By Jay Levine
With all the attention that Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Home or even Microsoft’s Cortana is receiving, it’s important to project how usage of these AI systems will impact how patients find your practice.
What is Voice Search?
Voice Search is the ability of an AI device to utilize speech recognition technology, identify your verbal query and deliver search results in a spoken format — which begs the question(s), will Voice Search impact the visibility and authority of your endodontic practice? If dentists need to pay attention to this new technology, what can be done to leverage and benefit from voice search? Well, let’s dig a little deeper.
Fundamentals of Voice Search
We should start with some basic statistics to better comprehend the current state of Voice Search:
- In just two years, 47.3 million U.S. adults will have access to a smart speaker — that’s one in five U.S adults. This is 20% of the U.S. adult population. That’s up from one of six in January. To put that in perspective, it took 13 years for televisions to reach the 50 million mark.
- Almost 34% of owners have two or more smart devices in their homes (living room and kitchen being most popular, followed by bedroom.)
- 40% of adults utilize Voice Search at least once per day.
- By 2020, 50% of all searches will be via Voice Search.
- 20% of all search performed on mobile devices are through Voice Search.
- It’s three times more common for mobile Voice Search to drive local results than those queries made via keyboard.
That last statistic is incredibly important: Mobile Voice Search drives local results. The trend is obvious and it’s important to consider not if or when you should adapt this SEO strategy but how.
Interestingly enough, Voice Search is about the user experience and convenience, it’s not an advertising model – at least not yet. By focusing on proper optimization of a website, you can implement existing best practice techniques that will already benefit the voice search approach. By understanding the differences in voice search vs. traditional Google queries, we can better comprehend the approach needed:
The way you search by voice will affect Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Voice Search is about meaning, not necessarily the “keyword search.” Natural language focuses on the intended meaning of a patient’s search query. We can test this by asking an Amazon Echo (Alexa) the following :
“Find me an Endodontist in Ocean, N.J.” Alexa will answer, “A popular one is Advanced Endodontic Associates, PA, located on 2546.1 miles away on 1389 highway 35S and it is currently closed but will be open tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.”
I can proceed to ask Alexa for the practice phone number and she will respond in kind with the correct answer. Full disclosure, AdvancedEndo.net is a PBHS client and has been optimized for Google and Voice Search.
It is important to understand that Natural Language queries have been accessible on Google since the Hummingbird Update in 2013. If you type in the exact same query into the Google Search Bar, you would receive the same exact results that Amazon Alexa spoke. Most people don’t type this way, but they do speak this way.
Because of this conversational approach to search, websites must be optimized contextually, not by keyword. Does your home page content focus on intent of communication and is it written in an easy to understand approach?
Most Voice Search Will Return One Result — Not 10
Unlike Google or Bing, Voice Search will generally return the most authoritative search result, not a verbal regurgitation of 10 websites. There is NO RANKING 4th, 5th or 6th among a conversation of results. Could you imagine Alexa rambling on about all the local dentists in your city? Your website must be one of the best results available. A contextual search result that ranks in top three positions on Google, will, 75% of the time, be the result within a Voice Search.
The Four Intents of Search
Patients search for information because:
- They want to find your (or a ) practice.
- They want to research their disorder or possible treatment.
- They want to schedule an appointment.
- They want to do something, i.e: download post-op instructions, register online, pay a bill, etc.
As a business, it’s these moments that are opportunities to carry that patient through their initial journey to your practice. With the increase of Voice Search, efforts in optimization of your website should focus on these intentions, or as Google calls them, “micro-moments.” Micro-moments can be best exemplified by the use of the work “Best” in search – especially voice search. Google shows growth of the use of “Best” by over 80% between 2015 and 2017. For example, “Best Restaurant in San Francisco” or “Best Root Canal in New Jersey.” Funnily enough, mobile search for the term “Best Toothbrush” has grown over 100% in the past two years.
SEO Strategies to Rank on Voice Search
1. Optimize for The Answer Box Snippet. 40.7% of Voice Search results come from a Featured Snippet at the top-ranking position of Google. This is the definition box that you may occasionally see at the top of the page. If I was in New Jersey and queried Google, “What are wisdom teeth?”, the results would state the following:
If you can rank your website results in what is called “Position 0”, it’s more likely you will be the answer to this Voice Search Query.
2. Claim and Flush out Your Google My Business (Map) Listing. Your Google Business listing is a large data source for patients searching for your practice. By have a completed listing, fully optimized and up to date with the most current data, you have a higher probability of being the return on a patient’s Voice Search.
3. On Page Schema for Top Pages. On Page Schema (a semantic vocabulary of microdata that you can add to your HTML to improve search results) enables Google to better comprehend the intent of your page and what is represents. Yet only one-third of Voice Search results come from pages that utilize Schema.
4. Secure Websites Rank Higher. 4 % of Google Home Voice Search results are website that are secured with HTTPS.
5. High Social Engagement. Content that is shared, liked or re-tweeted performs well in Voice Search. The average Voice Search results has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets.
6. Easy To Read Content. Google Voice Search results are based on easy to read content, averaging at the ninth grade level.
7. The loading time of your website is important not only in your Google search results, but in Voice Search Results. The average Voice Search results is based upon page load times of 4.6 seconds (which is 56% faster than the average page.)
8. Use of Natural Language. Google sources answers to Voice Search based upon highly descriptive pages of content. We call this “long form content’ or “Long -Tail” approach to content creation.
9. Optimize for Mobile. Mobile Optimization is one of the most important factors for ranking high on Google search results. The more mobile friendly the easier it is to be the voice search answer.
Best Practices Win. Pardon the multifaceted pun, but inevitably, if you follow best practices for optimizing your website, you will more likely set the foundation for being a resulting winner in Voice Search. Stay competitive, work with an expert, set realistic goals and expectations, demand easy access to reports and track the progress of your rankings and conversions. Most importantly, keep your eye on the future. Change is happening quickly, and the marketing and visibility of your endodontic practice brand needs to stay current.
Jay Levine is president of PBHS, the endorsed website design firm for the AAE Membership. For more information on integrated website, SEO, and social media campaigning for your endodontic practice, please contact PBHS at 1-800-840-5383.