Did you know that by January 2018, there was on average one billion voice searches each month, with the prediction of 50% of all online searches being voice by 2020? The statistics around the prominence of voice search speak for themselves (pun intended).
Voice search has been on the radars of SEO, e-commerce and digital marketing companies alike for a few years now, but its growth and importance have rocketed full speed in 2019 and it’s clear that it’s no longer just another trend.
With global online trendsetters such as Google and Amazon releasing their own ‘voice assistants’ (Amazon’s Alexa has sold over 100 million units to date) and the function of voice search built into nearly every smartphone, it’s time for us all to really look at how we can be prepared from an organic search perspective.
How can you strategise now for Voice Search?
Optimisation for voice search is increasingly similar to our trusted and confident SEO, but there are some factors that will make your site stand out more in the race for the spoken searches.
Speak the language
According to Quora Creative, over 20% of voice search queries are started by a mixture of 25 keywords.
It’s an important part of any site’s SEO and user experience – as our content team here at Evolved well know! – but for voice search, you need to take into consideration how users speak and search.
Consider the conversation
Users want fast but specific answers, and now instead of using simple text queries such as ‘nearest record shop’, using speech this may turn to ‘where is the nearest record shop in Newcastle?’. Your content tone and structure should reflect this.
Entire sentences are likely to be used with voice search assistants, just as likely as you would ask someone for directions or what the weather is going to be like in real life. Keywords have always been a focus, but don’t just implement them into content for volume – consider the conversation.
Use colloquial content
In line with the above, content may benefit from being more colloquial and every day, too, if you imagine how you would ask a question to someone in person it’s likely that users are asking questions to voice assistants similarly and will make content flow naturally.
If you know your audience is more informal, your content should be fitting with this. Use tools such as Answer the Public to find out what users are searching, and how you can answer the query.
Optimise for Featured Snippets
It’s becoming increasingly important to optimise your site for ‘position zero’ – the featured snippet box that appears at the top of organic search results.
It’s key to remember that while search engines present several results in text queries, voice search assistants will usually present one spoken answer – usually the featured snippet.
Paragraph snippets are the most common, providing users with a detailed search taken straight from a page, answering their query. According to SEJ, you’re most likely to be featured in paragraph snippets for including keyword terms such as:
- How to do/get…
- Who is…
- What is…
- Why is…
Formatting is crucial, with numbered lists, bullet points, and tables used by Google to present informaton in the search results, as showin in lots of studies:
Be mobile-first and friendly
Google officially announced they will be analysing and ranking all new sites on the basis of ‘mobile first indexing’ from July 1st 2019.
Not only will being mobile first help you scale the search results but can put you in better footing for search engines producing voice search results if you can provide the answer and content quickly. This is especially important for e-commerce in providing a better user experience and in turn, better conversions on multiple platforms.
Know your audience
As quickly as voice search grows, so do the statistics and surveys around what, where and who is using it – so it’s the perfect time to optimise your site and grow your audience.
In a recent study by PwC (snippet above), it was found that the majority of people surveyed would rather use voice search than traditional search engines, with 57% of users preferring smartphone voice search over other platforms.
Who is asking and what do they need?
These early statistics from Google showed that adults mostly used voice search for directions, dictation, and calling someone, whereas teenagers used it for calls, directions, and help with their homework.
Things have developed quite a lot, but the principle is still the same. Knowing your target market is knowing who may be using voice search, their habits, what they need to solve and how they might look for these – and in turn – look for your business without even knowing yet.
Voice search is particularly important consideration for businesses with a brick and mortar presence, in order to capitalise on users searching for places ‘nearby’ or asking for directions.
Schema mark-up is a semantic vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs (Moz). This helps the likes of Google to understand the context of your information and can generate search results with additional enhancements, such as star ratings.
There’s a tonne of informaiton that you can now use within strucutred data, for all types of businesses – including business name, address, opening hours, geo-location, store code, payment types, currencies, and price range, to name a few.
While we can’t predict what search engines will do next, we can see that the use of voice search and assistants will continue growing. Investing time and understanding your audience, including the technology they use, will give you a head start on the competition for voice search adoption that can provide long-term commercial advantages.
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