How to Prepare Your Higher Ed Website for the Rise of Voice Search

Carnegie Higher Ed Mar 29, 2018 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Since their initial release, voice search assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana have seen increased usage every year. In fact, a couple of years ago, Google’s CEO said that 20% of searches on their mobile app or Android phones were voice search (and we know that number has grown!). As high as that volume of searches may be, that percentage doesn’t even include searches performed on voice assistants, of which an estimated 10–12 million devices were sold last year.

So how big of an impact will voice search have on higher education?

While other industries such as retail and dining are more clearly affected, the growth of voice search has a place in education too. Prospective students can search for programs, look up directions, call the admission office, and ask about colleges close to them. Asking Siri “What are some colleges near me?” will give three nearby colleges provided by Apple Maps. Some components, like distance to the person searching, can’t be helped. Other things—like SEO, for example—can improve how frequently voice searchers will end up on your website.

Here are three tips for keeping your college or university ahead of the curve on voice search results.

1. Keep your local search platforms updated

Is the phone number, address, and website on your Google My Business updated? If not, prospective students may receive incorrect information from the search results. Some of the most popular question formats include some form of “where,” “what,” and “when,” so having your location, keywords, and hours listed will help improve your visibility with voice search.

2. Continue optimizing for keywords

Almost 75% of voice search results from Google Home came from the top three organic pages in the search engine results page for a given keyword. If your website’s pages have been written with SEO in mind, then you’re in good shape. If not, voice search only reinforces the importance of doing keyword research and implementing the most searched-for words and phrases into your content.

Long-tail keywords play a significant role in how people use voice search. Instead of aiming for smaller keywords such as “MBA,” optimize a page for “colleges with an accredited MBA program in Massachusetts.”

3. Make sure your site is mobile optimized

As mobile devices continue to improve how voice search functions, students continue to expect websites to load at a reasonable speed. In addition to enhancing user experience, Google has stated that page speed is a ranking factor in its algorithm. A recent study on voice search even noted that the average voice search results page loads in 4.6 seconds. Making sure your pages load quickly and are mobile responsive will not only keep students on your site but can also help your school climb to the top three positions in the search engine results page.

Want to learn more about how your college or university website can be optimized for voice search or search engines in general? Reach out now.

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