Voice Optimization- A New Frontier for SEO In 2020
December 15, 2019
Article Overview10min read
How often do you make a voice search with the help of Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) like Siri or Google Assistant?
When Apple introduced Siri in 2011, as a virtual assistant in iOS, iPad, watchOS, macOS, and tvOS operating systems, a lot of people were mystified. The assistant’s natural language user interface answered questions, made recommendations and performed actions on request from the user. Fast forward 8 years ahead.
Today, Siri, Cortana and the relatively latest entrant Google Assistant have become a part of daily life for many.
With the rise of IPAs, more and more people have shifted to the use of voice queries on search engines. While you are all familiar with a normal ‘Google search’ where you type in your query (keyword text search) and get website links as answers, voice queries are like a two-way conversation. This is why users look for direct answers rather than the relevant links being shown up on the search results page when they do voice searches.
But do people use voice searches that often? Let’s take a look at the available statistics.
According to North Star Research Study commissioned by Google, 55% of teens and 41% of adult smartphone users do voice searches more than once a day in 2015. Over these past few years, the numbers have likely improved massively. And unlike what we previously believed in, these statistics show that we’re on the brink of an enormous change in digital marketing-where voice searches and personal assistants have started disrupting the landscape we are all familiar with.
So, what does this mean for marketers?
With the percentage of search engine voice searches on the rise, digital marketers are presented with a new challenge as well as an opportunity to revamp their SEO strategy. This is further fueled by the projections that by 2020, half of all internet searches worldwide will be voice or image-based.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of voice searches. Brace yourself for SEO strategies that are going to rule the search engines.
Power to context
We know that previously, keywords were thought to be the backbone of a good SEO content. Placement and concentration of these words ensured that the Google algorithm ranked the particular piece of content above others for search queries containing the said keyword.
With the release of the Google Hummingbird update, “semantic context” came into prominence and has since then been a crucial component of content marketing. This increased the importance of context and the use of long-tailed keywords. Marketers no longer need to depend solely on the keywords and could use natural language that gave ‘intended meaning’ behind the searcher’s query. For this reason, it has become necessary to adopt a more ‘conversational’ language when creating content, which will help Google’s algorithm to tag the content for the intended context.
Length of voice search queries
Statistics show that the global market for voice search devices grew around 187% in the Q2 of 2018. During this time, one important thing that got noticed is that successful voice search queries getting the most impressions and clicks contained 3 words, which is much shorter than natural speech.
However, this data is not definite as users started adopting voice searches quite recently. Both the search engine algorithm and the searcher’s habits are continuously evolving, giving rise to lengthier queries and better search results based on the context of the speech.
Similar to the query length, another thing that needs special mention is the increase in the use of question phrases. Words like “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and “how” were used at a higher probability while making voice queries. It is interesting to note that these phrases occur more in natural conversations than when typed into the search engine, which could be one reason why voice searches have more questions.
How can content marketers leverage this?
The easiest way is to include question phrases in the content you publish on the internet. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) is one such content form that can be easily pulled up by search engine during a voice search.
Once again, this is not a hard and fast rule. The reason why questions dominate voice searches is simply because of correlation. As searchers and Google’s algorithm evolves, other types of searches may come to dominate the results.
Content structure matters
Writing good and naturally flowing content alone may not cut the search engine to rank your page. The structure of your content also matters a lot.
As discussed, FAQs are a great way to structure your content while publishing it on the internet. At the same time, content marketers must focus on creating content that is ‘Google featured snippets’ friendly.
You might have already noticed that Google’s search results are now showing listings where a snippet describes a page content before the link to the page is given. These featured snippets are determined by Google’s algorithm, where relevant content is pulled from different parts of the internet to answer a particular query. This not only helps text searchers find exactly what they are seeking without clicking on a link, but also those who are on mobile and searching by voice.
Featured snippet texts are most often clear and concise answers to most common queries that people have while searching for something on the internet. So, to increase the change of your content to get featured as snippets, ensure that the text you put together answers searcher queries.
Invest in local SEO
Most businesses have a very vague idea about their digital marketing opportunities. Digital marketers like us, on the other hand, know exactly what a business needs to be seen on the first page of Google’s result page during a normal or a voice search.
A lot of people depend on voice searches for local information. Questions like “Where am I?” “What are the things to do here?” are very common, especially when users are in search of a place or business in a particular location. This, in turn, means on thing- it’s time to revamp your local SEO.
From experimenting with keywords containing local landmarks and neighborhood places as suffixes to having a local listing on Google My Business, there are quite a few things that businesses can do to stay visible and relevant locally.
Being able to rank locally on Google can also have a direct impact on your business. Studies show that 18% of all local mobile searches lead to a sale within a day, which in turn shows a searcher’s natural tendency to visit a local business that comes up in a Google search.
While there are many types of queries that may never come up in voice searches, it does make sense to optimize your website for voice searches, even if it is for limited topics. Like everything in the digital marketing space, voice searches also have a long way to go. With more and more users using conversational style searches, it is best to structure your website contents accordingly.
Remember- just like IPAs and Google is reshaping search habits, the user’s real-world needs also matter when it comes to visibility on the internet. Businesses can start by polishing your content strategy and improving your local SEO for staying relevant every day now.