According to Google, 50% of online search will be conducted using voice search by 2020. As a business, are you prepared for this shift in SEO? Do you need to start implementing voice search into your digital marketing strategy today?
The answer to the last question is yes. The key purpose of your website is to enable potentially interested customers to find and purchase your products or services. If your customers are using voice search to find what they are looking for, then you need to be using voice search too.
Staying ahead of the competition gives you the advantage. In this blog post will find the answer to questions such as, ‘what is voice search?’ ‘Do I need voice search for my business?’‘How do I optimise for voice search?’ and ultimately a brief overview of how voice search will impact your business.
What is voice search?
Voice search is where a person uses their voice via a device such as a phone or home assistant to search the Internet. Essentially, instead of typing a query the person will simply say it out loud into the device for the search engines to recognise.
With the introduction of assistants and smart speakers such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s new HomePod, voice search growth statistics have skyrocketed. Such products are becoming increasingly popular which means voice search is on the rise too. The simplicity and convenience of voice search also suggests that it’s here to stay.
Is voice search essential for my business?
Voice search has definitely evolved over recent years. Just as 2020 seemed like a lightyear away so did voice search, but now both are luming in front of us. Voice assistants such as Siri makes it easy to get answers quickly, from finding places to eat to the nearest supermarket, there’s no denying the convenience of voice search.
And as regular users embrace voice search to make their lives easier, marketers are also embracing it as part of their comprehensive digital marketing strategies. With the way voice search is evolving, it wouldn’t be wise to deny its place in the marketing world. So, if you’re implementing an SEO strategy into your business, it’s time to consider bringing voice search to the party.
How does voice search work?
Voice methods allows users to use a voice command to search the Internet, specific website, or app on their mobile device or computer. The inbuilt speech recognition technology in the devices enables them to understand what we are saying with great accuracy.
Instead of typing our search requests into Google, we are now simply talking into our devices, like phones and home assistants and getting the answers or results we want, quickly. Our phones will usually display a relevant website or answer whereas smart speakers are more likely to read the information back to you.
The difference between voice search and traditional search
Generally, people speak differently to how they write. This means the search terms will be different depending on how someone searches, as a result, your content needs to be optimised both for traditional means and voice means. Voice optimisation needs to be implemented to respond to the new trend for voice commands.
The fundamental differences:
- The length of the search query. When we type a search query we will usually use short keyword phrases such as “digital marketing benefits”. However, if we use voice search we are more likely to use long tail keywords and phrases such as “what are the benefits of digital marketing for my business?”
Your SEO strategy needs to reflect both short keyword phrases and long-tail keywords and phrases to maximise your results. As a general rule, voice searches are about 75% longer than text based searches.
- More questions than statements. We are more likely to use voice search to ask a question, whereas when we use text, we normally use around 3-5 words in a statement format.
- Stronger intent. After you optimise for long tail keywords, you will likely target a more niche section of your industry. However, the intent is very strong. The benefit of this is that you know your content is relevant to their needs.
- Increase in local search. We are three times more likely to use voice for local queries and location specific searches.
Why should you use voice search?
While the digital world constantly evolves, the staying power of Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Home shows no signs of slowing down. This means voice search needs to be part of your digital marketing strategy. Our devices are so entwined with our lives that it makes voice searches more important than ever. With the adoption rate of all demographics increasing. According to research by OC&C, 55% of households are expected to own smart speakers by 2022.
And if all that wasn’t enough to convince you to implement voice search into your strategy then think about this: Optimising your site for voice search will improve user experience – that’s a big tick from Google. And because Google aims to give its visitors the best experience possible, it is already placing a higher emphasis on websites with voice search optimisation. This means that websites that are optimised for voice search are ranking higher in the results.
How do you implement voice search?
Voice search optimisation and regular SEO are relatively similar. The biggest difference being something that we have already mentioned; the length and format of the search query. But the end goal is always to deliver the best result to the user based on relevancy and location. That being said, there are a few differences to consider.
Website load speed
While page speed can impact your SEO generally, it’s especially imperative that your website loads quickly when optimising for voice search. Most people doing a voice search are using a mobile device, and a big ranking factor for mobile is page speed. Users want and expect information quickly. If you want to improve your page speed try implementing the following:
- Optimise website images
- Compress large files
- Limit the amount of plugins
- Ensure code is clean (no excess)
- Ensure your website is mobile friendly and responsive
Ensure content is written in a conversational tone
As we have already mentioned a couple of times, the biggest difference between voice search and traditional search is the wording. For example, when people type a search query, they may write something like, “best marketing agency Birmingham.” However, when they use voice search, it will likely be more conversational. So the search term will be longer and look more like this, “What are the best marketing agencies in Birmingham?”
