The Keyword’s Next Evolutionary Step

The annual swath of SEO predictions made an interesting point. This one, this one — oh, and this one — each said that the shape of keywords is going to change (more or less).

ForbesJayson DeMer put it this way:

Modern search engines are receiving more and more queries from digital assistants, which are adding a new layer to the complexity of search (think of Siri, Cortana, and Google Now). Spoken language queries tend to be much different than typed queries, meaning a whole new type of long-tail keyword queries — particularly those that mimic spoken dialogue — will emerge. This trend could reward pages that contain colloquial, conversational content.

In other words, as digital assistants grow more advanced, usable, and popular, keywords will become questions.

This trend is as surprising as it is expected. The fact that real, usable digital assistants is amazing. They’re the stuff of sci-fi, after all. Siri and Google Now are like real word equivalents of Tony Stark’s Jarvis or the Enterprise’s computer.

However, digital assistants weren’t the ones who started evolving keywords. They changed on their own.

As Ironpaper noted just last summer, one of the SEO trends that dominated 2015 was focusing on the user’s intent behind a search and optimizing accordingly. The author uses mobile searchers, 56% of which are from users seeking local information, as an example. Because mobile users larger search for local info, small businesses need to optimize accordingly. The author also notes that “we’re seeing a shift towards very precise, long-tail keyword searches because they attract qualified traffic and have less competition when compared to broad keyword terms.”

In other words, it’s just been a matter of time before users stopped plugging in the words they wanted like children who can’t speak yet, and started asking search engines questions.

But what does this mean?

Yes, the big important question: what does this mean? This trend is not an end of conventional SEO methods, but it is a change in the SEO ecosystem that requires a bit of adapting.

Sites would be wise to optimize for voice-search before it becomes the dominant way to search. Whether it’s Siri, Google Now, or the much anticipated Facebook M, you’re going to want your site to be the one the robotic voice reads off when people ask questions, because they’re going to be.

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