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5 Things Healthcare Marketers Need to Know About Voice Search

If you’re tasked with figuring out how voice search impacts your hospital’s digital strategy, read on.

“Alexa: Tell me how to succeed in voice search.”

If only it was that easy.

As we enter 2018, the hot topic is voice search, or as Google defines it, an “eyes-free voice assistant.” Maybe you’re using voice search more in your own life, connected to your voice assistant at home while cooking, watching your favorite TV show, or playing some family-friendly tunes during family game night.

And while the previous years had a slow adoption of voice search, 2017 saw a boon. According to Search Engine Watch, 60.5 million Americans used Siri, Cortana, or other voice assistants at least once a month. But a 2017 Forrester’s study revealed many people still aren’t quite committed to using voice features all the time.

So with those mixed messages, is focusing on voice search worth your time? Yes! Because at its core, preparing for voice search means focusing on great content and great user experience.

How are people using voice search today?

According to MindMeld’s 2016 Voice Assistants Research Report, most users (61 percent) rely on voice for hands-free searching, or when their vision is otherwise occupied, but there are other conveniences to voice search, too:

  • 30 percent use voice search for faster results
  • 24 percent use voice when it’s difficult to type on certain devices, like smartphones
  • 22 percent think voice searching is “fun and cool”
  • 12 percent rely on voice search to avoid confusing menus

The study also revealed that 43 percent of respondents use their voice search in the home, another 36 percent in the car, and 19 percent on-the-go. Approximately 3 percent of respondents rely on voice search at the office or at work.

How can we prepare healthcare strategy for voice search?

As digital marketers, we’re still in the early phases of understanding the complexity and intent of voice search. Fortunately, we can get our arms around some things we’re able to control as marketers, especially as it relates to voice search. And Google recently released some of the criteria for ranking content for voice, which gives us a good path forward.

Based on that knowledge, here are five helpful things healthcare marketers should know about voice search.

1. Text answers dominate the voice search results landscape

As this post is written, the majority of featured snippets that answer searchers’ questions are text-based. In a voice search study by Moz in 2017, approximately 65 percent of all featured snippets are text based, with a list format coming in at 30 percent (but let’s be honest: even lists are in text-format).

To help compete in the voice search landscape, put your efforts in answering user questions with content on your website. Tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer, Google Trends, and your own search engine queries provide insight for voice-friendly content.

But keep an eye on other formats. Tables and videos account for less than 10 percent of query results, but that could change as voice search evolves.

2. Voice searchers love asking questions

While we may be accustomed to typing grammatically awkward queries into search engines on desktop (e.g. foot pain cramping), voice search studies reveal we’re more likely to use full questions or statements with our voice assistants, like “OK Google, why is my foot cramping?”

Consider how to structure your content so it hits a happy medium and addresses both of the types of queries, and in turn meets the needs of the most users. On a page of content, are you discussing high-importance topics that readers need to know? Can you set off the information with a question-oriented subheading?

3. Structure, length, and grammar matter — a lot

Based on Google’s recently released criteria for voice search ranking, the formulation of content – including grammar and spelling – play a big role in the voice search being a success by user standards.

Text length matters, too. While a desktop search gives us more freedom and comfortability to read longer answers, voice search (and the listener) appreciate content that’s short-and-sweet sentences and paragraphs.

4. Voice search still relies on local listings

You’ve probably been hit over the head enough with “local, local, local” from other marketing experts, but we’re going to do it again. If you haven’t claimed your local business listings on search engines like Google and Bing, do it now. This ensures each listing of your business is up-to-date, especially since mobile voice-related searches are three-times more likely to be local-based, like directions to doctor’s offices.

5. Great content is the key to great SEO – voice, desktop or otherwise

Until we hear otherwise, Google has made it clear that consistent, unique, audience-focused content is still the bread-and-butter of connecting searchers with information they need. Strong, clear headings and subheadings, user-first language, and quick-to-browse elements like bulleted lists, are a great way to ensure your content is still easy to digest by web visitors, search engines, and now voice search results.

What are my next steps when it comes to voice search?

Before you lock yourself in your office to decode the mysteries of voice search, know that if you’re putting efforts into good content – from your website copy to content marketing efforts – you’re likely connecting with your target audiences somewhere.

So if you want to make sure you’re covering your bases for voice search, just keep investing in unique, user-friendly content. Consider, too, the literacy of your content. Is it easy to read? In the medical field, we have a particularly essential responsibility to translate difficult topics and content into easy-to-understand language.

If you need help developing compelling content for your website or blog, contact us. Our team is skilled in creating content that educates and converts.

5 Things Healthcare Marketers Need to Know About Voice Search