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SEO and Voice Search for Healthcare

by Trenton Reed   |   Jun 19, 2019

When’s the last time you performed a voice search on your phone or other smart device? You may have to think hard about this question—because voice assistants has become so normalized. Whether it’s asking Alexa about the weather in the morning, or using Siri to search for local pizza delivery from your couch, the act of using a voice assistant has become increasingly commonplace.

For years, there has been talk about the impending voice search uprising. But the reality is that the technology is already here. And it’s making the world an easier place to live in. So, what does voice search look like in 2019 (and beyond)? In addition to impacting consumer technology, it's making waves in healthcare and beyond.

Consumers want quick answers. They want convenience. Oftentimes, they’d rather talk—than type—on their phones. Because healthcare is driven by efficiency and accessibility, it only makes sense that voice search lends itself to this industry. It's a tool that healthcare marketers can leverage to improve the user experience of their consumers.

Voice search is about delivering accurate information to patients of all types. And like it does with organic web traffic, search engine optimization (SEO) helps improve the quality of voice assistant results.

So, what does this mean for your healthcare organization?

That SEO and voice search go hand-in-hand (more on this later). But before we dive too deep, let’s review some of the ways that the technology can help create a better healthcare experience.

Voice search allows people to locate local healthcare providers.

In 2018, 58 percent of consumers used voice search to find local business information, with 46 percent using it daily to search for them. Obviously, voice assistant technology makes online search more convenient for patients. But it also has the potential to make an ever greater impact. Hospitals like Northwell Health in New York integrate with Amazon Alexa to provide localized emergency care information, including ER wait times and addresses, in real-time

Voice search helps patients feel like they’re talking directly to a doctor.

According to Google, 41 percent of people who use a voice activated speaker feel like they’re talking to a person. This can make accessing important healthcare information easier and more accurate. By closing the gap between smartphones and their users, patients can engage with their devices in a way that’s comfortable and familiar—such as direct communication. And they can receive answers to specific questions.

Voice search increases access to healthcare facilities for all.

Voice search not only makes life easier. It makes effective communication possible for people of all ages and abilities. For example, disabled patients who may be unable to use a smartphone keyboard or device can use voice activation tools to communicate with healthcare facilities. Similarly, injured patients can use the technology to call an ambulance in times of emergency.

Voice search increases the customer experience.

The future of voice search is promising. Patients may use the technology to book appointments and communicate information to emergency dispatchers. However, organizations like Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) are already leveraging voice assistant technology to improve the inpatient experience. For example, these tools enable inpatients at BIDMC to send requests for nurses or ask about meals.

How do you optimize content for voice search?

SEMrush recently studied the impact of voice search. It’s a fantastic guide that seeks to understand how Google Assistant selects answers and how different devices impact results. The study included the following findings:

  • Nearly 80 percent of answers are from the top three search results
  • Almost 70 percent were found within a SERP feature
  • Pages with faster loading times and simple, readable content performed best

It’s worth noting that the most successful voice queries were easy to read. According to this logic, 80 percent of Americans should be able to understand your content. Interestingly, voice searches are also longer than text queries, with averages at 4.2 words for the former, and 3.2 for the latter. This is due to the concept that these searches are inherently conversational—and that users generally talk naturally to their devices.

SEO and voice search reward in-depth content that answers specific questions.

Much like your consumers, search engines are looking for organized, well-written content that serves a purpose. It’s essential to deliver content that’s readable and discoverable. Incorporating SEO tactics into your healthcare content marketing strategy—including long-tail keywords and conversational language—increases the chances that your content is discovered by consumers performing a voice search.

Have you incorporated a voice search content strategy across your organization? We’re curious to learn more about your experiences!

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portrait of Trenton Reed

Trenton Reed

Trenton joined the Workshop Digital team in January 2019. After earning his B.A. in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, he moved to Denver, where he explored the Rocky Mountains and built a writing career that spanned the digital marketing, advertising, and journalism realms. Since relocating back to Richmond in late 2017, Trenton has freelanced with local agencies and national nonprofits. As our in-house writer, he’s in charge of maintaining our brand voice across all channels.