In the early days of the internet, companies only needed a simple web presence to be among the pioneers of digitization. Playfully animated hover buttons and electronically-synthesized background music were commonly accepted standards. To appear on a search engine, webmasters simply had to submit the URL of their website.
To have a serious presence in today’s internet landscape, there is more than meets the eye: Onpage and Offpage optimization, a serious keyword and Top-Level-Domain combination, appealing content and a professional web design are now all-important pillars to building a successful online presence.
But new trends like voice searches and A.I. powered search queries are shaking up the status quo. Experts predict that we are approaching the dawn of a new age of digitization — and that, eventually, companies’ online marketing strategies will have to adapt.
What’s the deal with Voice-SEO?
There is a reason that the short messaging service, Twitter achieved such massive success in the smartphone-age, or that the classic SMS (“Short Message Service”) restricted texting previously to 160 characters. And the triumph of the touchscreens has not changed anything.
Smartphone users have been making the switch to voice messaging over the course of time. The messaging service “WhatsApp” has made this version of communication especially popular in Europe. Big companies in the industry have also responded: voice assistants such as Siri, Google Home and Amazon Echo (“Alexa …”) have found their way into smartphones. and are contributing to the rise of “smart homes”. Now voice-activated devices handle various day-to-tasks throughout the modern day house. The functionality of these new technologies pertaining to internet searches shake the paradigms of SEO that were valid for years.
Instead of focusing on individual search words, Voice-SEO relies on formulated W-Questions. Starting from the input field of a Google search for “Vegan Restaurant Berlin”, the question “Where can I find a vegan restaurant in Berlin?” is formulated.
This permanent change in search habits also involves necessary adjustments to the classic search engine optimization. It is becoming increasingly important to create content on your own website that answers specific questions. This can be easily implemented, for example, via FAQ pages (“Frequently Asked Questions”). As website owners, it is best to present the formulated questions in headlines and post the answers immediately afterwards. Optimized metadata and a clear URL structure are also helpful. In addition, the relevance of long-tail keywords will increase. (Long tail = longer, very specific word combinations and sentences, as opposed to one-word search queries.) Single keyword domains are rarely available and if they are, they are exorbitantly expensive making the long-tail options more accessible.
How Artificial Intelligence affects internet searches
Together with voice marketing, artificial intelligence is also on the rise. An example of the intersection between the two technology trends is Google’s assistant, Duplex, which was recently presented at their May 2018 developer conference. During a demo, the smart language assistant called a hairdresser. It made an appointment in a fluid conversation and convincingly simulated human voice.
Further AI projects of this kind are currently under development like being able to automatically detect user needs and formulate search queries – or even act directly. This advancement, towards more spoken and thus more complex search queries, ensures an increasing relevance of its contexts. Contextual, “unique” content with significant benefit is becoming increasingly important for websites. Structured data makes it easier for artificial intelligence to more quickly identify relevant information in the network.
Keeping up with this development is crucial to maintain prominent visibility on the internet: in a classic search-engine usage scenario, a maximum of the first 10 search results will be of importance to the user. In the future, the language assistant may list only the two best search results.
But does this mean the end of classic search engine optimization or the relevance of domains?
Why domain names continue to remain relevant
Of course, microphones in smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, and other devices will not completely replace the keyboard and screen as input devices. Even though the spoken word will control an increasing proportion of search queries in the future, the user ends up at a web address at the end of his search with quality of that domain name influencing decision making and SEO results.
Once users arrive at a website and value the given service, they may return for similar needs or recommend the site. Catchy and easy-to-remember domain names make it easy for them to do both. Especially with regards to the cutthroat competition at the shrinking top of the internet search bar, existing customers, returning prospects and word of mouth help with setting up a successful permanent personal user base.
Also with regard to the voice trend, a short, concise and distinctive domain name is indispensable. For example, 2fast4you.net has in theory so many possible spellings, the room for error is immense when voice input artificial intelligence while car.com is by comparison succinct and easy to remember.
In closing, while the rising relevance of voice and AI searches is impacting the way we think about search engine optimization, domain names remain an important factor and their importance will not be waning anytime soon.
Written by Tobias Flaitz, Chief Executive Officer at Sedo Holding AG