Want to help searchers find exactly what they’re looking for by optimising for voice search? This is what you need to know.
Google’s shift to mobile-first indexing and the increased usage of virtual assistants has really put voice search in the spotlight in recent months.
According to Smart Insights, 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine, and with the speedy advancement of mobile technology, it’s much easier to voice your search query than to take the time to type it out.
A report by Search Engine people showed that 20% of mobile searches on Google are made via voice and 60.5 million people in the US currently use digital assistants. Voice search and how it affects SEO is no longer a topic that marketers can ignore if they want to stay ahead of their competitors and in tune with the needs of their target audiences.
Chances are you’re already using one of the many virtual assistants available to mobile users today. Apple has Siri, Google has Google Assistant, Amazon has Alexa and Samsung now has Bixby. Even Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the US.
With all this being said, however, a recent study by BrightEdge indicates that 62% of marketers have no plan to include voice search in their 2018 SEO strategies, leaving a huge gap for brands who would like to make it a priority from 2018 onwards.
The importance of optimising for voice search in 2018
So why should marketers take the time to include voice search in their SEO strategies and how will it impact their optimisation efforts overall?
- Increase website traffic and turnover. Searchers want answers fast so by incorporating voice search into your overall SEO strategy, you will most certainly be increasing your website traffic. Customers who use voice search are also more likely to be ready to make a purchase and convert right then and there, which is why voice search could be an effective tactic for boosting your turnover too.
- Better meet customer demands and query intents. By optimising for voice search you will be expanding on the types of queries that you have the ability to rank for, queries that users wouldn’t necessarily type out on a desktop device. This means that your brand can better meet customer demands by addressing a wider variety of queries.
- Greater featured snippets visibility. A featured snippet is an extract from a website that answers a user’s query most accurately and is displayed at the top of Google’s search results. By better understanding the types of featured snippets that are displayed based on voice search queries, marketers can develop content that has a higher chance of featuring for voice queries too, expanding their online reach and increasing their brand credibility.
Voice search optimisation best practices
Considering it’s predicted that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, this is the perfect time to start being more cognisant of how you can start optimising for voice search. Here are a few best practices that you can follow to get inside the minds of your customers and start optimising for voice search in 2018.
- Page speed matters. The average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds so in order to increase your chances of appearing in voice search results, it’s extremely important for you to enhance the speed of your website, your mobile site in particular.
- Claim Your Google My Business Listing. If you haven’t already, go ahead and setup your Google My Business (GMB) listing. The reason why this is relevant to voice search is that most voice search queries are local and a GMB listing will increase your chances of appearing in those results.
- Think long-tail and conversational keywords. Your 2018 keyword strategy should be based on how people talk and ask questions. Sit and brainstorm the types of questions that your customers would generally ask and how those questions relate back to your products, services and brand.
- Use FAQs as your base. As you develop content around conversational keywords, keep the words “why”, “how”, “what”, and “when” in mind. Your content should offer searchers the best possible answer to their search query, which will generally contain at least one of those words.
- Focus on answer length. Google generally prefers to display short, concise answers in their voice search results so it helps to keep this in mind when developing your content. Keep your key sentences and answers brief and to the point.
- Start using structured markup data. While schema markup doesn’t necessarily have a direct impact on voice search, it does give Google additional information on your brand and your content, ensuring that it can more accurately identify when your website would be able to offer the most relevant answer to a query.
- Try it out. The best way to start gaining a better understanding of voice search and the types of results that it produces is to start using it yourself and experimenting with various types of phrases. Use some general phrases not related to your industry and then experiment with phrases that you think your customers might be using to see what type of content is showing up.
The bottom line is that voice search is here to stay and with so many brands not yet focusing on this incredibly important development in SEO, there is huge potential for brands to start making their way to the top of Google’s voice search results in 2018, if done correctly of course.
How much of your SEO strategy will be focused on voice search in 2018?