Listening to Patients Through Voice-Activated Search

Why take time typing your query into a search engine when you can just ask instead? The ease and convenience of voice-activated searches has grown so popular that by 2022, more than 6.4 billion people worldwide are estimated to use the technology. Among the most common uses for voice-activated searches are finding music, weather details, and information about a business, but the use of voice search for healthcare-related topics is also on the rise. Here are the reasons why voice-activated search is gaining momentum, and what facilities, hospitals, and medical practices need to do to communicate better with patients and prospects.

Talking Back to Patients

By 2022, nearly 302 million people in the U.S. will have a smartphone and 55% of all U.S. households will have a smart speaker. As of January 2021, 5% of all Google searches were conducted to find health-related information, and the journey from inquiry to appointment is often guided by online research. However, the shift from typing a query in a search bar to using a voice-activated query is increasing. According to this report from Chatmeter, a local search marketing firm, 19.1 million people already use voice-activated search on smartphones, smart speakers, and wearables to find healthcare information about illnesses and symptoms; medications; hospital or clinic location; and finding a provider.

Voice-activated search is convenient, easy, and hands free, making it a natural extension of all online searches. For hospitals and facilities, the rise of voice-activated search provides another way to connect with patients and prospects. The key is finding out how they’re using conversation to search – and then using those same terms get their attention.

SEO Success

People largely use a search engine to find local and customized information, so to improve your ranking, start with the search engine optimization (SEO) basics. Always include the specific hospital or facility address, accurate Website URL, hours of operation, and service areas, and reviews. (94% of patients look at reviews.)

With voice-activated search, the ability to target key terms is greater because users can implement conversational language with more detail, so websites need to be optimized for voice search as well.  Research shows that the average length of a voice search is 29 words, which makes long-tail keywordsimportant. While long-tail key words generate less traffic, their specificity offers a greater chance of convincing the prospect to become a patient. Here’s the basic difference between typed and voice searches:

  • Keyword search: Symptoms of the flu
  • Voice-activated search: Alexa, what are the basic symptoms of the flu, how many times can you get it, and how do I know if I have it?

Use Your Voice

As the technology for voice search improves, so will the ability to use conversation to find the providers. Remember that today, about 7.5% of adults in the U.S. use voice search to uncover healthcare information. As the number of users rise, so will the number of searches. And as we seek more convenient and accurate ways of procuring information, voice search will become one of the most important capabilities for patients and providers in the coming years.

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