Technology is constantly evolving, and with that, so does user behavior. One of the latest trends in technology is voice chat—many devices now offer this feature, from mobile devices and laptops, to voice assistant speakers, and even household appliances.
As with any evolution in technology, the more it becomes part of our everyday lives, the more user behavior changes. Voice search has been around for a while with Google, but it has only continued to grow in popularity as more and more people obtain voice-enabled devices.
What does this mean for your practice’s SEO strategy? It means that you need to consider how your patients might use voice search when writing content for your website.
Why Should Medical Practices Optimize for Voice Search?
In 2016, Google claimed that 20% of mobile searches were voice searches. While this seems like a relatively small amount in the grand scheme of things, it is estimated that Google processes about 5.8 billion searches worldwide every single day. Even 20% still amounts to more than a billion searches every day.
Sure, not all of those searches will be related to healthcare, but Google is taking note of the number of people searching by voice and is updating their algorithms accordingly. One of the more recent algorithm updates, called Hummingbird, focused on semantic search and being able to understand user intent. This particular update is especially useful as trends move toward longer-form questions. Previous algorithm iterations were less intuitive with longer search phrases, so this update was done to provide better results for people conducting these types of searches.
If you think about how you search with a voice assistant as compared to actually typing out a search query, your behavior tends to be different. When typing, you tend to use shorter, to-the-point phrases; when using a voice assistant, you tend to use more natural language and questions as though you were talking to a real person. In short, if you want to optimize your content for voice search, you have to consider how your patients speak.
How Can Medical Practices Optimize for Voice Search?
At P3, we have long recommended that practices consider language patients might use when talking or asking about a condition or procedure. This is especially critical for voice search.
Patients do want to know that your practice is very experienced and good at what you do, but this is not the time for medical jargon and complex explanation. That kind of writing has its place in medical journals and other scholarly works, but it isn’t the way your patients speak or understand information. The vast majority of your patients will not have a medical degree, so you need to make sure you are “speaking their language.” This not only helps with voice search, but also with making sure that patients actually understand what you are saying. If patients have to do additional research to even understand your explanations, then you will likely have a hard time convincing them to make an appointment with you.
In the past, SEO has focused on incorporating keywords into content, which in many cases can result in content that reads in a very unnatural way. Search engines are smarter now, especially as voice search continues to grow. Content that is more natural, easy to understand, and conversational in nature is the way to go. As we’ve said for many years now: write content for people, NOT search engines.
How FAQ Content Can Help with Voice Search
More often than not, voice searches are phrased in the form of a question. So, it stands to reason that FAQ content would be a great way to optimize for voice search.
When creating your FAQ content, we recommend starting with the questions you hear the most from patients about a particular condition or treatment. It’s also helpful to do some quick searches to get an idea of what people are searching for online. When you start to search for something on Google, you’ll see some suggestions that pop up, or you might also see a “people also search” knowledge box pop up with more questions. Where relevant, try to incorporate those questions into your FAQ content too.
Once you have your questions, put together your answers and add the FAQ content to your website. If you already have a page that covers the same topic as your FAQs, try to add it there so that all the relevant information on the topic is available in one location. You’ll also want to add FAQ schema to the page code to help signal to Google that it is, in fact, FAQ content. This increases the likelihood that Google will not only recognize this content for voice search, but also for the Q&A knowledge boxes that have become increasingly popular in search results. If your practice’s marketing person doesn’t have experience with schema, we recommend seeking assistance from someone who does—incorrect schema markup won’t help you.
Voice search is just one of the many ways search engines have evolved over time. Like other changes with search, it is important to update your practice’s SEO strategy to keep up, or you could get left behind very quickly.