Voice search has rapidly grown both in popularity and in usage recently. Nowadays, more and more consumers are opting for a voice search rather than good old typing. But why is that? The main reason behind this new trend is a growing number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices and the evolution of virtual assistants, such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa and other imaginary foxy ladies that live in various devices. People are growing more accustomed to the convenience provided by both the devices and the assistants.
So much in fact, that they’re becoming an integral part of our everyday lives. That being said, today 13% of households in the U.S. alone use some variety of smart speakers. It’s estimated that the percentage will rise to 55% by 2020. What does that mean for search engine optimization (SEO)? Simply put, companies will have to focus more on voice search if they wish to remain relevant to consumers, not to mention maintain good rankings with the search engines. Therefore, here’s how to optimize for voice search in 2019.
The rise of voice search
What exactly is voice search and what’s behind this new trend? Basically, voice search, as its name suggests, is technology that allows people to search for things online using their voice, instead of just typing it. Thanks to the ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) system, modern devices, such as phones, tablets etc. can transform sound into text and continue on with the online searching on those devices.
This tech isn’t new, it’s been around since 2008, but it only took up pace recently. In fact, Google’s voice search feature received 35 times more voice searches in 2016 than it did back in 2008. It’s also estimated that the number of voice searches will reach 50% by 2020 and 30% of those searches will come from screenless assistants. Nowadays, there are around 33 million voice search devices and even 40% of adults are using them. It’s safe to say that people are getting lazy and technology is allowing them to. Jokes aside, it’s pretty convenient to search for something by speaking rather than typing, especially when you’re on the move.
Make it fast and secure
Companies are starting to realize that the general rules that apply for traditional SEO strategy are not the same for voice search optimization. As you may already know speed and security are important ranking factors for SEO, but it’s even more so for voice search. As a matter of fact, voice search is primarily mobile and consumers want answers as fast as possible. Currently, Google is considering mobile speed as a ranking factor ever since July 2018.
That’s why it’s important to make your website fast, in order to meet the consumer voice search needs. But what about security? Having a secured website gave you a mild boost in ranking so far. Having an HTTPS was therefore important for many websites. However, it seems that it’s more important to voice search as 70.4% of voice search websites had HTTPS implemented compared to 50% for desktop searches. In other words, make your websites fast and secure if you want to rank well for voice search in 2019.
Go for featured snippets and local SEO
If you don’t know what featured snippets are, they are a result format designed to provide consumers with concise, specific and direct answers to questions right on the search results, all of that without consumers having to click on a result in the first place. The main reason they are important is that Google Home and Google Assistant devices are reading from featured snippets when they provide answers to voice search inquires. Therefore, aim for your answers to be specific and concise, in order to reach featured snippet stage and thus optimize better for voice search.
As far as the local SEO goes, 39% of voice searches are for local business information. That being said, it’s time to update Google My Business and other local listings to optimize for voice search. According to an SEO agency Online Marketing Gurus, voice search is one of the SEO opportunities that will give you an edge over your competitors. That means that aside from mastering your local market, you’ll gain an advantage over competitors who are indecisive about voice search optimization. Also ensure your content matches user intent regarding most commonly used voice search queries, in order to ensure favourable ranking on search engines.
Optimize the content
So far, traditional SEO required from you to rank for specific short-tail or long-tail keywords that match user intent. It also required that you link to detail and in-depth content that provides good information on the topic. That’s all well and fine for typing, but voice search tends to be different. Since consumers speak faster than they type, it’s common for them to use longer and more specific search queries that involve more who, what, where, when, why, and how words. What’s more, the answers must be short, specific and on-point, as well as written at the ninth-grade level in order to rank well.
In short, an average response for a voice search shouldn’t be longer than 29 words. Therefore, companies will have to go from providing detailed content for short search phrases to providing straight answers for detailed questions, which kind of changes the entire perspective of SEO. That being said, when producing relevant content for voice search optimization, companies will have to get inside the minds of consumers and produce content that has definitive questions, while also providing concise answers.
Voice search is the next big thing as far as popular trends go. Companies that wish to remain relevant to their audience and continue to provide a seamless experience will have to focus on voice search optimization. Will this trend change SEO as we know it remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, and that is that there are big changes coming.
A massive thank you to Elaine Bennet from Bizzmark Blog for writing this article!
Elaine Bennett is a digital marketing specialist focused on helping Australian startups and small businesses grow. Besides that, she’s a regular contributor for Bizzmark Blog and writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more entrepreneurs and help them on their business journey. You can follow her on Twitter.
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