Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have noticed a rise in voice searches. Be it on your smart phone via Siri, or at home turning the lights on with Alexa. Voice search is fast becoming integral to our modern way of living. But voice search isn’t limited to just calling your Mum or changing the radio station. Voice search is everywhere, and it’s only going to spread further.
Speech recognition technology has been around for decades. But it’s thanks to recent developments in AI and machine learning that we have seen a huge leap forward in its prevalence.
In fact, several research firms have predicted that by 2020, between 30-50% of all online searches will be carried out via voice search.
So what does that mean for your current SEO efforts? And how can you optimise your content so that it ranks in the voice search results?
What is voice search engine optimisation (SEO)
Voice SEO is the optimisation of online content in order to be ranked in searches when users are searching via voice assistants.
According to SEO experts, if you want your content to show up in voice search results, then you need to optimise it accordingly.
And to put how urgently you need to do this into practice, in 2018 alone, almost 20% of all Google search enquiries were made via voice search. These numbers are climbing as more and more users use their mobile device for online searches. In fact, in 2018, 53% of all online traffic, globally, came through a mobile device. That was up from 50% the previous year.
How does voice search affect SEO?
Some SEO experts have argued that voice search SEO is a completely irrelevant practice. All spoken commands are turned into written commands before they’re processed anyway. Meaning that a voice search will be conducted the same way as if it were carried out from a mobile phone or a desktop.
Saying that, voice search has been shown to increase a user’s UX of the search process. As a result, Google has placed a higher onus on content that has been optimised for voice search – because Google is all about pleasing the end user.
So if you want to please your end users (who want to find your brand through voice search), consider implementing these 5 tips to optimise your content.
How to optimise content for voice search
- Go local. One of the most common voice searches is for navigational assistance. In fact, 22% of voice searches are for location based content. So for local businesses who rely on local customers finding them, the first thing you want to do is sign up for Google My Business. This is a way to manage your presence locally on Google and via Google Maps.
- Utilise long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are phrases that are more common in spoken communications, than written. Include terms in your content that are more frequent in conversations, less formal phrases pertinent to your business. How we write and how we speak can be worlds apart. When we write and read online we tend to prefer short, pithy sentences. For example, when we conduct a traditional online search, we type differently to how we speak.
- For a traditional online search we would just type in ‘voice search SEO’.
- When we conduct a voice search, we tend to use longer sentences, ie ‘what is voice search SEO?’ so include these in your content too, and it will help the spiders index your site.
- Speed up your site. Just as you want to speed up your website to improve UX for the traditional user, so you want to speed it up so that it loads quicker for a voice search. Because once again, Google favours those websites that load faster.
- Make your site mobile responsive. Mobile First is gaining traction and with 50% of users utilising their mobile phones to conduct voice searches, it should come as no surprise to learn that those websites that are mobile responsive will be top of the list in the SERP. Those that aren’t won’t feature. In fact, with mobile first, if your website isn’t mobile responsive, Google won’t even present it to mobile searchers.
- Optimise images. The point of Alt Tags is to be able to present the user with a description of the image, should the image fail to load. And because spiders aren’t visual, they can’t tell what an image is and what it represents. Therefore giving each image a tag enables the spiders to index the image correctly, for the keywords you wish it to rank for. When a voice search is looking for specific images in its results, unless your images have been given descriptor tags, they aren’t going to feature in the SERP because the algorithm won’t know that they’re relevant.
Final thoughts on voice search
Whilst the exact benefits of voice search are still being uncovered, it is known that the proliferation of voice searches is only going to continue growing. So optimising content preemptively will allow your users who are early and mid-level adopters to find you more easily. Plus you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.
Don’t worry. Even if you don’t get results immediately, know this – voice search has been proven to increase brand awareness, increase online purchases and increase a company’s revenue. If that’s not reason enough to conduct a basic optimisation of content for voice search, what is?