Have you used Siri, Google Assistant, Google Home or Alexa to help you search for things online?

My teenaged daughter was studying in her bedroom recently, and needed to find the answer to a science question.

She’d left her laptop in the lounge room, and, in her words, “I was too lazy to leave my bedroom”. She got out her phone and asked Siri the science question and was able to get the answer within seconds.

When she told me this, my first thought was “Lazy bones!” but then I realised it was clever. It’s not something I would have ever thought to do.

Until now.

About a month ago, I started playing around on Google Assistant on my Samsung Galaxy phone and have discovered just how useful voice search is.

On pressing the microphone icon, or saying “Ok Google”, I can ask whatever question I’d like an answer to, and Google provides me with an answer.

Apart from the typical questions such as what’s the weather this weekend and what time does the local supermarket close, I asked when Croatia would be playing in the World Cup. I was given a list of all the matches, the dates and the times and was asked whether I’d like these matches added to my calendar!

What’s so great about all of this, you might be asking? 

Prefer to listen to this blog post rather than read it? I know you’re short on time, or if you’re like me, you might like to listen to this while working out at the gym!

voice search SEO

Here are some benefits of using voice search:

-It’s easier to ask a question than to type it

-Voice search is faster, easier and more fun than text search

-Voice search is accessible to those who are visually impaired

-Voice search is great for kids who can’t read or write yet

-Older generations find it easier to learn to use voice search than to use text search

 

My family has jumped on the voice search bandwagon, but what about the rest of the world?

Search Engine Land reported back in 2016 that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches. People are now able to perform transactions on their mobiles using their voice- you can order a pizza or book concert tickets.

In a Branded3 article earlier this year, it was reported that by 2020 50% of all searches will be voice.

Currently, there are over one billion voice searches per month, and 1 in 5 adults online have used voice search via their mobile phone in the last month.

What does this mean for all of us in business?

PIN POST TO READ LATER

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Should we get rid of our websites? Have we wasted years of writing content for nothing? Why the heck are we so focused on video marketing if voice is the future?

Let’s take a closer look at voice search, SEO and what this means for our websites.

How does Google Voice Search work?

To the right of the Google search bar, you’ll see a microphone icon. Simply press the icon, and start speaking in a clear voice. To get the most accurate search results, make sure you speak clearly. Google will then either answer your query using voice or will list results for you like in a normal Google text-based search.

I’ve found that voice search works better with some queries than others. A question works better than a simple statement. More people use voice search to ask questions such as:

-What’s the time?

-What’s the weather tomorrow in {insert place}

-Where is the nearest Chinese restaurant?

-How old is George Clooney?

 

Over the years, Google has become smarter. Google can go beyond the obvious and read your entire search phrase and understand what you mean. Google can understand the context and the intent of your search query. It’s not about an individual word anymore.

Google can also learn to recognise your voice- it can recognise your accent, your language and how you speak.

This evolution has led to Google becoming smart enough to recognise voice search queries.

SEO melbourne voice search

 

What are people using voice search for?

Voice search is far from perfect. While it can help you do lots of things, there are still many things for which text search works better.

The most common voice search queries include:

-asking for directions

-asking to call someone

-checking store opening times

-checking movie session times.

Location-based voice searches are very popular- if you’re a local business, optimising your website for voice search is vital.

 

Text search versus voice search

The biggest difference between text searches and voice searches is the types of queries or questions asked.

With text searches, people tend to use short queries and keywords instead of full sentences.

With voice search, people typically use question phrases such as “Where is the closest Chinese restaurant to me”.

If you were searching for a Chinese restaurant via text search, you’d probably type “Chinese restaurant + {your location}”.

Voice search terms are usually longer, more specific and typically use the words who, what, where, when and how.

When writing content for your website, keep these phrases in mind.

Write content that answers these questions. If you’re a bricks and mortar store, include basic details such as your location, your store hours and phone number.

Your Frequently Asked Questions page should follow a question and answer format in a conversational tone. This increases the chances of Google sharing your page in the search results.

voice search optimisation

 

How to optimise your website for voice search

With voice search becoming more common, it’s important for you to optimise your website for voice search so that you can stay ahead of your competitors and get more search traffic.

SEO can be a tricky beast- we can only go by information that Google has released about its algorithm. We can also pay attention to research and statistics gathered by other websites- but again, this is not concrete information.

