How does Voice Search affect SEO?
These three phrases didn’t have any common meaning less than seven years ago. It was only when Apple introduced Siri in 2011 as part of the Apple 4S that the voice search revolution began.
Slow going at first, the use of digital AI assistants has slowly taken hold of our behavior. Voice to text recognition has come a long way in recent years, and more often people are speaking their queries rather than typing them.
Consider that humans can speak 150 words per minute while compared with the 40-60 words the average person can type in the same time. This is a key reason why voice-based search queries are growing.
Here are some statistics about voice search in 2019 to consider:
- In 2019, 1 in 6 Americans owns a Smart Speaker, including an Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomePod.
- Apple reported in early 2018 that over 500 million people use Siri across their iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and HomePod devices.
- In a recent keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that one-fifth of the queries on Google are voice searches.
- Last year during the Christmas season, Amazon reported that sales through Alexa had tripled from 2017 to 2018.
How is SEO being affected by Voice Search?
To begin with, research has shown that voice search results tend to favor the results on featured snippets. Also known as position zero, a featured snippet is the ultimate place to be featured by Google and drives an incredible amount of traffic.
As search engines have evolved, we have come to depend upon them more often for commonly asked questions. It used to be that we would ask each other for ideas or reads books and periodicals, but today the term ‘Google it’ has taken precedence.
A big part of search today is question-based searches. Search terms starting with ‘how to’, ‘why do’, ‘what is’ have grown in popularity, especially in the voice search arena. In a way, Google is becoming a large FAQ section for every possible question ever.
For those wanting to grow more traffic to their website, this is an important point: the more useful your answers, and the more detailed you can be, the more likely you are to gain traction from voice searches.
The other factor to consider is natural language. As people all became accustomed to the web, we tended to shorten our search queries to a couple of words. But over the past few years, Google became very proficient at understanding voice queries. Today more than ever, we search how we speak.
Five tips for better SEO through Voice Search
1) Write your website and blog content in a natural, conversational voice. Don’t get too technical if you can avoid it. Use one line answers where possible for simplicity and conciseness.
2) Answers the questions your customers are asking you. Listen to what the most commonly asked questions are on the phone and in-person. Then answer them on the website in written and video form.
3) Remember context matters. Website content isn’t only about keywords, it’s about semantic search which includes context, search intent and the relationship between the words. The better you can honestly answer real questions, the more likely that Google will rank them well. If you combine the true phrases people ask into the content, this is even better.
4) Help Google find the relevant information on your page using structured data. Take a look at schema.org to see what types of structured data you can add to your pages. This increases your chances of being featured.
5) Include locations for local SEO. People that use voice search will often include phrases such as ‘near me’ and ‘around me’. For example, if you own a business in San Diego, be sure to include keywords to your site that include your city. Whenever people use voice search near San Diego, your business will have a higher chance of showing up as a result. Location-specific search also has a stronger chance of acquiring new business so it well worth including locations whenever possible.
The new world of voice search is an enhancement to the devices that we use. If we are smart and embrace the trends to improve the value of the content we create, we are more likely to garner attention.