google” – Carefully identify the questions a searcher might ask so you can answer them with relevant content, and provide Google with as much contextual data as possible about your location, products, prices, etc.

Want to learn more about how context affects search behavior? Check out Brafton’s eBook about semantic search: Speaking Google’s Language.


Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.