While it may feel like we have been speaking and talking to our mobile phones for many years already, voice search is a relatively new concept in the world of search engines. Voice search has soared in usage to the point of becoming quite indispensable, especially with the rate of growth in voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home and the Apple HomePod.
There is something that might not be very clear and is still very much in murky waters, and that is the degree to which voice search affects search engine optimisation (SEO). The question many are asking is whether there is, in fact, a vast difference between keying a search request into a device or just voicing it out. They will also wonder if the search results differ in any way and how websites can be technically prepared in order for voice searching to be effective and efficient.
Why is Voice Search Becoming Popular?
Starting out as a novelty just a few years ago, voice search is now being seen as becoming an ever-present part of our daily lives. Research shows that more than half of all search engine queries are made from mobile devices rather than laptops, desktop computers, and tablets. There are a few reasons why voice search has gained popularity, and these include:
- It is much faster and easier than typing. Furthermore, it can be used by those users with disabilities such as visual impairment or dyslexia etc. It eliminates an element of frustration for able and non-able users.
- It has a higher level of accuracy with fewer mistakes made from typing errors.
- It is convenient and enables the user to multitask by allowing them to operate their mobile device whilst engaging in other activities such as cooking or watching television.
Users of a younger generation are more inclined to use the voice search function for even the simplest of tasks, whereas adults use the function for more practical purposes. However, if this trend continues, voice search will rapidly become the most dominant means of performing Internet searches. It is inevitable that companies will have to learn to become agile and have the ability to adapt quickly to these ever-changing trends in order to shape their SEO strategies to the evolving technology.
The use of voice search has made it more effortless and simple than ever before to do online searches. What we know now is that voice search has altered a number of things about search queries, and we will discuss below what some of the most notable differences are and how these trend shifts have occurred since voice search began to be the new normal:
Use of conversation over keywords
When users are keying in a search, their entries are typically short and to the point, using only perhaps single keywords in the search box rather than full sentences. When the user is making use of voice search, they tend to use full sentences as if having a conversation rather than listing a few keywords. So how does this affect the architecture of SEO? Well, you would have to ensure that you optimise your content not only to target keywords and short phrases but also by using long-tail keywords that reflect the natural conversational tone that people would use when speaking to each other.
Local searches are more popular and common
Users, more often than not, would search for companies or products and services within their local community and surroundings, and therefore the information retrieved from vocal searches is required to be more localised. Hence, if companies wish to thrive during the era of voice search, they need to optimise their content for local searches where possible.
Users making use of voice search are more likely to want to make a decision about something whilst searching. A mobile device, along with voice search, enables a higher response rate and facilitates easy searches, and therefore micro-moments are now more common than ever.
Optimizing for area-specific searches is the best way to attract potential visitors who are looking for products and services “near me.”
SEO for Voice Search
The hot topic at the moment for companies is how exactly they can customise and perfect their content in order to make it more tempting and engaging to search engines. Voice searches can make this process seem almost impossible to achieve, and that’s where SEO becomes more intricate and challenging. There are, however, some strategies and practices which can be used to boost the chances of remaining as visible as possible within the local search engine results when it comes to a specific industry or topic.
These would include:
Ensuring your content is mobile-friendly
It is most common for users to be retrieving information on their mobile devices, and therefore it is absolutely necessary to ensure that your content is easily found and viewed on a mobile device. Ensure the information is displayed neatly, correctly, and in the way, it would be seen if the user was using a desktop computer. Equally important is ensuring your site does not slow down or freeze when it’s being visited on a mobile device. – Targeting local results
Optimising your site and content so that search results fall within a specific geographical area is extremely important. The users who are searching for content are less inclined to visit pages whose owners are far from them or beyond their reach. They would want fast results and only for their geographical location. You could be losing large amounts of traffic to your website if your location is outside of the region within where the search occurs. Do not forget that this will need to filter through your site, on each and every page, in order to be effective and for you to benefit from the searches made.
Optimising Google My Business listing
If you want to do well in Google’s rankings, you should make sure that Google has the information it needs to list your company accurately. If you haven’t already, you should claim your Google My Business listing and make sure that all of the information it includes is up to date. The more specific the information you provide, the more likely your business is to appear on the high end of the Google search results when somebody does a voice search for a company in your area.
Study your search results by using analytics.
Online analytics tools have had a major effect on the way many companies think about SEO. While Google doesn’t yet provide analytics related to voice search, you can see all of the queries that have brought visitors to your site. If any of the queries are conversational in tone rather than keyword-focused, it’s likely a sign that you have been getting a lot of voice search customers.
Including answers to popular questions
Users frequently have questions, and often the questions are about the same. Including a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) section on your site will help users navigate through the content much easier. You will, in turn, gain their trust, knowing that you have taken the time to answer their questions before they were actually asked. If a visitor is unclear about the content, they will more than likely not return to your site or recommend your product or service to others.
This is a smart voice search SEO strategy, as you will be including phrases that potential viewers are likely to use in their search, which again will translate to an increase in traffic to your site. Ultimately, you can boost the chances that any given internet user will be stumbling across your website in the process of searching.
Always ensure that your content is easy to read and understand rather than overstimulating your viewers with jargon and content-intensive complex pages. Convoluted content can leave viewers puzzled, causing them to abort the viewing of your content and rather go on to look for other search results which may have appeared. Do not flood every landing page with statistics and figures, but rather make sure, as far as possible, that the writing is straightforward, concise, and clear. Give your viewers a good reason to stay on your site and recommend your product or service by letting them be able to easily move from one page to the next.
So how does voice search affect your business? Although it has yet to be factored into Google’s official algorithm, voice search is still dictating the results users search for, which are often different from those they would have gotten had they chose to key in their query instead.
That means your business’s SEO strategy will need to keep up with the voice search component if you want to continue netting the consumers who are now mostly switching over to voice-assisted searching. It also means your content will need to be more direct and conversational to match the types of voice search queries. Traffic is an important aspect in netting consumers, and the only way to boost traffic is by becoming more visible and credible, both of which can be accomplished by optimizing your site and content for voice search queries ahead of your competitors.
The bottom line is that you have to remain current with the technological trends of voice search and not put yourself at risk of falling behind your competitors, who might have already made the necessary adjustments.
Engage a digital marketing agency today to help you put together a comprehensive SEO strategy for your business that takes care of all the aspects from mobile SEO to voice search SEO.