Hello, Google (or Alexa or Siri or whoever): What will your voice search results do to my digital profile? 

It’s a big question, and the answer is still evolving.

Voice search is growing in popularity because it’s faster and easier than typing, especially on mobile devices with a virtual keyboard. And it’s becoming more and more accurate.

Apple’s Siri has been hanging around since 2011, but it’s only been in the last year that voice search has really started to gain traction. Amazon’s Alexa and Echo devices were among the company’s best-selling products in 2016, according to Forbes. In a Higher Visibility survey of 2,000 mobile phone users, 87 percent said they thought that mobile voice search was accurate.

A year ago, Google said that it may bring voice query reporting to the Google Search Console’s Search Analytics report, but it didn’t have a target date yet.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai outlined his company’s “AI first” future vision at its I/O keynote in May, and spoke about the company’s focus on building out artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities across its suite of products, including the use of voice search and also visual search with Google Lens.

Needless to say, the move away from text-based to voice commands will revolutionize and disrupt search — and search engine optimization (SEO) — as we know it today.

The major sea change will be the way the search is conducted. Text search results are based on keywords. In voice searches, users tend to ask fully formed questions in sentences. For example, a text search might say “Nordstrom hours.” A voice search instead would have to be a question, like “What time does Nordstrom open?”

When voice becomes a factor in searches, online reputation managers will have to rethink SEO strategies and reinvent ways to create content that stands out. 

In anticipating the rise of voice search, those who control websites should include the rising value of FAQ pages, which includes fully formed questions similar to the kinds people are asking through voice search. Q&A content will be another good way to maximize good voice query results.

Long-tail descriptions — a more specific keyword phrase that contains at least three words — will become an even more important tool.

Optimizing web content for mobile and local search will become even more important.

Some things won’t change in terms of one’s online reputation, particularly for businesses. Earning and maintaining positive online reviews will still be important, because reviews affect a target’s ranking in local search results.  

Voice search technology is relatively young and still has a long way to go. But, the reputation management industry is already anticipating the time — and it’s coming — when voice search play a dominant role in online search results.  Afterall, ComScore predicts that voice search will account for 50 percent of all searches by 2020. 

Matt Earle

Founder & President

Matt Earle, Founder of Reputation.ca, is a leading Canadian expert on online reputation management with over 15 years of hands on experience working in the space. Mr. Earle’s educational background includes an H.BSc from the University of Toronto and certification as a Google Professional. His expertise has been acknowledged through national television appearances on CBC, PBS and CTV, being a guest host on CBC radio, and numerous quotes in print and online media.