A 2013 survey found that 85% of all online searchers who used their phones were not using Siri or any other kind of personal assistant, but just two years later, a 2015 survey found that 60% of all users had started using personal assistants on their searches. If voice search follows the same development path as many other processes related to online searches, that usage will continue to become far more widespread in the future.
Assuming that user experience gets better with enhancements, and that improving technology increases the appeal of using voice searches, you can expect voice search to outstrip typed searches in the near future. With Google constantly trying to improve all areas of search engine optimisation, it’s fair to say that the searches you conducted yesterday won’t get you anywhere on the Google of tomorrow.
Given the fact that voice searches have now achieved a level of accuracy in the 95% region, it’s only natural that this form of query would see increasingly more usage. Since it mimics the conversational style of communicating, it seems perfectly natural to conduct a search in this way. In this article, we’ll discuss the impact of voice search on the entire SEO landscape and recommend some ways that you can prepare for the fundamental change that’s coming.
One of the biggest differences when using a voice search is that your Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) will attempt to give you direct answers that satisfy your search criteria, rather than presenting you with a list of websites to choose from. There are three types of voice searches, those being informational, transactional, and navigational. Here are how they stack up against each other:
- Transactional – these are search queries initiated for the purpose of doing something, for instance, “Buy a size large pair of socks”.
- Navigational – these kinds of instructions issued to your IPA will result in some kind of redirection to another website, for instance, “Go to the Apple website”.
- Informational – queries like this seek an answer to a direct question, such as “Who won the batting title in the American League in the 1961 season?”
When conducting voice searches, users are far more likely to frame their query in the form of a conversational question. For instance, if you were interested in finding out the Florida weather during a specific week that you’ve scheduled a DisneyWorld trip, you might type in ‘Orlando weather for April 15-22’. If you were to conduct a voice search to get the same information, you might say ‘What will the weather be like in Orlando for the week of April 15th through the 22nd?”
The refinement that makes such voice searches possible is the fact that Google has become much more adept at recognizing context, and that accounts for the significant increase in accuracy of delivered results. Rather than using short keywords of just one or two words, users can now use more long tail keywords and phrases to pinpoint exactly what they’re looking for.
There are some things you’ll need to do to adapt your business to this rapidly growing method of conducting Internet searches. As an example, when you prepare content for your website or blogs, you should be thinking in terms of how users would talk conversationally about your products or services. In most cases, users will phrase their search in the form of a question, and that means you need to consider how your content can directly answer that question, so it will be presented to the user when searching.
Another thing you’ll need to do to prepare your business for the coming voice search revolution is to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. This doesn’t just mean that your web pages can be accurately displayed on the small screen of a smartphone – it means you’ll have to revamp your strategy to be one that considers mobile users first. That’s right – your primary concern will no longer be desktop or laptop users, but mobile users. Here’s why.
More and more users who conduct Internet searches are busy workers who are constantly on the go. All these searches are best conducted in a hands-free mode, which means voice search will be used. It will also be the most convenient approach for someone at home who’s busy with household chores – almost any housework can still be accomplished in hands-free mode, by speaking into your phone to conduct a search.
Statistics show that consumers are 79% more likely to make a purchase from a website that is very mobile-friendly and accommodating to mobile users. If you’re involved with marketing or advertising goods and services, you’ll want to ensure that your business websites, platforms, and interfaces are all set up for maximum friendliness toward mobile users. Here are some of the things you should address in that regard:
- Make all information easy to find and very readable when it is found
- Re-size any pushbuttons and calls-to-action so that they are appropriate for mobile and fit within the context of their respective pages
- Redesign any pop ups you have for mobile presentation
- Use a larger font so it can be seen more readily, and display more vertical content, as opposed to stretching out sentences on a horizontal line
- Speed up load times for your web pages, because users will be quick to abandon any site that stalls out or calls for long loading times.
In short, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to present your website and all its content in the most appealing possible display to mobile users. That will put you in line to have your site presented to users when they conduct voice searches.
One of the most popular uses for voice search is already occurring, when people use it to find local restaurants or services in their area. Approximately 22% of all voice search queries seek to find information on specific locations in a given area, whether that be for restaurants, gas stations, professional services, or shopping centers. This means that if you haven't already done so, you should take the time to develop a robust local voice search SEO strategy.
This can help drive a tremendous amount of traffic to your website and increase your revenue very quickly. If you fail to do this, you’ll be missing out on an enormous source of sales and profits, because your competitors will certainly take advantage of the situation. Here are some of the best ways to improve your local SEO search strategy:
- Keep user intent in mind - optimize your content for voice search, keeping in mind the intent you think the user will have behind their search query. One good way to do this is to anticipate some of the most frequently asked questions and make answers to those questions available. This might involve your business address, operating hours, available services, or your product lines. Once you've given this some thought, then create some content that a voice search will quickly discover and return to users.
- Optimize for search engines - you don't really need to optimize for any specific search engine, since Google dominates the market, and it's not worth your effort to optimize for any other search engine. Instead, your focus should be on generating compelling content and using well-researched SEO, so your content will be picked up in searches all over the Internet.
- Use long-tail keywords – long-tail keywords are at least as effective and probably much more so, than when shorter ones are used to conduct voice searches. They will be longer and contain more words than a typical search query, so they are typically far more exact. The big value of long-tail keywords is that they are more like conversation and thus more likely to sync up with a voice search query than any short-tail keyword might be.
- Google My Business – make sure your Google My Business listing is updated and accurate, so that you can be easily found and reached by voice search. The more complete your business information is, the more likely it becomes that your site will be presented to users at the top of the search results page.
- Use Google Maps - it can be extremely effective if you use search ads embedded in Google Maps, because this is an unobtrusive way of displaying your business to potential customers. Your ads will be displayed when organic results are delivered, and this can be an extremely effective way of getting more people to contact your business.
- Use Google Ads location extensions - this is a very important step to take, so that you can get all your important business and contact information to display right with your ads. This comes into play especially when users conduct ‘near me’ searches. Be sure to include all the appropriate information in your extensions, because it will definitely improve your performance in local searches.
There is no doubt that increasing use of voice searches will eventually become the dominant form of Internet searches. That being the case, it makes good sense for you to prepare for this coming situation and position your business to take advantage of it. By maximizing your compatibility with voice search, your business can be consistently displayed at the top of search results, and that gives you the best opportunity for continued business success.