Voice search is influencing and will continue to influence how we approach SEO in 2020. Searching with your voice is extremely convenient and is likely to become the most popular way to search for anything online. Voice search used to only be common amongst smartphones, but then came a variety of smart speakers and now voice assistants are taking over.
Voiced-based sales are expected to reach $40 million by 2022. You need to prepare for voice search, and create content that is optimized for it. As you know, the SEO competition is fierce and relentless, the earlier you get ready for a trend, the likelier you are to gain organic traction.
In this article we will cover exactly what voice search is and how you can change your SEO practices to rank higher.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search allows people to speak to search, rather than typing in keywords to bring up a result. Voice search is a dialogue system and is able to understand multiple speech concepts such as gestures, phrases, as well as input and output signals.
The use of dialogue systems is nothing new and dates back to 1977 when US companies looked to develop commercial applications like a speaking calculator. In the past decade we’ve seen different voice assistants come out: Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s voice assistant. When Siri came out in 2011, the assistant was slow and inaccurate. Now, voice assistants have become extremely fast, accurate and can understand a range of languages as well as voice searches with language errors.
Not every voice assistant will react the same to a search: some will display results on the given screen immediately, while others will reply to you. The more natural or conversational tone that some voice assistants have makes them more popular.
Why is Voice Search Increasing in Popularity?
It’s more convenient! There are countless situations where picking up one’s phone or typing is very inconvenient, while we’re cooking for example.
Generally voice search feels more natural and is quicker. Even during standard use of search engines, voice search is expected to be quicker than typing. People don’t want to have to unlock their phone, bring up their browser of choice and type in their search query, when it was only a spoken sentence away. This is the main reason why voice search is gaining popularity and is expected to become predominant in the near future.
Voice Search is Most Prevalent on Mobile
Voice search makes mobile even more convenient. Smartphones gave birth to voice assistants and smart speakers, and mobile users gain the most benefit from voice search.
Compared to any other device, voice search is most prevalent on mobile. Mobile plays a huge part in the search industry; mobile commerce takes a larger chunk of online sales every year. Voice search on mobile will define the future of SEO.
Voice Search Versus Traditional Search
Simply put, speaking is different from typing. When we use voice search, we will generally ask the entire question, when typing we will shorten our search to keywords. Therefore, keywords and key phrases will change and become more conversational.
For example when typing we might search: “quick dinner recipes.”
When using voice search we might say: “Ok Google, give me some quick dinner recipes to make at home.”
Both searches are very different, particularly the length. Length is just one change you’ll have to consider when optimizing for voice search.
Voice Search Optimization Tips
- Keywords as Questions:
Voice search keywords are expected to begin with the following questions: what, why, where, when, who and how. Your keywords you choose for voice search are recommended to be questions in this format.
- Long-tail Keywords
When limited to typing, long-tail keywords were used because they were more specific and therefore more valuable. Furthermore, shorter keywords were a lot more difficult to rank for. Things are a little different now: with voice search, it’s even more important to pay attention to long-tail keywords, but focusing on the conversational nature of the queries rather than trying to drill down a specific keyword-rich string.
- Fillers in Keywords
Filler words that were previously regarded as irrelevant when typing queries have now become more important. Filler words like: “I, the, in, of the, on the, to, for” and so many more. Filler words are used constantly when speaking. Before implementing keywords for voice search it’s important to include fillers: say the query out loud to yourself, ask others to say the query. The fillers that reoccur the most are the fillers that should be in your keyword.
- Conversational Content
Content that ranks high in SERPs is more likely to be that which is conversational. For some content creators, this will be a big relief as they may feel they can relax a bit. For others who perhaps have been doing a lot of technical or policy writing, they may want to restyle.
Positively, natural language is generally more comforting to read. However, what we consider “natural” is also very vague, therefore the scope of what could be searched is a lot wider. Conversational styles from users have a lot of variations, the same question can be asked in multiple ways and the most valuable corresponding answer your content provides will become harder to pinpoint.
The most important thing to understand is the intent of the searcher. Data that allows you to anticipate what query style a searcher is most likely to use is extremely valuable. Data you gather needs to provide an answer to the following:
- What is the most common question keyword being searched?
- What is the most common conversational style?
- What type of answers are the most valuable and being ranked at the top of SERPs?
- The Importance of “near me” and My Business Listings (Google)
“Near me” is a popular phrase people use when voice search: restaurants near me, parks near me, etc. When wanting to rank high in Google SERPs for “near me” searches, a Google My Business listing becomes very useful.
A My Business listing lets Google know—among other things—where your business is located. Meaning if anyone asks a “near me” search query in your proximity, you’re likely to rank. A My Business listing includes your business name, address, opening hours and phone number. Your business listing is also a crucial component in getting positioned in the SEO 3-pack, which is the gold standard for local business SEO.
With voice search, having a My Business listing becomes even more valuable. Not having one means you have very little chance of appearing in localized searches.
Voice Search is Here to Stay
Voice search is rising fast and will continue to become more relevant as we head into the new decade. Major technology brands have been preparing for years, many eCommerce businesses are only learning about voice search now. The earlier you get up to speed and optimize your business for voice search, the higher you’ll rank in SERPs.
Mobile responsiveness, friendliness and loading speed are still a huge part of SEO and will rise in importance each year. Even if your business is voice search optimized, a lack in technical functionality will put all of your efforts to waste. If you’re still catching up in terms of mobile responsiveness, you need to hire custom mobile developers to prepare you for voice search ASAP. If you want the most cost-effective development options, then go for global development companies — Kolkata-based web development company, CodeClouds is a popular choice for outsourcing.