Voice searching for healthcare on mobile device

Where would we be without Siri? Or Alexa? Or Google Assistant? These AI assistants are part of our daily lives, helping us find directions, telling us the weather and playing music on command. Via smart devices, like phones, watches or through Bluetooth speakers in the home, people have immediate access to search for anything with only their voice. That also means marketers have a sizeable opportunity to engage with their customers through voice search.

According to a PwC report, 71% of consumers say they would rather use their voice assistant than type a query when searching. The same survey found that consumers used voice search when they couldn’t type, like when cooking, multitasking or driving.

What does this mean for healthcare marketers? Here are three changes you should consider.

Start the conversation

Voice search queries reflect how we speak. How someone phrases a question out loud differs from how they type it into a search bar. Therefore, your content and keywords should be conversational. Think about both which questions your patients (or potential patients) are asking and how they are asking them.

Let’s say someone is concerned about stomach symptoms. The typed search would probably read “pain, stomach, right side,” whereas the voice search might sound something like, “What does it mean if I have pain on the right side of my stomach?” Use questions like these as your keywords to drive patients to your content. And be sure to use patient-friendly words and not just medical terms (“stomach” instead of “gastric”).

When it comes to your content, frame your responses around these spoken questions. And then answer them in a concise, conversational way. This conversational response should include your general content as well as FAQ questions on your site.

Think local

Many consumers rely on voice search when they are on the move. They use it for local searches, including directions, contact information and services. So, make it easier on your patients by regularly updating your Google Business information. For example, when someone uses voice search to find your hospital or practice, they’re probably looking for details like your address, phone number or hours.

Keep this information up-to-date by claiming your Google My Business listing and reviewing it regularly. A device’s location often dictates voice search results. So, your updated address will help boost your search rankings for nearby users. Keeping these essential pieces updated can also make it easier for eager searchers to find you, especially since people using voice search frequently do so to get a faster result.

Be mobile

Stay mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendly content is (hopefully) already embedded in your digital strategy. However, it’s even more important for voice search since it mostly happens on mobile devices like smartphones, watches and tablets. When selecting keywords and preparing content, consider a mobile user’s situation when they use voice search. To the points above, mobile voice searches often take the form of local questions (“Where is the nearest hospital?”) or conversational queries (“Why does my head hurt?”).

Read some of our tips on how to make your content mobile-ready, including creating concise content and optimizing for page load speed. You can also use Google’s free test to see how your site measures up.

And don’t forget about choosing effective SEO keywords.

Looking for help communicating with your audience?

WriterGirl is here for you! Our team of healthcare content experts can work with you to craft custom content and campaigns that fit your organization’s voice and marketing needs. If you want to learn more, we’d love to talk.

Editor’s note: This post was updated on February 8, 2023. It was originally published in December 2017.