Conversational Searches impact SEO Strategy

Whether it’s designing a particular website or coming up with a content marketing plan, digital marketing is ever-changing. As various search engines – especially Google – change and evolve with the times. SEO strategies have to change too. It all starts with understanding that the number one goal of Google, and all of the search engines, is to deliver the very best content to meet the individual searchers’ request.  

When Google makes a change – especially a major change in how they rank pages or how they treat data the SEO world rushes out to try and get the jump on their client’s competitors.  For example, when Google stopped putting up with subpar content such as thin content a majority of the SEO agencies started working on quality content over quantity. They did this out of self-defense – to prevent lower search ranking on Google’s Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs).  When Google decided to go for a mobile-first index, most agencies employed developers to update and revamp sites to support the ever-growing world of smartphone users. The point being, whenever there is a shift in what Google tells us they are focusing on, businesses have to adapt and change.

A natural next step that has grown out of our affinity for smartphone is that we have changed the way we search. I have written about this in the past in an article titled: 6 Ways to Take Advantage of Voice Search.  It is crucial for everyone to change their SEO strategies to accommodate the fact that searches have evolved to be somewhat an extension of how we speak.

Conversational Speech

According to Think with Google’s article, “How conversational searches change your search strategy”,  mobile searches for “do I need” have grown over 65%. For example, “how much do I need tosmart phones are changing how we searchretire” or “what size generator do I need.”   

Gone are the days of typing in keywords like cruise travel and hoping for the best. Today, conversational questions are made easy because of voice search. This allows us to ask specific, pointed and personally relevant questions. 

Thanks to various digital assistants out there such as Siri and Google Assistant, we’ve discovered that finding precisely what we want can be much faster and easier when we write or speak more specific searches, and this is achieved via conversational search queries. In other words, this means searching like you are talking to a friend rather than a search engine. For instance, instead of asking Google for “dentist”, conversational queries would be like you’re asking your friend, “who is the best implant dentist near me” ? 

Such kind of more specific queries that entail intent will enable you to cut through all the millions of results and arrive at an answer or result that more closely relates to what you’re searching for, to begin with.

The Intent of Search

With every single search, there is the intent. With conversational searches, the intent tends to be stronger. This is determined by the number of descriptors and words included in the specific query.  A lot of times, these conversational searches also consist of the how and the Five Ws: how, why, when, where, what, and who, which include even more intent to the specific search. Apart from how and the Five Ws, Google points out that a majority of users are searching for things that have to do with “I” more often. Like I mentioned earlier, this is because of our mobile affinity.

As a website owner, you probably have keywords built into your pages when you did the on-page optimization.  The challenge today is building in the questions and answers that match what people are looking for.  Our content must be more conversational too. No longer can you expect to be found based on technical jargon. You have to pay much more attention to natural language that imitates real conversations.

Where do you start? 

conversational keyword researchThere is any number of tools that show us keywords. The most popular is the Google Adwords Keyword finder.  I find this tool to be just fine if you are looking for Paid Traffic but if you are looking for free organic traffic that is very targeted to people with intent to buy, there are better tools. What we are trying to do is find the questions people are asking about the answers our business provides. Although we want it included, we want to go deeper than answering “carpet cleaner near me”. Instead, let’s look for the questions people are asking that have buyers intent such as “what’s the best way to get my carpets cleaned”? Or “how do I get my carpet clean after a flood”?

The first tool I go to when conducting this type of research is to point my browser at the site Answer the Public. This tool has a free option where you can search. What this does not do in the free version is localize the results. Simply enter your search term and it spits out a nice grouping of conversational phrases. I entered “get more Google reviews” and it spits out 18 questions including how can we get more stars on Google reviews and best way to get more google reviews. It also included 12 prepositions including How to get more google reviews for my business.  

The second tool, Ubersuggest is put out by the brilliant minds at Niel Patel. I love this tool. You can enter a keyword or phrase and let it do its thing. It will suggest questions and existing pages for you to get content ideas from. When you do the keyword search you not only get questions but you also get the SEO difficulty of getting ranked for it and the price if you pay for it in Google Adwords. 

Once you do your homework on the questions and answers that need to be developed, it has to be added to the site but that’s a topic for another day.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about this or other digital marketing topics feel free to leave a comment below or contact me.