Your content needs to reflect this by using long-tail keywords. And remember that most users will ask a question so lean toward questions rather than simple phrases. You might be surprised to learn that the average voice search result is 29 words, so go for gold when you’re optimising your content.
Aim for featured snippets
Featured snippets, also known as position zero or answer boxes, are the summary answer from a web page that appears just after paid ads but before organic search results. They provide easy-to-read and reliable, informative answers. And more importantly, digital assistants like Siri or Google Assistant read them out loud when asked questions.
Featured snippets have a huge impact on voice search, which means it’s a good idea to optimise your content to garner more snippets.Optimising for a featured snippet is also like optimising for voice search. Instead of just implementing keywords into your content, your aim is to try and answer your users’ most frequently asked questions.
Your content should be broken down into short sentences and paragraphs with around 40 to 50 words. Google will also pick up H tags and bullet points when delivering voice search results so keep that in mind when creating your content.
Focusing on local searches – especially if you have a brick and mortar business – can massively help your voice search results. More than 22% of voice search queries are people looking for location-based answers to questions such as, “What are the best restaurants near me?” If you invest in local content like this, you are more likely to rank higher in the results. For best results use phrases like, “by me,” “near me,” “close to me,” or words of a similar nature.
How to optimise for local search?
Firstly, you need to develop your “Google My Business” and update your local listing ensuring that it’s accurate and consistent across all platforms. As we have established, most voice search queries are location based, so if someone searches “best restaurants near me”, you need to show up in the results as Google will instantly track the user’s location and make suggestions for relevant nearby places.
The words “near me” is a keyword that is universal and one you should always keep in mind when optimising for voice search.These two words will always be picked up by Google’s voice search algorithms if you are listed on Google My Business.
Your profile needs to include your name, email or address and phone number so that users’ can find you and contact you. And, by making this information available, you are helping with ranking your site with Google in the local search world. Your aim is to be listed on Google’s Local 3-Pack.
Does every business need voice search?
The only way to really know if your business will benefit from voice search optimisation is to give it a go. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You will also see how you fair against your competition and get a better understanding of long-tail keywords along the way.
Voice search offers you another marketing tool, which can only be a good thing. And, if you can get ahead of your competition you will reap the benefits down the line.
By optimising your site for voice search you’re also giving your users a better experience which Google will reward you for. Keeping in mind key factors like website speed, featured snippets, local-based questions, and a conversational tone, will ensure you see the results you want.
With voice search showing no signs of slowing down it’s a great time to get the ball rolling with your voice SEO. It’s only a matter of time before voice search devices are a staple in every household, just as we saw the mobile phone become an everyday necessity. With that in mind, it’s inevitable that there will be big changes in search linguistics.
If you are a local business owner, it’s especially important that you consider implementing voice SEO content into your marketing strategy sooner rather than later.
Here are a few tips for implementing a quality voice search strategy:
- Analyse the keywords that are currently effective in bringing people to your site then turn them into long-tail keyword questions.
- Evaluate your website to ensure you are delivering the best user experience possible (including the quality of your content).
- Create fresh and relevant content that includes long-tail keyword phrases.
- Create an FAQ page, here you’ll be able to capture long-tail keywords in a natural tone.
While it’s still important to ensure your website is optimised for regular search, keeping up to date with emerging trends is extremely important if you want to maintain a good SERP rankings and stay ahead of your competition. For local businesses, voice search is something that should be embraced as the return is far greater than the investment in time and money.
Voice search is fast becoming a part of everyday life for the majority which means it’s a great idea to make it part of your marketing efforts. Keeping up to date with the right information and implementing voice SEO now will ensure you’re one step ahead of the competition and that you maintain your Google ranking. It may mean investing some time and optimising old content but the outcome will be worth it.
As a society we are busy and generally impatient, voice search is quick, easy and extremely convenient so it’s not hard to see why it’s infiltrating our lives. Take the steps now to a voice optimised website and protect your business from digital evolution.
If you would like help understanding the benefits of voice search optimisation, advice on how to get started or how it can help your business, please call Sarah for more information on 0870 062 8760 or email her today on firstname.lastname@example.org. AIM Internet is an expert social media marketing agency that specialises in online business, it’s in our favour for your business to succeed. So if you’re asking yourself “what can digital marketing do for my business?” Get in touch today.