I’ve been doing PPC management for 11 years (since 2006) without ever claiming “SEO is dead.” So what’s changed?

Last month, I was at Turing Fest and listened to Rand Fishkin and Wil Reynolds talking about voice search.

Rand told the audience,

Voice search that shows text results – great! That’s just more things to SEO and PPC for.

Voice answers? That scares the crap out of me. It should scare the crap out of everybody in here.”

Why should it “scare the crap” out of us?

It comes down to one thing …

You can glance down a search results page in a couple of seconds, but you can’t read it aloud in two seconds.

This means voice answers will, by necessity, give far fewer results.

How are they going to choose which results?

Let’s look at different search types and guess how Google will handle them.

If it’s an informational search, all evidence is that Google will simply take the information from websites and read it.

Too see an example of this in text results, do a google search for “when did dinosaurs become extinct.”)

What does the website owner get in return? If he’s lucky, Google might mention the name of the site. Big deal.

He won’t get is the opportunity to serve ads to that searcher – so no ad revenue.

Nor will he be able to cookie the visitor and retarget them. And the searcher won’t see sidebar content the site owner uses to monetise his business.

(For example, affiliate offers, email sign up boxes, or links to related articles.)

So, basically, Google steals his content and uses it.

What about products and services?

If you’re looking for a local Italian restaurant, Google might give you a choice of two or three. But you can be pretty sure that those listings will come from ads, not organic.

(And organic only being used when there aren’t enough advertisers – like if you want an Ethiopian restaurant in Dundee.)

In big verticals – like flights – Google already has its own comparison listings. So it’s likely they’ll expand on those, earning affiliate commissions – another form of “pay to play.”

So what’s left?

There’s b2c ecommerce. Google has a couple of options here:

#1: Read two or three options from Adwords shopping ads.

#2: Do affiliate/joint venture deals with major retailers – e.g. Amazon – and get the results from those. If that happens, then small retailers will get cut out unless they sell through those retailers.

Finally, there are complex b2b products and services. Because these tend to involve complex buying processes, they probably won’t suit voice search. So I’d expect those will still be done via text searches.

So that’s all pretty gloomy. Maybe there’s a ray of hope. After all, how popular will voice search be?

How popular will voice search be?

I’ve been in this game long enough to remember people saying that no-one’s going to buy anything on their mobile phones.

Well they – and me – were wrong about that.

I look at how much money Google and Amazon are spending to win the voice search wars and that tells me they believe there’s money to be made. A lot of money.

What will this mean for your business?

It depends on your business model …

If you’re a content publisher who makes their money from ad revenue, I think your business model is probably doomed. Sorry. (Unless you can get people to pay for the content.)

If you’re a local business, then I’d suggest you figure out how to dominate your competitors with PPC. (Also, start collecting lots of customer reviews – they’re going to be incredibly important.)

And, if you’re in ecommerce, figure out how to do more with less.

Ask yourself, how do I make 20% more money with just 80% of the visitors?

That might sound hard to do, but it really isn’t. If you don’t believe me, check out my free book, “How to dominate your market with search engine marketing.”Chapters 13 to 21 are all about how to do this.

All the best,

Steve Gibson

Categories: SEO