Voice search is a concept that allows users to use voice command to search the internet for information across various devices, without the need to type keywords manually.
Although voice search is not an entirely new concept, it has gained appreciation and popularity with recent technological advancements and innovations like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. Recent statistics show 41.6% of users only started using voice search within the last six months.
Devices like smartphones, voice assistants, and smart speakers, are now being optimized for voice search, which, as research suggests, will account for half of all online searches in 2020.
So what does this mean for businesses?
Well, to benefit from the increasing popularity of voice search, businesses need to optimize their websites and platforms sooner rather than later to keep up to speed with the changing digital marketing landscape.
Here are a few reasons why and how.
Users are now searching differently with voice search. Instead of typing keywords as you would do using text search, the semantics have changed. Voice search requires a conversational tone, where users will more likely start asking questions to find out information or about products and services.
This means the content created throughout your marketing strategy will need to focus on keywords that adapt to voice search and the change in user behavior.
An excellent place to start, moving forward, would be to consider long-tail, natural, and question keywords that are commonly used to help you rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) or Featured Snippets.
The goal of appearing on the first page on Google is slowly drifting away over the digital marketing horizon as voice search picks up the first snippet, meaning where you are on the first page is even more important today.
Voice search is not only done on desktops but has become a convenient tool for users who are always moving around and depend highly on their smartphones.
When businesses consider optimizing their websites and content for voice search, they should also keep in mind a mobile-friendly interface that accommodates voice search efficiently.
In fact, research suggests that 70% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a mobile-friendly website.
A lot of the times voice search is used is to find out about local information regarding locations of different places like restaurants and shops.
Nearly 22% of voice search queries request location-based information.
Businesses should, therefore, consider a local voice search SEO strategy to help increase traffic to your website and not miss out on organic growth opportunities.
Backlinko, an SEO training company, conducted the most extensive voice search SEO ranking factors study using 10,000 Google Home results and found the following:
- Google mostly responds to queries with 29-word answers.
- Answers are 1.7 times more likely to come from FAQ pages compared to desktop.
- 40.7% of the answers come from Featured Snippets.
- Less than 2% of voice search results had the keyword in the title tag.
- Voice search results load 3.8 times faster than an average website.
- Average voice search results are written at a 9th-grade reading level.
- The average domain authority for a voice search result is almost 77.
- The average word count of a voice search results page is 2312 words.
- Video content plays a significant role in voice search queries.
These findings are further supported by these results from the following case studies.
In one study, the strategy was focused on optimizing content for voice search by including mini FAQs on the top of every page to answer the question.
If you remember, we mention that FAQs are a great way to include answers with 29 words, which is picked up 1.7 times faster by Google.
Other factors that helped Google capture the answer/page included a 9th-grade reading level and domain authority of 85, higher than the average 77.
The content was also captured in the Featured Snippet, making it the first answer Google used to respond to the query; in this case, it was, “What is a Channel Description?”
A second case study experimented with formatting and language for a guide on The Google Keyword Planner. The technical information was broken down into easier bite-size reads at a 9th-grade reading level, which helped it to rank number 1 in the voice search results. The word count for this page was 2497, a little higher than the average 2312.
So now that you have an idea about the different factors that can help you optimize your content strategy for voice search let’s talk a bit more about the important role of keywords.
We highlighted earlier; voice search queries are often made up of a lot of questions because of the conversational tone used by users. This means you should include question keywords like how, what, why, where, and when in your content. Don’t forget to include filler words like I, the, for, etc. in questions as well, to make the content more conversational.
Other important keywords are long-tail keywords, which are complete 3-4 keyword phrases used to ask for specific things. Usually, when users are using voice search, they already know the specific information they are looking for. Targeting long-tail keywords will help you rank higher as voice searches are longer than text searches.
Now, we have had a look at how to optimize content to perform best in voice search rankings. Let’s take a look at how you optimize your website for voice search.
The loading speed of a website can often take a back seat but is imperative for voice search. A website’s loading speed has a direct impact on the bounce rate. Therefore it will not be picked up or ranked in voice search results.
Voice search gives immediate results, and Google released its Speed Update to emphasize this very fact.
There are different features of a website that can slow downloading speeds. Try using compressed images and videos, CSS3 and HTML5 frameworks, reduce redirects and plugins, and also try using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to improve your loading speed.
So there you have it…
Voice search is a revolutionized concept, changing the way we search for information. New devices are being released worldwide and used in almost every household. Our smartphone is also becoming a handsfree necessity to complete various activities. Optimizing your content with the right formatting, language, keywords, and conversational tone can get you to the top of SERPs where your content can be quickly picked up by Google. Don’t forget about your website either. Loading times and mobile-friendly interfaces are all a part of the user experience, which makes your brand memorable.