Voice search is a feature that enables you to search for information you want on a website by a voice command. In action, this means, you ‘tell’ what you are looking for, unlike times when you ‘type’ a keyword in the search bar of a website. A glamorous example of this mechanism is when the Ironman tells Jarvis what he is seeking. You only have to speak aloud what you want. Digital assistants like Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft) and Alexa (Amazon) do the searching and get you what you want. Going by the pace of technological changes, the day may not be far when a Jarvis like assistant manifests.
Why is it necessary?
Voice search started gaining popularity sometime in 2014. Since then it has only become more popular. Google quantified this popularity through a study; 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search more than once a day. The reasons are evident. Voice search is easy and effortless. You can voice search for anything while doing anything. Be it driving, cooking, exercising or eating, your search results are delivered to you.
The underlying mechanism for a voice search is simple. You speak a simple phrase with your digital assistant. Voice activated software uses natural language processing and speech to text as input. It further uses your search phrase, past history and search context to get you the most relevant results. It is as good as talking to a friend who knows it all to find information. Naturally, something as simple and as clever is bound to become THE trend. SEO experts think on similar lines. These are the SEO trends to watch out for in 2017 according to them. Note voice search is at number 3.
How will Voice Search Affect SEO?
Voice search is bound to change the dynamics of Search Engine Optimization as we know it. One of the very basic reasons for this sea change is the difference in the way we talk with that of writing. It is not at all a common practice to talk the same way as writing. The latter is a lot more thought through and formal. The former is precise, spontaneous and informal. Most websites today are built around algorithms that are shaped around written content. With voice search as the main vehicle of search, websites have to restructure the content to be voice friendly. Likewise SEO powering these websites has to be in sync with voice search. Just as a case in example, the 5W’s are the most popular voice search terms. Just look at this graph. It goes to prove that voice search is the way forward. If your SEO knowledge and strategy doesn’t factor in these changes, it will affect your business, directly.
5 things to do to optimize voice search for SEO
It is inevitable that voice search plays an important role in SEO. It is important to optimize voice search for your SEO plans. The following 5 ways are super important to achieve that.
Voice search is a lot like conversations. If you were speaking to knowledgeable friend, you are highly likely to converse and not just throw questions. This is exactly how your website content should be structured. Hummingbird 2013 launch of Google further proves this point. Exact match keywords are a thing of the past. Conversational, natural speech oriented long tail keywords are the in thing. Voice search functions on these guidelines. Conversational content will strengthen your efforts to build voice search friendly SEO plans. Include questions and long phrases in your web content.
The words ‘near me’ are probably the most regularly used in voice search. It could be a boutique near me or a restaurant near me or even a doctor near me. Location matters the most in voice search. This happens because more often than not, there is a higher level of urgency in a voice search compared to normal search. People are looking for something easily accessible. It is of supreme importance to set your website correctly for local searches; all the more if you are in a business that is localized.
Couple of things that will help improve SEO in this aspect are customer reviews and pictures. Reviews matter the most, even the negative ones. Be sure to acknowledge positive reviews and respond to negative one.
Another thing to do is to work on your schema markup. Customize the local section of your website schema to display working hours, address, contact numbers and email ID’s.
Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ’s gather an altogether different level of importance with voice search. Questions are the most popularly used voice searches. Including a page of FAQ’s on your website boosts optimization rate with respect to voice search. Start your questions with why, who, when, how and whom. Draft your answers in the most conversational and natural manner. It is a good idea to just speak out your answers and then type them. Remember voice searches are urgent. So make sure your answers are giving out the immediate answers sought by the seeker.
Keywords are not used for voice searches. Key phrases are used. It doesn’t come naturally to anybody to use query language when speaking. When someone uses voice search, natural choice of querying will be long phrased questions. Include such phrases as keywords. Tools like Rank Tracker from Google help in figuring out the right set of phrases, questions and keywords for your website. When you feed the tool with a key word, it helps you auto complete the given key words to form meaningful questions. These can be used in building your content.
5.Mobile friendly optimization
Most voice searches happen from mobiles. Smartphone’s and advancements in mobile technology have made it effortless to use voice search on mobile. It is important to optimize your website for mobile to optimize for voice search. Mobile comes first even before desktop for both marketers and customers. A simple step towards it is to take and clear Google’s mobile friendly test. Clearing this test ranks your website in mobile searches.
In the end, voice search is the future forward for websites and web based businesses. The section of business that happens via the internet is only becoming bigger by the day. Without voice search optimization for your website, you will not be heard in this competitive space. So, optimize your website for voice search RIGHT NOW!
Suha Emma is a Content Marketing Manager and Product Specialist at GreyCampus with six years rich experience on professional certification courses like PMI-PMP, PMI-ACP, Prince2, ITIL and Six Sigma. You can follow her on twitter:@suhaemma99