Technology

New SEO secret: We don’t speak in keywords

Conversational searches are shaking up SEO

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This is the third installment in our series of real estate search engine optimization (SEO) articles, and I promised last time to tell you about localized and mobile search. There’s one powerful trick you can use to help you better compete with the big websites.

Want to beat out the search results from the big sites like Zillow, realtor.com and others with national coverage? Then think in terms about what people might say — rather than type — into a search engine box.

Put yourself in the place of a first-time homebuyer searching Google with a laptop for the best real estate agent in your town. You might type something like “first-time home buyer realty Denver.”

But Google’s continuing improvement of conversational search and consumers’ increasing use of mobile devices open up a whole new world of search functionality.

Most of us prefer the more natural interaction of talking to our devices rather than typing on them — especially if our devices are tiny and mobile, with tiny touch keyboards and built-in microphones. Therefore, the buyer speaking her search would likely say something like “Who is the best Realtor in Denver for first-time homebuyers?” Search results in Google are highly customized to the individual these days, so our example buyer would most likely find what I did when I posed the same question:

google-microphone-search

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The top three results are local real estate agent sites — and one made the first position!

Give it a try yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.

How many consumers are actually using Google and other search engines this way? Well, a recent article at SearchEngineWatch.com tells us that 4 out of 5 consumers conduct Web searches on mobile devices, around 88 percent on mobile phones and 84 percent on tablet computers. So “conversational search” changes the game and levels the playing field a bit.

Don’t get me wrong: Keywords and key phrases are still valuable. But they’re more about typing than talking.

Spoken search, however, is allowing much more information for Google to use when finding the best sites because consumers use more words in conversational search than in typed search.

As always, SEO comes back to content — lots of it — and it should be content that answers questions. Make your content conversational and less keyword-focused, and you should begin to see positive results.

Peyman Aleagha is CEO of WebsiteBox, a Toronto-based company that offers real estate websites and tools.