How to Prepare for Voice Search
Voice Search – Our Guide
The popularity of voice search is expected to dramatically increase in the coming years. SEO analysts expect that 20% of all search queries will be performed using voice search by 2020— a significant increase over today’s levels.
Industry analysts like Gartner suggest that websites that are optimised for voice search will benefit substantially from this change. They estimate that early adopters supporting visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by as much as 30%.
But how do you adjust your SEO practices to prepare for voice search? In this article, we’ll explain why voice SEO is becoming so popular and how you can update your SEO strategy to accommodate this change.
What is driving the move towards voice search?
Consumers are becoming accustomed to using voice commands to interact with their electronic devices. This has largely been driven by virtual assistant technologies like Amazon Alexaand Apple’s virtual assistant “Siri”.
These technologies allow users to ask questions and give commands using their voice. The device then retrieves information, performs an Internet search, or fulfils a specific command. Most users find this type of technology very useful, particularly when they are on the move and unable to type search queries.
Google jumped on the voice search bandwagon in 2014, when they released Google Voice Search. This technology was integrated across numerous Google platforms including Google Android, Google Searchand Google Chrome. Users were able to perform voice searches using their desktop computer, smartphone or tablet with Google Voice Search. Google also released theirGoogle Homeelectronic assistant in 2016, which includes voice search capabilities.
The types of functionality provided by voice search and virtual assistants has continued to grow over the years. It is now possible to perform searches, book concerts, buy products, book flights and perform many other useful tasks using voice commands.
By 2017, 35.6 million Americanswere using their voice-activated assistant device to perform searches at least once a month. This generated an estimated $1.8 billion in eCommerce sales, which is expected to grow to $40 billion by 2022.
The advantages of voice search are numerous:
- Voice search allows users to perform searches while mobile
Users can perform a search while walking on the street, exercising, driving a car, or from the couch. They don’t have to look at a screen, they simply command the device to find the information they need and receive an immediate verbal response to their query.
- It’s easy to instantly get specific information
The voice search technology provided by companies like Google, Bing, Apple, and Amazon is very sophisticated. It can pinpoint specific information much faster than a user can when performing a normal search.
- Users can perform searches
For most people, it is much quick to speak an SEO search query than it is to type one — particularly on a mobile device. The ease-of-use of voice search has helped it quickly increase in popularity.
- Easy to incorporate voice search into a daily routine
Many users are now in the habit of waking up and asking their virtual assistant or voice search-enabled device for the day’s weather. The convenience of voice search quickly makes it a part of a person’s life. This will ensure the wide adoption of voice search is maintained.
- The answer is immediately read back to the user
Most virtual assistant devices will immediately return the results of a query using audio. This means the user doesn’t need to scan multiple search results to find the information they need.
What does voice search mean for SEO
Voice search will have a dramatic impact on SEO. Here are a few ways that voice SEO will change how people search online:
People will use longer conversational phrases
When humans ask questions of each other, they are typically asked in in a conversational style. For example, a person will ask “How do I make the best Italian style pizza dough?”. This is very different to the way most people person type a search phrase in Google to obtain the results they desire.
Searches will be conducted from more locations
Voice search allows users to conduct searches while at home, in their car, while exercising, while in a restaurant and from many other locations. This will have an effect on the types of questions they ask. Instead of “pizza store Wembley”, they might perform a voice search for “What is the best pizza near me?”. The device will provide geo-data to help the search engine find the right shop.
The types of results that are returned will change
The way that search engines respond to a voice search is very different. They will attempt to provide the information in a verbal manner in addition to providing results on a screen. That means the search engine is looking for results that provide a clear answer. This means your website’s content should give direct answers to direct questions.
Preparing your website for voice search
Work on local SEO
The majority of searches performed using voice search on mobile phones are local searches. That is — users on a mobile device are trying to find information relating to their specific geographical location. These kinds of searches are often performed by people looking for a local business that offers a particular kind of product or service.
It will be crucial for your business to rank well for local search terms if it wants to be included in the results for a geo-specific voice searches.
Some of the steps you can take to improve local SEO include:
- Keep your Google My Business page up to date with the correct contact details and operating hours.Check that this information is consistent across all websites.
- Use structured markup data on your website
- Concentrate on earning positive reviews and rankings
- Create content that is useful for your local community
- Participate in social media including any local Facebook Groups
- Create neighbourhood specific landing pages on your website
- Obtain links on community websites and on the websites of other local businesses
Target question phrases using natural language
Currently, Google does not include the search terms that people use when making voice searches in Search Console. This means that SEO analysts cannot know with any certainty which terms voice searchers are using.
However, it is fairly easy to predict the kinds of phrases that a person on voice search will use. In most cases, they will use questions and not statements, because that is how most people communicate when talking to a person (including virtual people like Siri). That means they will use “When is the best time of year to visit London?” instead of “Tourist season London”, or “How hot is it in London today?” instead of “London temperature”.
Concentrate on phrases that use natural conversational language like “Where is the best…”, “Where is the closest.. “, “How do I start a…“, “Who was the first…” and so on. These kinds of sentences will often be used by consumers using voice search.
You can optimise your website for voice search by adding these kinds of phrases to page titles, headings, alt-tags, meta data, and content. The challenge will be finding phrases that work well for both search engine bots and humans using voice search.
Target long tail keywords
Most of the queries performed by voice search users will be long form questions, so it only makes sense to target long tail keywords. Don’t be afraid of going for very long tail keywords that have 6 or 7 words, particularly those that are in question form.
Add short, concise answers to your content
Search engines looking for the answer to a user’s query will be interested in a shorter answers. That’s because in most cases, the answer is being read back to the user. They don’t want to sit through a 100 word answer. Aim to answer simple queries in 30 words or less.
Create content for featured snippets
Featured snippets are used by Google to provide quick answers to a user’s question. They are displayed above other search results in a separate box. To get your content listed in a featured snippet:
- Create contentanswer specific questions
- Provide high-quality answers
- Use questions that users often ask
- Use question-and-answer pages.
Add some frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages to your sit
FAQ pages are now back in vogue because they perfectly match the requires of voice search. Search engines will find it very easy to index the content on a FAQ page and transform those short answers into voice search query answers for users.
Keep your language simple
Search engines will prefer voice SEO responses that can be listened to and understood immediately. For this reason, you should use very simple language and use short sentences.
Perform other standard SEO optimisation
A number of other standard SEO optimisations will remain effective for voice search, including:
- Increasing domain authority
- Improving page speed
- Having a lot of content on your pages (1500+ words per page)
- Use video content
Thanks for reading Voice Search And SEO! Hopefully, this article has given you some useful tips for preparing your website for voice search. For more useful SEO articles subscribe to the site or follow me on social media.