Voice search is growing in popularity and it’s all part of our modern technological society.
A major driver in this growth is the easy availability of Smartphones. They have revolutionized how we do business and handle tasks in our personal lives. They are the phone book, public library, CD player, movie theater, TV and newspaper that we carry in our pockets today. Perhaps its most important function is its ability to find the information we need.
Voice Search Stats
According to SearchEngineWatch,com, over 50 percent of all online queries will be done via voice by the year 2020! MediaPost.com reports that thirty percent of those searches will be done without a screen but instead using a digital assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.
While usage numbers for 2017 are not available yet, the number of voice-assisted devices in use was expected to be around 33 million. A large percentage of those owners, 42%, say that their smart speaker has become an essential part of their lives.
Twenty-two percent of users are looking for local information.
Another indication of just how popular this trend is can be seen by the fact that the Echo Dot was the best selling gift in the 2017 holiday season.
Voice and Traditional Search
As the internet grew in the 1990s, businesses wanted to be found on it. That meant being involved with search engine optimization (SEO). For years, marketers focused on a keyword-first search optimization strategy. But with the Panda and Penguin updates to the Google search algorithm, quality content became king.
Instead of just looking at the keywords on the page, Google now rewarded websites with higher search rankings if the content organically matched a given search.
In an interview with SearchEngineLand.com, Yext’s Duane Forrester explained that that content continues to be valuable with voice search. But with it, voice also requires context. That context takes the form of the geographic location if there is a query about the temperature outside. Or the present date and time if someone asks when the next Cleveland Cavaliers game is.
Voice search assistants need to be able to determine the context of the question, as well as find and retrieve the content for the answer.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
With voice search being so new, a list of absolute best practices has not yet been worked out. But based on the results that each voice assistant provide, there does seem to be some commonalities that deliver results.
Claim Your Google My business Listing
This is step one to being found by Google. Your Google My Business (GMB) listing is your company’s home on the Google platform. So it only makes sense that if you want to be found by the Google search engine, you should be set up there.
Since the majority of voice searches are for local information, your updated GMB listing can help you be found for those queries.
Begin basing your content creation efforts around conversational or long tail keyword phrases. Consumers ask for information in this way. Do keyword research to understand what phrases are being used.
Use Frequently Asked Questions (FA) Pages
If long tail or conversation content is important in voice search, then FAQ pages are a great way to introduce that type of content into your website. Use those long tail, conversational questions that a searcher might ask and provide a succinct answer to it.
You may have noticed the featured snippet or answer box that appears on search engine results pages. Having your website’s content display is very desirable for traditional search. But it also plays into voice search results. It is this information that is used to answer voice queries.
Use Structured Data
Structured data is code that can be added to your web pages that tells
Google precisely what the page is about. It classifies the content and includes specific information such as keywords. The information contained in the structured data is another way to tell the search engine that your page is relevant to the search being conducted.
In the 1960s TV show Star Trek, rather than type in a question, Mr. Spock simply asked the ship’s computer for the information he needed and received an auditory reply from the machine. At the time, that capability seemed impossible to imagine. It was a nice piece of fantasy, but was something that wasn’t achievable in our lifetimes.
Yet just 50 years later, the voice activated assistants have all made that idea a reality. Of course, today’s reality is not always like the science fiction image that inspired it. In today’s world, businesses will need to optimize their websites if they want to be found in voice search.
If you have questions about voice search, call me at 513-237-5530.
Bob Turner is a Digital Marketing Consultant in Cincinnati, Ohio.