Recently on my way home from work, when I came to a halt at a stoplight I was motivated to ask Siri a question about some actor in a TV show. After Siri’s prompt response I was inclined to follow up with more burning questions, like:
“What is the capital of Alabama?”
“What is the meaning of life?”
“Who framed Roger Rabbit?”
In voicing these miscellaneous and extraneous queries, I thought about how much today’s digital search has become reliant on vocal commands thanks to the smartphones that so many of us keep at our sides like life support. Today, an amazing 60% of searches are conducted through mobile devices, and that segment only continues to grow. Accordingly, because of the small nature of mobile screens, voice search is an increasingly popular feature that saves time, effort, and eyestrain. Furthermore, voice search is becoming more relevant thanks to the growing market for voice assistant tech, like Google Home devices and the Amazon Echo.
This shift in the way people search is an extremely pertinent topic for anyone with a website, including business owners. Site owners, and the online presence management folk they hire, need to adjust their SEO strategy in response to this change, approaching content and the overall SEO process with a new mindset.
Let’s Have A Conversation
The world has long gotten used to the traditional means of searching for information online through the use of keywords or phrases. But while traditional search requires you to think in clean-cut, straight-to-the-point terms, voice search is more conversational than that. As a result, voice queries are often longer than regular search queries. These are often called “long tail+” keywords. The + in that term signifies the conversational phrase add-ons that go along with voice search optimization.
In accordance with this, when optimizing for voice search, your keyword strategy should also be conversational. Think about how people actually talk and think. How would a human being ask a question? Better—what do your actual customers ask when they call your business? By branching off those real world queries, you can better format your keyword strategy to appeal to inherent human mentality. You can craft content that plays to the long tail+ keywords of a conversational voice search.
The Local Impact
Because many people utilize location settings on their smartphones, mobile devices know where their owners are physically located. As a result, smartphone searches can be extremely accurate and helpful when your query has a local factor involved. For example, “Siri, where is the nearest Thai restaurant?”
As of 2016, about 22% of people utilizing voice search are using it to acquire information about local places. That’s almost a fourth of users! Hence the need for small-to-medium sized businesses to optimize for voice search.
Claim That Listing!
Google favors sites that utilize Google platforms and tools. That’s a fact as much as it is a no-brainer. If you haven’t claimed your business’s Google My Business listing yet, do so. Then optimize it and make sure all information is accurate and updated in all areas (from category of service to weekly hours). Google My Business, in particular, contributes to your local search authority. And that can help your normal search results as much as your voice search results. In sum, having a claimed, updated Google My Business page increases your chances of showing up in relevant voice searches.
More Stuff You Can Do
Structured Data Markup
By implementing the use of structured data markup or schema markup, you can give voice search devices more information about your site. Structured data markup makes it easier for search engines to understand, and thus rank, your content.
The great thing about FAQ pages is that they can really focus on the long tail+ keywords—those conversational phrases that impact voice search. You can fill your content with human-speak styled keywords, grouping common questions on the same page and even creating different pages that might appeal to different types of voice searches.
As voice commands increase dominion over search, queries are going to become more specific. Instead of a user typing in “best blueberry pie,” a user might say “Siri, where can I find the best gluten-free blueberry pie made with organic ingredients?” So, in order to better appeal to voice search rankings, your can customize pages, particularly FAQ pages, with answers to any super-specific questions users may ask in relation to your business. This tactic could raise your chances of being a Google “Featured Snippet” as well.
Voicing Predictions Of The Future
In 2015, 1.7 million devices with voice tech were purchased, and that number quadrupled in 2016 to 6.5 million.
According to a VoiceLabs projection, during 2017 that number will rise even more significantly to around 24.5 million.
It is clear that it is becoming increasingly important for site owners and search marketers to be aware of optimization tactics that apply to voice search. The number of people relying on voice search will only keep growing as mobile devices and electronic assistants rise in popularity. It is an inescapable trend that the SEO savvy must adhere to. Don’t believe me? Maybe you should ask Siri. Or Alexa—she’s no fool either.