Is your company ready for the next big thing in SEO? What if we told you that by 2020, up to 30% of all website session activity will occur without using a screen? Voice search is the reason why. The technology allows users to browse the web and access information without having to comb through websites using a PC or mobile device. Brands that can see the future are preparing for it now. The million-dollar question is: will your company be among them?
Voice Search Explained
In the simplest of terms, voice search technology allows a person to speak directly into a device instead of having to query by typing in a keyword. This level of speech recognition is possible through current audio technology that can understand what users are saying with extreme precision.
This isn’t new. Speech-to-text has been operational for quite some time. There are programs like Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa, all of which operate through voice search technology. The good news is that multiple devices and brands can be optimized for voice search.
Voice Search and SEO Rankings
Anything that can improve a user’s experience will impact SEO rankings. As a result, 2020 will be the predicted year that online searches will begin with voice search. Of course, Google is already placing emphasis on voice search optimization. Think back. Google never changes its philosophy of making the user’s experience the best one possible. Search engine optimization exists to help rank websites accurately. The goal has always been to help users find the products and information they need in the shortest amount of time possible.
The thing for marketers to remember is that SEO for voice search and SEO for a traditional website are two different things. There are factors that can affect website rankings that may or may not have a similar effect on voice search. This also applies vice versa. The key is to balance both SEO strategies so that you can rank for voice search and typical search listings.
How Do You Optimize for Voice Search?
No matter your SEO goal, here are several recommendations to help improve your rankings for voice search. Keep in mind that users employ voice search when hoping to complete some type of action, gain information, or purchase a product. Here are some voice SEO tips to follow:
- Make sure your website loads fast, because Google’s voice search favors those pages. Optimize images, compress files, and employ other methods that can help speed up your website.
- Write content for search in ways that people often speak. For voice search, you may have to use long-tail phrases. Your users may ask a question differently. For instance, users looking for a digital marketing company on their laptop might query, “top digital marketing companies.” That same user may use voice search and ask more specifically, “What are the top design companies in the city of Los Angeles?” When doing voice search optimization, always consider long-tail keywords. Just make sure your content is always relevant.
- The average voice search is around 29 words. So how can you up the odds that Google will identify your content and read it out to voice search users? Featured snippets is the answer. Featured snippets work well for traditional searches and can benefit you just as well for voice search. Include a short summary above the webpage fold. Use your long-tailed keywords for the content of the featured snippet.
- Local search is still a critical component of SEO. As much as 22% of all voice searches are for local products and services. Invest in local content and your chances of landing more of those voice-search customers will increase. Include the words “near me” in your local content.
Voice Search and the Flow of Traffic
While it appears on the surface that it doesn’t move the needle in Google Analytics reporting, voice search can and does drive website traffic. Google will read voice search listings and respond, “According to ____.” If Google mentions your site in its shout out, there’s a possibility of increasing awareness for your brand. Users can also take time to scroll through search result dictations and examine the links offered.
While voice search can help increase brand awareness, you can’t view voice search rankings because the technology hasn’t caught up with the demand yet. Rest assured that someone will come up with a breakthrough. A company called Roast has already designed some automation software that allowed them to run queries on a voice search topic and provide some initial reporting.
Here’s what you can do to prepare for something we all know is surely to come: Keep using tried and proven methods to optimize for voice search and SEO. There are best practices that apply and will continue to be relevant. In time, you’ll be able to review concrete reporting that will help guide further improvements on your end.
Voice Search Popularity
There are now more than 400 million devices in use that offer voice search technology. Half of all teens in the United States use voice search daily. Adult usage isn’t far behind. As technology increases and people become more comfortable with it, user engagement will continue to increase.
Small businesses, especially, can take advantage of voice search by considering the following:
- Remember that voice is becoming more prevalent for local products and services. Consumers like the idea of learning more about a business without having to pick up a phone.
- List your business in every relevant online business directory. Many popular devices seek directories for information first.
- Always answer a person’s questions before they even ask. Think of their questions and provide answers.
Get ready for the next big thing in SEO. If you’re not in front of the curve, you’ll fall behind. If you’re behind the eight ball, you don’t have a clear shot. Partner with SEO experts and watch your traffic and conversions grow by leaps and bounds!