Why You Should Care About Voice Search in 2018
In the past few years, search engine technology has evolved, with updates from Google and Bing improving their search engines to help users find the best personalised results. One of these updates is voice search. Thanks to AI assistants like Alexa, Bixby and Siri, searchers can find content on search engines with voice search, positioning it as the future gold standard for search protocols.
What is voice search?
Voice search involves using your voice to conduct an online search via a compatible device. The device carries out the search query or answers the question just like someone who typed it into the search box. It burst into the limelight after Apple launched Siri with the iPhone 4 in 2015. To use voice search, click the microphone icon on the search bar and Google translates your speech to text. Search is usually more effective when it’s a short inquiry or in question form.
There was a time when no one really paid much attention to voice search. Users complained that results were poor, and webmasters said it was difficult to use. Not anymore. Google stated in 2016 than 20% of mobile queries are from voice search and that number has been growing consistently.
The four types of voice search query
Educational content: Users looking for specific information that answers a pertinent question, so they can they read or do more research about it.
Location queries: Includes “near me” searches and recommendations such as “best bowling alley in Sydney”.
Activity queries: Searchers looking for new ideas and inspirations. Search mostly leads to actionable guides.
Purchase search: A search people make when they want to make a purchase decision. They conduct thorough research to learn more about the product or service.
The importance of voice search to webmasters and digital advertisers
Increased visibility on featured snippets – Google Assistant and Google Home read snippets from sites ranked in position zero with a featured snippet. Articles about optimizing for featured snippets have increased by over 178% in the past year. Voice search queries help marketers to understand the types of queries on featured snippets. To reach position zero, you can now provide more detailed answers on the most commonly featured snippets.
To maintain your website position, Kieran Ried, SEO Account Executive at www.openhost.co.nz suggests that you’ll have to optimise for natural patterns instead of keywords. “Long-tail phrases will become more relevant than individual keywords. When people conduct a voice search, they won’t just say hosting, but find a web host near me”, Ried explained.
Interesting statistics to note
Over 60 million people in the United States alone use a digital assistant
By 2020, 30% of all online searches won’t involve a screen
50% of searches will be voiced by 2020
How to optimise your website for voice search
Use structured data
This is a great starting point for those who write content only for their audience. Search engines use several factors to determine page relevance and position. Professional SEOs use these factors to optimise their website content for search engines. Structured data or schema markup is one of those factors that give you a competitive edge, but it doesn’t have a direct impact on rankings.
You can use schema to obtain an attractive result on SERP and enable search enhancements. Microdata ties into voice search because, when someone is looking for a local restaurant, they’ll look for contact information, operational hours, ratings, address and directions. Microdata ensures your information is classified by search engines.
When conducting a voice search, you will be very specific to ensure Google brings up the right related information to your search query. So, it’s important to have user intent in mind when structuring your website content. You should provide as much information that makes it easier for Google to crawl and parse your content. Essential information should be written in HTML not hidden in images as it could harm your visibility.
Claim your Google My Business Listing
It’s clear to see that most voice searches are local queries, so it’s important that your customers can easily find your service. The site footer is in the best position to share your business information. When a user searches for a service or business in an area such as “Chinese food delivery in Perth”, websites optimised for local keywords appear higher in search results. If the user searches “Chinese food near me”. Google uses location to find the nearest Google My Business listing related to the user’s search query.
Faster loading websites have an edge
Backlinko analysed the PageSpeed of over 10,000 Google Home Search results and found that voice search results load faster than most web pages and the time it took for a search result page to load fully was faster than most pages by 8.8 seconds.
With Google’s recently unveiled speed update, page loading speed is more important than ever. Google prioritises websites that provide answers to questions in the fastest possible time. Optimise for voice search by speeding up your page loading speed.
Google wants voice search results that are brief and to the point
It’s sort of a similar approach to Featured Snippets, says HubSpot’s Director of Acquisition, Matthew Howells-Barby. Google announced it would include more than one Featured Snippets in SERP for complex queries, which indicates more barriers to earning clicks where the snippets provide a satisfactory answer that doesn’t require a further search. Backlinko’s study also found that the average voice search answer is 29 words.
Optimise your content
If your content is subpar, even with a fast loading site, you won’t rank well for voice searches. Conduct a content audit to determine which articles need tweaking, updates or repurposing. Expand short articles, focus on creating evergreen content and regularly update information to reflect voice search trends. New content should target long-tail keywords that offer more relevance to user searches. Similar to voice searches, it should be natural and conversational.
While it might be difficult to predict future trends in voice search, we can determine today that its growth is not slowing anytime soon. Marketers who want to stay on top should optimise their content and adjust their SEO strategy in a way that incorporates voice search optimization for top SERP rankings.
If you need to supercharge your website’s SEO, Cornerstone Digital would love to put together and implement a strategy for you. We are a web development agency in Sydney. Call us on 02 8211 0668, email us at [email protected] or complete our online enquiry form.
A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.