Before we deep dive into what Voice Search SEO is, we need to investigate and understand if voice search is really going to be a user’s first priority in the close future. By 2025, are we really going to see a tectonic shift that will be dominated by Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, and Google Assistant? Or has the voice search already started dominating and will be a user’s first preference by 2020?
Well, let’s have a quick look at some statistical data:
- As per a survey conducted by Google, people have started to prefer voice-enabled gadgets even for very basic searches such as ongoing deals and promotions, upcoming events, open hours of local stores and so on.
- As per the stats shared by Google, approximately 41% of adults and around 55% of teens use voice search on a daily basis.
- An important study shows that the voice search eCommerce has generated almost $1.8 billion via Amazon revenue. Not only this, the experts are hoping that by 2022, this figure can touch the benchmark of $40 billion.
- As per Apple, more than 500 million users pro-actively use Siri across a wide-range of devices that include iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and HomePod devices.
- Also, one important factor that cannot be overlooked here is the ease of usability. Vocalizing a query and typing long phrases on a laptop or mobile device are very different scenarios. The rate at which the result is returned is also different in each case. Voice search has proven to be way quicker than traditional search techniques.
These findings and trends very well showcase that the internet user’s intent is very rapidly moving towards voice search. This also makes it more competitive for websites trying to rank on top.
How does voice search affect SEO?
Let’s dig deeper into some voice search SEO techniques and understand what voice search SEO is.
- It’s all about the fight for position “ZERO”:
- No mobile friendly site? You are out of the competition!
- Slow site speed can set your SEO efforts back
- Seek searcher satisfaction to make the most of your SEO strategies
- They want prompt and accurate answers.
- They enjoy the conversational aspect of voice search.
- They don’t want multiple options. They just need one informative, correct and reliable answer.
- Your new mantra? Be conversational!
- Make use of “near me” in your titles, meta tags, descriptions, anchor text, internal links and so on.
- Mention the local institutions relevant to your business.
- Include phrases that are most commonly used to describe the neighborhood around your location.
- Use the names of landmarks around your business in your content.
Every time a user enters a query, there are a few results that appear above the first search result. These are usually a summarized answer to that query, also known as a featured snippet. As voice searches become more common, Google uses featured snippets to provide the one true answer to the respective queries. And only the strongest webpage is able to serve as this one true answer, thus occupying the proverbial position zero- a ranking above position one.
In order to be on position zero, your site and webpages need to be relevant to the query. You’d surprised to know that these featured snippets are generated organically. So, your content stands a higher chance of getting the limelight if it is ranked in the first page, consists of relevant information and contains a substantial, usefully formatted answer.
Quick Tip: CONTEXT is the King Now! Use a conversational tone and always think from a customer point-of-view, thus, providing answers/solutions to the visitors of your site.
One of the most evident facts is that the voice searches started happening over mobile devices. That being said, it has become one of the primary pre-requisites for the websites to be mobile-friendly. And this becomes mandatory for situations where-in non-responsive or non-mobile friendly sites can face a lot of hassle in even getting cached and indexed on Google. Thus, to rank high and get closer to position zero, mobile-friendliness for sites is non-negotiable.
A recent analysis of potential voice search rank factor shows that voice search results load 52% faster than average pages. Obviously, users expect quick answers and quick search results when looking for information on the go. This expectation is further increased in case of voice searches. That is because most of these searches are related to finding directions, timings, reviews and other quick information. And most of the users have a clear intent while performing these searches. So, if your site takes too long to load or if your content is not structured well, it can hamper your ranking in more ways than one.
Your keyword research and market analysis should be preceded by a focus on searcher satisfaction. This rule applies not just to general SEO practices but more importantly, to voice search SEO as well. It is crucial to understand the kind of voice search queries and relative expectations in order to incorporate the necessary developments into your digital marketing strategy.
We know for a fact that voice search is on the rise but it is more important to understand what goes on in the minds of those who use voice search regularly.
You need to ensure that your content covers all of the above in order to meet the average searcher satisfaction standards. As stated earlier, you need to work towards being a featured snippet with the use of conversational language and content that is informative and authoritative at the same time.
It is important to understand the psychology of a user typing a query vis-à-vis a searcher asking Siri or Alexa for information. In the first case, a person makes use of short phrases and incomplete sentences in order to save physical effort. However, in the second case, a person is having a conversation with a virtual assistant! Also, AI tends to get smarter with every conversation. So, naturally, voice searches are comparatively longer, consisting of more conversational words and complete sentences.
The bottom line is, you need to think the way your audience speaks about your business and related services/products. Accordingly, you should make use of long-tailed keywords that are best suited for text-based queries. Also, you need to remember that 22% of voice search queries revolve around local content (according to Internet Trends Report 2016). Again, you need to get the keywords right if you wish to leverage this common searcher trait. Use the following 4 points to get started:
In addition to strengthening your content with the help of keywords, you also need to strengthen your local listing. Using structured data, claiming your Google My Business listing and getting more mobile friendly are the most essential elements to keep in mind in this regard.
The universal basics of SEO that apply to voice search strategies as well
All your SEO efforts would be in vain if your basics are not covered. In order to ace voice-search SEO strategies, you need to be a master of general SEO principles first. Apart from that, you need to remember the following 3 points.
- Technical SEO still matters
- Multi-lingual SEO is on the rise
- Content is king but not without context
A lot of the voice assistants pick up their answers from the top search engine results. So, the better your site is for SEO, the higher the chances of it being optimized for voice search as well. There are numerous technical SEO strategies that you could embrace. A speedy mobile experience, appropriate HTML headings, structured schema markup etc. are just a handful.
If you wish your business to establish a sure footing in multiple countries, you might want to look at multilingual SEO optimization as this is the key to making your website culturally accepted in all countries.
As the modish proverb goes “Content is king. Context is the key to the kingdom!”
You always need to keep in mind that “search” as a phenomenon has undergone drastic changes over the decades. Gone are the days when keywords were the only thing you had to worry about. Today, Google is producing results based on user intent which means if your content is loaded with keywords but lacks context, it is pure trash. Your focus should be to answer the burning question “What does my target audience want from me?” The idea is to focus on the user and converting them into a devoted client.
The popularity of voice search is witnessing a constant upward trend. So, from a futuristic perspective, it is important to take into account your voice search SEO priorities and aim for staying on top at the textual as well as the spoken front over the internet.