We can only speculate and guess what Google values as important and what elements may make up its algorithm. It’s important to test and see what works for your website, but ultimately the name of the game is being user-friendly and helpful to your readers.

Earlier this year, Backlinko analysed 10,000 Google Home results and came up with some interesting data that I have summarised below. This makes a good starting point for voice search SEO.

When it comes to SEO, technical aspects and your content play an important role in voice search.

Technical Aspects

Google My Business

Have you set up your Google My Business? If you’re a business with a physical address, it’s important to set up Google My Business so that you’re found on local Google searches.

You want your business to show up near the top of the page when someone performs a location-based voice search (such as “Where is the nearest doctor?”).

Make your website mobile and user-friendly

Mobile users want mobile-friendly websites. Many website owners still haven’t created a mobile-friendly design.

Your website needs to look nice on a mobile device- being able to read content easily on a mobile phone is important. A fast load speed is also vital- make sure you check your current mobile page speed. A slower speed increases the likelihood that users will leave your site.

Page Speed

Page speed plays a major role in SEO for voice search, as it does for text search. When searching for something, users don’t want to be waiting around for an answer. The average page load speed for a voice search result is 4.6 seconds.

Secure website

Having a secure website is also an important factor. HTTPS websites dominate voice search results.

Authority websites

Domains with a higher authority are more likely to appear in voice search results than domains with a lower authority. Keep working on building quality backlinks and authoritative content.

voice search seo

Content Strategies

Concise information

Short, concise answers to voice search queries are preferred by Google. The average voice search result is only 29 words long. Keep this in mind when writing your content- short and concise is better than long-winded and ambiguous.

Easy to read

Content that’s easy to read may help with voice search. The average Google voice search result is written at 9th grade level. Keep your language and sentence structures easy to read.

Long form content

Long form content performs better in voice search.

Hang on a sec, didn’t I say before that short and concise answers are the best?

Google prefers to use content that’s longer when finding answers to search queries. It prefers short and concise answers, but prefers to look for these answers in longer content.

The average word count of a voice search result page is just over 2300 words.

Frequently Asked Questions page

Typical voice search queries are those whose answers are found on an FAQ page.

FAQ pages are generally written in a conversational question-and-answer format. Use the FAQ page to build content that is optimised for voice search queries. Write simple and concise answers. Write questions that your customers and clients are likely to ask.

Write in a conversational tone of voice.

Social proof

The relationship between social engagement and voice search performance is debatable. Some sources state if your content has high levels of social engagement, you have an increased chance of performing well in voice search. Other sources say that the relationship between the two is inconclusive. I believe that the more your content is shared on social media, the more useful it must be to readers.

Featured Snippet

Your voice search rankings may increase if you appear in a Featured Snippet. A Featured Snippet is a search result found in a box, which appears before the list of organic search results. A Featured Snippet is used to answer a query straight away. The snippet can either be a paragraph, a list or a table.

Featured Snippets are great because they increase the likelihood of users clicking through to your website.

Although there’s nothing you can technically do to appear in a Featured Snippet, you can optimise your content to increase your chances of appearing in a Featured Snippet.

On-page SEO

With text-based searches, title tags and the structure of your content plays an important role in how your web page and site ranks in Google.

With voice searches, these elements aren’t as important.

Google is more likely to scan an entire page for an answer to a query rather than use clues such as the title of your blog post.

This makes sense for a couple of reasons:

Voice search queries tend to be longer than text-based queries. Using a voice query as your title tag would make the title too long. We can assume there’s less of an emphasis on title tags for voice search queries than for text-based queries.

-Voice search queries are questions for which you may not write an entire blog post about, or create a separate page for. You wouldn’t create a new page to advertise your store opening hours, and you wouldn’t blog about your phone number. Google is more likely to scan an entire page to look for an answer than rely on a title tag.

-Voice search results don’t always naturally appear near the beginning of a blog post or page. Many voice search results appear on a Frequently Asked Questions page because the answers are not typically blog post material.

Remember these points when writing content:

If you’re using voice search, you want an answer that’s easy to understand and is accurate.

You also want to use language that’s easy for Google to pronounce.

Voice search users don’t want to, or may not be able to, look up challenging words.

Google needs to be able to understand your text without any visual clues.

 

Have a go at using voice search and pay attention to the types of questions you ask and the answers Google gives you. Use this experience as a guide when you’re optimising your website or your clients’ website for voice search.

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SEO and voice search: everything you need to know

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