Remember the days when people looked absurd when talking to themselves thanks to Bluetooth headsets? Now, we assume they must be wearing AirPods and take no notice. Leaving those actually talking to themselves to do so in peace (a win for those of us who like to give ourselves impromptu motivational speeches). Now speaking to your device as if it’s your pal is becoming the norm too!
According to Think with Google, 27% of the global population is using voice search on mobile. As we are a lazy species, we tend to gravitate towards convenience. Meaning voice search is a trend that is here to stay and will revolutionise how consumers search, consume and interact with the web as a whole.
What is voice search?
You already know what voice search is if you are familiar with Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. It is just like using a search engine but rather than typing it into your device, you ask the question to the ‘voice assistant’ instead. By using speech recognition to understand what you are saying, it then runs an algorithm to search for the answer in its database or internet search. The most notable differences between text search and voice search are:
- It’s faster: Unless if you are some kind of speed typing Olympian, speaking is faster than typing.
- It uses longer queries: When typing a query we tend to use as few words as possible. Similar to someone learning a new language. For example, ‘sushi near me’ as opposed to ‘mmmm I’m hungry, where is the closest sushi restaurant?’.
- Better local results: As people generally use voice search for everyday tasks such as the weather and directions, it has a local focus.
- More human: Because we don’t speak like we type, using voice search has a lot more human touch. It understands our natural language and replies as a human would. Does anyone else get creeped out by Siri’s “hmmm?”?
How does voice search affect SEO?
Search engines such as Google make changes to their algorithms daily. Each minor change will usually go unnoticed and allow marketers to make small improvements to adapt to the changes. But the disruptive force of voice search on SEO will require massive changes to strategies.
The focus on keywords will become less relevant as conversational search terms take over. The use of semantics requires search engines to understand the meaning behind words. And the overall user experience will dictate the success of content rather than keyword ‘stuffing’.
This major shift in the industry can be scary for brands and marketers alike but it can also be a great opportunity. If you follow these steps you can set your brand up for success and be in a better position as the ‘voice-age’ unfolds.
5 Steps To Optimise For Voice Search
1. Restructure Your Content
Features snippets provide easy-to-read answers for digital assistants. 40% of voice search results are also found in Google’s featured snippets. To optimise featured snippets one can begin by formatting them as structured data. To showcase the value of your content use bullet points and numbered lists, tables, and schema markup.
2. Use Conversational Tone for Content
The drive for a more human experience is at the forefront of Google’s SEO strategy. Using conversational tone is the main characteristic of voice search and is something we must leverage to see the best results. Understanding the searchers intent is necessary to identify how queries for your brand will be asked.
- What is the user’s conversational style?
- What type of questions are being asked the most?
- What keywords are being used?
- What answers are best suited for the queries?
Understanding this information will allow you to create the most concise answers and in a tone that will match your user’s language. This will improve the experience for the users and create better engagement.
3. Optimise for local search
Search for local information is three times more likely when using voice search. Meaning those ‘near me’ searches should be a priority of our focus. Especially for small local shops, restaurants and services. Ensuring your Google My Business profile and any other business listing sites are up to date. And optimising your keywords for queries that local people may have about your business will increase your local SEO footing and improve voice search results.
Optimise your content to answer users’ search queries. You can either do this with a FAQ page or structuring your content like an FAQ page. Using questions as heading with keywords and providing concise, informative and entertaining answers below. Not only does this boost user experience but Google will recognise this content as succinct and of value.
5. Focus on Mobile
Google’s emphasis on mobile experience has been a priority for several years. To succeed in typed SEO mobile-friendliness is a must, but as voice searches are primarily on mobile it’s now a do-or-die situation. Ensure your website is mobile responsive, run regular mobile-friendly tests for optimisation and ensure sites are crawlable.
As a general SEO best practice, mobile optimisation is something you need to be on top of.
Voice search is on the rise and is essential to maintain and grow your organic traffic. It is changing how people search for information and the search engine algorithms will change with them. The good news is that user experience is now the priority. As we are humans, learning to create a human experience will be a lot easier than the previous need to please the robotic needs of the algorithms.