The rise of voice search has brought wholesale changes to all forms of content online, and video content is no exception.
Marketing Video Marketing

How Is Video Content Affected By the Rise of Voice Search?

5 Minute Read

Voice search holds major influence over online search traffic, and its upward mobility shows no signs of slowing down. According to the Internet Trends Report 2016, voice search query volume has grown 35-fold since the iPhone and Google Voice Search were released.

Meanwhile, digital assistants are beginning to saturate the mobile market, and mainstays like Apple’s Siri are receiving big updates to strengthen their value to consumers. In-home internet-of-things technology will only increase the functionality and availability of voice search.

The effects of voice search on content creation are widespread, and video content is no exception. Despite their visual appeal, videos still depend on text to drive organic traffic and SEO relevance—which leaves plenty of opportunity for voice to have an impact. Beyond that, video has several advantages as it relates to voice search, and certain qualities that help ensure its success in that arena. Even as voice search options continue to evolve, video creators should begin to pivot their strategies to prepare for its growth.

Courtesy of Alexander Torrenegra

Search Implications on Content

Many of the changes brought to online content will affect all forms equally. As the share of total queries coming from voice search channels grows, the traditional rules of SEO will evolve. (For example: Because users are orating their search queries, the language is more natural and conversational—so in terms of search patterns, think “what’s the weather like in Singapore?” versus “Singapore weather.”) That can change the specific phrasing of long-tail keywords, and even affect the types of keywords that are most valuable to a specific content creator for video marketing purposes.

Meanwhile, the progression of searches is also changing. As Search Engine Watch pointed out, voice search users often dispense with short, basic keyword searches in favor of much more specific queries. Instead of “cast iron pots,” they might search for “LeCreuset cast iron pots for sale in Mobile, AL.” Voice users tend to be much more verbose than people who are typing queries into an online box, which is good and bad: while it reduces the value and volume of more general keyword searches, the length and detail of voice-based queries can be much more effectively targeted.

The nature of voice search itself also reflects some behavioral trends among its active users. Voice search features a high concentration of on-the-go searchers, who are typically preoccupied and seeking fast solutions. In fact, this preoccupation may be why they turn to voice search in the first place—it gives them a hands-free way to conduct their research while still going about their days.

Picture a search user driving to work, cutting vegetables for dinner, or working on their car while asking their digital assistant for a quick answer to a problem they’re wrestling with, and it’s easy to see how voice search’s rise can be tied to users who are more distracted, busy, and impatient than ever.

Perhaps that’s why short-form content seems to be better suited for voice search users: quicker bites of content can respond to users’ needs without creating any further distraction.

The Challenges and Advantages of Video

Video might seem like a tougher type of content to build specifically for voice, given the extra emphasis on long-tail keyword targeting, but it actually has the potential to thrive if marketers are willing to put in the work. Video already has a lot in common, stylistically, with voice search—for example, it’s already built in natural-form language, which will appeal to voice search users and provide a simple template for writing SEO text to reflect that stylistic tone.

SiriIn other words, marketers can lean on the natural language styles found in their video content to craft SEO content that mimics voice users’ speaking habits.

Meanwhile, user satisfaction with video figures to be greater than with other forms of content, because video can more convincingly partake in a two-way conversation. In fact, video can be designed to specifically answer the question likely represented by a long-tail search keyword query.

The risk, of course, is that marketers won’t take these critical steps—or that they’ll change their video strategies without altering their SEO. The underlying SEO supporting any video must align with both the content and with the habits of voice search users, otherwise its intended audience won’t find it.

SEO will likely be one of the greatest barriers to content’s success in the face of voice search—in other words, video marketers have a lot of work to do.

Adapting to Survive—and Thrive

Video creators are lucky that voice search habits are such natural extensions of what works so well for video in the first place. Building online video that embraces natural language—SEO text, too—is the best way to create with voice search in mind. Where older text-based content might take more work to be retrofitted for long-tail queries, video’s natural language tendencies won’t require much adjustment, if any.

With short content being the preference through voice search, creators can turn larger pieces of video content into a handful of separate shorter pieces. Each of these videos will speak more specifically to a question, idea, or area of interest, and strong metadescriptions, titling, and keyword targeting will help these videos find their audiences. Video creators might even consider whether new approaches to content, such as Q&A or FAQ video clips, might be effective means of targeting voice search queries while providing quick, digestible content.

And as videos are built to better support voice search traffic, brands should make sure other components of their marketing follow a similar approach. Websites and blogs, for example, should really work to emphasize their local SEO footprints, since voice search is three times more likely to be related to a user’s local area. Anywhere that video is hosted, voice search needs to be accounted for.

It may not feel like much of a priority now, but brands can develop strategies for voice search without compromising other aspects of their marketing strategies. Video might be the best place to start building for a search future that is fast approaching.

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Jonathan Crowl specializes in digital marketing and content creation for both B2B and B2C brands, with an emphasis on startups and technology. His past and current clients include B2B brands IBM, LinkedIn, Mad Mobile, Oktopost, BrightSpot, and Waze, as well as B2C brands Porsche, Epson, and PayPal. He lives in Minneapolis.

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