If you’re anything like the masses, you’ll have already said “Hey, Google?” a bunch of times today. If not, chances are it’s something you’ll come to count on in future.
The enormity of the voice search trend is often underestimated. Though to call it a trend is actually to do it a disservice. Instead, it is closer to an outright revolution – one with huge SEO ramifications written all over it.
Exactly How Big is Voice Search?
The short answer to the question is very big, and getting bigger all the time.
As it stands right now, around 40% of adults and 55% of teenagers use voice search each day. Research from Google also indicates that approximately 20% of all search queries now take place via a voice search.
The rate at which the trend is catching on is phenomenal – up more than 35x since 2008.
But’s what’s even more important is how all indications point to a movement that is here to stay. A study conducted by Geomarketing found that among Amazon Echo and Google Home users, a full 65% said there’s no way they would go back.
All of which suggests that smart speakers will eventually find their way into the vast majority of households. In doing so, they will also become indispensable lifestyle tools for the masses.
By the end of 2022, more than 50% of all searches carried out could be voice searches.
While this does not necessarily spell the death of traditional search, it highlights the importance of a responsive SEO strategy.
Why is Voice Search So Popular?
The popularity of voice search is being driven by three main points of appeal:
- On average, a voice search can be performed approximately 3x to 4x faster than typing in the equivalent search term. For today’s instant gratification culture, this is a big deal.
- Mobile devices are increasingly being engineered to embrace voice control and voice search. Both of which are gradually becoming the norm for most mobile users.
- It is a fundamentally more convenient way of conducting a search. The fact that you don’t have to type or even touch anything apparently holds huge appeal.
When considered from a logistical perspective, the popularity of voice search is easy to understand. Typing “How many calories should I be consuming daily to lose 1kg per month?” on a tiny phone screen while juggling a dozen other things is a nightmare. Speaking the same query hands-free takes just a couple of seconds.
This is a point of major importance, as it is the simplicity of voice search that makes all the difference from an SEO perspective.
When typing in a search term, the tendency is to keep things as concise (and vague) as possible. With voice search, users are instinctively going for much more detail – simply because they can.
Sooner or later, all SEO strategies will need to be tweaked accordingly, in order to remain viable.
Voice Search Optimisation – Key Tips and Guidelines
The benefits of bringing voice search into your SEO strategy should be fairly clear at this point:
- Improved SERP Performance – The opportunity to outperform your competitors by optimising for more natural phrases and queries.
- More Conversions – More traffic to your website ultimately means more conversions, further assisted by your rich mobile-first content.
- Evergreen Improvements – Voice search is here to stay, so there’s no time like the present to get in on the whole thing at ground level.
Mercifully, making the whole thing work need not be as laborious as it sounds. Nor does it need to be hugely time consuming or costly.
Instead, it is simply a case of weaving three equally important things into your SEO strategy for this year and the years to come:
- Question-Based Search Terms
- Long-Tail Keywords
- Conversational Content and Answers
Let’s take a look at each of these in a little more detail:
Question-Based Search Terms
When you conduct a search using a voice assistant, you tend to ask more direct and detailed questions. This is where content based on interrogatory statements can prove invaluable, as most voice searches start with “who,” “why,” “where,” “what,” or “how”.
One of the best ways of finding out what people in your niche are searching for is to (ironically) ask Google directly. Simply enter a question and use the ‘Related searches’ section for an overview of what people are searching for.
You can then base your content on these questions, leveraging the phrases/questions themselves while also providing concise and relevant answers.
Likewise, voice search has a tendency to be far more precise and detailed than traditional search. In fact, the use of short-form search terms and individual keywords is largely non-existent where voice search is concerned.
This provides publishers and online businesses with the opportunity to reciprocate, by going into much more detail with their own content and answers. It also provides the opportunity to gain an edge over competing businesses, as it is much easier to rank for longer-tail keywords.
Most web users type far more formally than they speak. When you type, you do so in a specific way that’s nothing like the way you normally talk. When you speak a query, you do so as if you were speaking to someone you know.
Consequently, conciseness and formality tend to go out of the window with the latter. Something SEOs need to reflect in their own content, which could mean toning down the formality in favour of more casual copy.
Complicated words, technical jargon, sterile corporate spiel – all best avoided, or kept to the bare minimum. To whatever extent is reasonable in accordance with your niche and audience, use more conversational content and keep things simple.
Other Issues of Importance
Each of the three SEO strategy modifications outlined above will need to be continuous, in order to reach fruition. Alongside which, several other issues of importance must be factored in.
All of which are technically extensions of what you should already be doing, though tailored to bring in more voice traffic for your business:
1. Leverage Your Google My Business Page
Be mindful of the fact that a huge proportion of all voice searches carried out include “near me” or other local references. Hence, it is essential that you let Google (and everyone else) know exactly where you are located.
This can also be woven into your content marketing strategy, with the use of local keywords and generally localised copy. Voice search is having a huge impact on the local search market – a trend set to hit its stride this year.
2. Mobile-First Optimisation
The fact that most voice searches originate from mobile devices says all that needs to be said about the importance of mobile-friendliness. If this wasn’t enough in its own right, Google’s new mobile-first index now shows huge preference to mobile-friendly sites.
Ensuring a slick experience for mobile audiences has been important for years. It’s just that for anyone looking to take full advantage of voice search, it’s more critical than it has ever been. Reaching the top of the rankings is simply impossible without a world-class UX for every mobile visitor.
3. Technical Performance and Page Loading Speeds
Also far from a new concept, but of even greater importance in the era of voice search. Google takes no prisoners where a site’s technical prowess and page loading speeds are concerned. Again, it is important to remember that voice search mirrors today’s instant gratification culture.
If your site cannot provide the information needed in a split second, it will be sourced from somewhere else. The ‘three second rule’ continues to apply, but anything close to this threshold and you will forfeit traffic. Your site needs to be as fast and technologically sophisticated as those using voice search to find it.
4. Create Pages that Answer FAQs
Last up, one of the best ways to incorporate interrogatory statements into your content is to create FAQ pages. This way, you can feature the actual questions being asked by your target audience verbatim, while at the same time providing concise and helpful answers.
This is exactly the kind of content Google looks for, when out to satisfy voice search queries. It’s also far easier than attempting to embed questions and variations thereof into your standard web copy. Consider creating a separate FAQ page for each topic, answering as many questions as you can to boost your SEO clout.
Getting on board with the voice search revolution need not be rocket science. The voice search revolution highlights what matters most to today’s web user. Speed, simplicity, convenience, practicality and instant gratification.
If your SEO strategy is already sufficiently robust, it should not be too difficult to make the necessary adjustments. The combination of question-based search terms, long-tail keywords and conversational content holds the key to successful voice search SEO.
For more information on any of the above or to discuss the implications of voice search in more detail, book your obligation-free initial consultation with Tait Pollack today.