In this day and age, finding information is easy and is literally a click of a button away for most people. You just open a web browser on any device, mobile or otherwise, and you type in an enquiry and Tadaa! Millions of results show up.
However, you don’t even have to type anything in anymore. You can use voice search instead. With AI-powered voice recognition tools such as Google Assistant and Siri, voice search is becoming more important than ever.
In 2021, 42% of voice recognition users used it at least once every day to perform a search. That number was just 25% the year before. Voice search is becoming more and more important to the point where it is changing the future of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as we know it.
Long gone are the days when you had to only optimise your content for regular (typed) searches. Nowadays, content must be tailored to both regular and voice search users or else you might potentially lose a huge opportunity. Stay with us to learn more about how voice search is changing SEO.
The rise of voice search
Voice search and voice technology, in general, has been around for a while. However, it wasn’t until 2010 that the technology started to grab the attention of people around. This year marks the introduction of IBM’s Watson.
Watson is basically an extremely powerful (at the time!) voice recognition computer system that is able to answer any question thrown at it. It stunned the public at the time when it beat Trivia grandmaster on the popular TV quiz show ‘Jeopardy’.
It only took a year for the giants Google and Apple to follow suit. The former released Voice Search while the latter rolled out Siri for their iPhone 4S line-up. Then came Microsoft’s Cortana in 2014, quickly followed by Amazon Echo.
Most of these new technologies were, of course, targeted at customers of these tech corporations, and they came to be known as “personal assistants”.
Last year alone, 58% of consumers in the U.S have found local businesses using voice search. That number isn’t far from what you would find here, in the UK.
And as we have mentioned above, voice technology has been drastically improving with each passing year. It is evolving so quickly that it is starting to impact Search and Search Engine Optimisation in a significant way.
How voice search is changing SEO
Voice technology is transforming our different interactions with technology and the Internet as we know them. But, what impact does it have on search engine optimisation?
The first impact of voice search on Search Engine Optimisation is keyword length. This is because spoken language generally isn’t as concise as the written word. This means that queries made through voice search tend to be longer than the two to four keyword searches that marketers are used to. According to research done by the people over at Backlinko, voice searches currently average around 29 words in length per enquiry made.
For example, let’s say you want to know how to make iced coffee. Instead of typing in “make iced coffee” in Google, you would say, “Hey Google, how do you make iced coffee at home?”
What this means is that if marketers don’t want to lose the voice search market, they need to start using more long-tail keywords.
How voice search is changing SEO: Keywords nature
When we say keywords nature, we’re referring to the way an enquiry is made. Is it a simple phrase? Is it a question? Does it use words such as “who”, “where”, “what”, etc?
People who use voice search usually rely on a lot of questions. And what this means for you is that you need to start including interrogatory statements in your content.
Moreover, you have to keep in mind that when voice search answers your question, it only provides you with a single answer instead of showing you a page full of search results (most of the time, of course). This means that your research into your target audience and the questions they usually ask needs to be very thorough.
Here’s an example:
If the user is looking for a location or a service, Google’s assistant will directly provide a list of the nearby GMB listings that match the description. Here are some examples:
When most people use voice search, they speak to their virtual assistant as if they’re a fellow human. This means that they would not only use longer sentences but also conversational, casual ones. According to Google, almost 70% of requests are made to its Assistant in natural language.
Dealing with this is quite easy. You just make sure to avoid any kind of overcomplicated words, jargon, that is. Try to also avoid the serious, corporate tone that some businesses use. It won’t get you anywhere, even if your focus is solely on regular searches and not voice ones.
Say, for example, your business offers car maintenance services. It would be more effective to go for keywords such as “why won’t my car start?” or “what is wrong with my headlights”? instead of “car doesn’t start” or “fixing headlights”.
How voice search is changing SEO: Local search
As we have mentioned above, local search is perhaps the most affected type of search by the rise of voice search. Why? Well, people just happen to prefer searching for businesses locally using voice.
Dealing with this is quite easy. You should just optimise your content in a way that it attracts any “near me” queries. You could also support your website by using Google My Business Page. See below for more.
Page load speed
Page load speed is one of the most important factors in search engine optimisation. No one likes a website that takes a while to load, especially search engines themselves. And when we say a while, we mean anything more than three seconds.
So, it comes as no surprise that the loading speed of your website and the pages within it are also crucial for voice search. The better performing your website is, the more likely it will rank high, which in turn affects your chances of ranking for voice enquiries.
Google My Business page
One of the main factors that determine whether or not your page will rank for a local search is the Google My Business listing. Indeed, this is one of the easiest and most effective ways of getting noticed by your target audience.
However, in order to get the full potential out of this, you need to optimise your content in a way where any information about your whereabouts is complete. You should let Google know where your business is exactly located. Include your name, business category, address, area code, and phone number.
Lastly, add some images to your Google My Business page and make sure that they are of good quality. Moreover, include an image of your business from outside (the street). This is necessary because it helps users to find exactly where you are in case their maps app lets them down.
Always keep in that the majority of voice searches happen on a mobile device, and most mobile users would prefer images over blocks of information.
How voice search is changing SEO: Mobile-friendliness
Most voice search enquiries are made on mobile devices. Additionally, Google has publicly insisted on mobile-friendliness in general. This is mainly because their indexing and ranking of content on a website happens primarily on the mobile version of said content.
In other words, if your website isn’t optimised for the mobile experience, you have little to no chance of ranking first in voice searches, even if you’re the sole brand that’s talking about a topic.
Ironically enough, optimising your content for the mobile experience isn’t solely to gain traffic from voice search. With the mobile market having more than half of all organic traffic worldwide, search engines are more focused on it than ever.
In other words, if your site isn’t optimised for the mobile experience, not only will your rank bad on voice searches, but you will also fail to rank for regular, typed searches.
Benefits of optimising your website for voice search
Now that you understand how voice search is changing SEO, here are the benefits of optimising your website for voice search:
- Better rankings
The first and perhaps most obvious benefit of optimising your content for voice search is the fact that you are literally aiming for the top 3 spots on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Why? You might ask. Well, voice searches usually take bits of information exclusively from the top-ranking websites.
- Higher revenue
Better rankings equal more organic traffic to your website, and more organic traffic equals more conversions and conversions equal more revenue (quick maths).
- Better authority
Businesses that rank well for voice searches usually enjoy a gradual yet certain boost of authority to their websites. This, in turn, brings them more organic traffic in the future.
We can optimise your website for you
Optimising your website’s content for voice search can be challenging for new businesses. Fret not, though, as we’re here to help. Contact us today, and we’ll help you optimise your content properly.