When voice search technology came out in 2011, Siri was mostly a fun tool to play with. Voice queries would produce sometimes informative results but also laughable responses. Few people expected voice search to become a major digital trend. In less than a decade those who laughed at Siri’s attempts to understand what users were in need of were proved to be quite wrong. Voice-activated technologies have evolved and their role within SEO has increased significantly.
We interact with digital devices using voice search more than ever and statistics suggests that our digital user experience will continue to benefit from this type of technology:
- 59% of web searches are performed using a mobile device. An important point as most voice searches are performed via mobile devices;
- Voice search is the second choice for mobile search after the mobile browser. The majority of searches are usually done through the mobile browser, with voice searches being preferred to using a phone’s search box or window, search apps, and texting other people;
- 85% of respondents in a survey reported using voice to control their smartphones; the most common actions taken through voice were obtaining directions while driving, making phone calls, sending texts, playing music and checking the weather.
Even though 79% of respondents in a survey conducted by Path Interactive in 2019 were concerned about the privacy implications of using voice search devices, consumers are hooked on voice-activated technology. There is a great deal of people who already have a “voice habit”; they will continue to use this type of technology to control their smartphones, connect devices in their homes, and conduct research on products and services.
How voice search is changing digital marketing strategies
SEO experts are never in lack of novelty in their field, and many have been exploring the impact that voice searches will have on digital marketing strategies in 2020 and beyond. SEO conventions as we know them are constantly challenged by the new voice search technologies. Voice search matters more than ever as Google claims 95% accuracy, and the Chinese iFlytek speech recognition system has an accuracy of 98%. So, what exactly is the impact of voice on SEO? Here are just a few ways that “talking” to our smartphones changes search engine optimisation:
Natural language is favoured
The use of improved voice recognition systems has enabled voice technology to adapt to everyday language use. Users can now give commands as if they were speaking to another human and most language voice searches are made in natural or conversational language. This means that keywords such as long tail keywords for local SEO will be used more often. Businesses will have to take into account the way users ask questions using natural language.
Long tail keywords gain more importance
Since spoken language is less concise than the written word, queries will be longer than traditional three or four keyword searches; voice searches are currently around 29 words long and SEO experts will have to use more long-tail keywords, which then is likely to increase the probability of conversion;
Question words such as who, which, when, where, and how are usually omitted in written searches. However, with voice search they are used as part of natural language. Content should be built in a way that provides relevant answers to voice search queries. Your SEO strategy should make it possible for your website to provide answers to both simple and comprehensive questions. It’s the comprehensive type of questions you will need to focus on as the competition is high for short keywords. Moreover, Google will often provide the required information to the user via featured search snippets, which means that users will not actually access your webpage.
Adapting your SEO strategy to natural language doesn’t mean you will have to include unnatural text in your content keywords. Keywords such as “where is the nearest pharmacy” don’t fit naturally in content and semantic search solves this. Traditional lexical searches that look for exact matches of keywords. Semantic searches are looking to find the user’s intended meaning based on the context (user search history, global search history, user location, etc.)
Prominence of Local Search
Local search is becoming more important with the advancement of voice technology. Consumers are three times more likely to search locally when searching by voice. Your business should optimise its web content for “near me” queries: improving your local SEO performance and adapting your web content to voice search.
How to optimise your website for voice searches
Now that you understand what voice search is and what its impact on your SEO will be; time for some tips:
Claim your Google my Business listing
Claiming your Google my Business listing and optimising it will provide search engines with additional details about your business. This extra information will increase your chances of showing up in results when a relevant voice search is performed.
Read user guides
Technology is very user-friendly nowadays, but official guides still exist and you should read them. Guides for Siri, Cortana, and Ok Google commands are available. These guides provide information on the phrases and questions people typically use for voice search. Google also has a voice search ‘Quality Guideline’ you can consult to improve your voice search strategy.
Add long-tail keywords into your web content
The fact that people use natural language when performing voice searches makes the targeting of long-tail keywords a must. Think about the kind of spoken questions that might bring others to your site and observe how people speak and how you perform voice searches yourself. Include real speech into your content and use tools like Answer the public to discover what users are looking for.
Create FAQ pages
FAQ (frequently asked questions) pages are content that uses long-tail key phrases and offers search engines the best chance of obtaining information from your website. Write a list of direct, long-tail questions and create individual pages and content snippets centred around specific semantic questions to take your website to the first positions on search engine results pages.
Make your content easy to read
People who are performing voice search on their mobile devices are looking for content that has been optimised for smartphones. Mobile-friendly content should be easy to read and not have annoying pop-ups preventing users from getting the desired information.
The world of search keeps evolving and your SEO work is never over. Adapting to voice search can represent a challenge for some businesses as not everyone has an in-house expert to make sure local SEO is well-taken care of and that the company’s website will be easily found through voice search.
This is where Visual Marketing Australia can help; SEO is an important part of our services. The Internet dominates all other media when it comes to decision making and the purchase process. We also consider local SEO as a highly effective form of local online marketing. It allows local businesses to promote their services to local customers at exactly the time they’re looking for your type of business.
VMA makes search engine optimisation and local SEO services easy. They can handle anything from keyword research and analysis to SEO linking strategy and implementation. Contact us today to find out how your business can benefit from optimisation!