Conversational search: How it is changing SEO

The SEO world is constantly changing. Content is always king, but the evolution of search is driving changes in content philosophy. Sometimes new inventions in the technology world cause some dramatic changes to the search landscape. One of such inventions is the rising number of gadgets that allow smart phone owners to use the search engines by speaking to them. It doesn’t matter if you are thinking Siri, Bing or Google Now, the fact is more people are searching the web hands-free these days, and it is a growing trend.

What does this mean for SEO?

This means that if you want your website to beat some of the biggest competitors, you have to start thinking towards what people will likely say to the search engines instead of what they will type into the search box provided. Google is making the transition, so you better had too.

Here is an example. Let’s say you live in one of the districts in Surrey, and you are looking for a good web design firm for a project. If you are searching on desktop or mobile and want to type out your query, you will type something like “web design surrey”.  Here is a look at the result Google gave us for this query.


The web design firms up there have done a great job with their local SEO to capture those 5 spots. However, Google’s improvement of conversational search and the increase in the number of high tech mobile users changes things a lot.

When talking to their devices, most people will talk in a natural manner, meaning phrases that they probably wouldn’t take the time to type out in full while on desktop. Going back to our example, you would likely say something along the lines of “which is the best web design firm in Surrey”. Since voice search results are highly customised, the result will definitely be different from the first one. Here is a look at what we got.


As you can see from the above, only made it to the top 5 results for both voice search and manual search. A company that wasn’t even in the first result list took the first spot for this one!

This is what conversational search is doing to SEO in every sector. To quote Paul at Click Intelligence, “it doesn’t matter what business sector you are in, your SEO efforts aren’t comprehensive if you are not taking conversational search into consideration”.

It is worth the effort

You may be wondering how many people actually use the search engines this way.  Here is an article that tells us that 4 out of 5 people do searches on mobile. So, you can’t go on neglecting conversational search. It levels the playing field for small businesses too, as people can now see beyond the biggest brands more easily.

This is not to say that you have to throw away short keyword phrases. They are still valuable. However, they have the most power when a visitor is typing. Spoken search requires that you use much more information alongside those keywords. Go back to our example to see how the keywords “web design” and “surrey” were used in a conversational search.

This all brings us back to content. SEO is heavily reliant on content. What you need to do to stay relevant in the conversational search world is to ensure your content answers questions!

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Vinod is Tech blogger. He contributes to the Blogging, Gadgets, Social Media and Tech News section on DigitalYcia.