Voice search has grown in popularity over recent years – and for good reason! Not only is it fast and convenient, but it’s also extremely reliable. However, its growth has posed a new task for SEOs – optimising for voice queries. There are a few distinct differences between traditional optimisation and optimising for voice queries, which are shaping the future of SEO for good.
Voice search relies on state of the art voice recognition technology to allow users to conduct searches by asking their questions aloud, as opposed to typing it in a search field. Unlike traditional voice assistants, which often had trouble understanding questions, modern voice recognition technology is incredibly sophisticated. It’s able to pick up just about any query, allowing people to search for what they’re looking for quickly, conveniently and hands-free. Not only can people use the feature on their smartphone, using systems such as Siri and Cortana, but voice operated devices are also available for the home – including the Amazon Alexa and Google Home. With all of this new technology on the market, it’s no surprise that voice search has been growing in popularity. Although traditional search methods are still prevailing, voice search is on the rise, with over one billion voice searches per month in 2018. It’s also estimated that, by 2020, half of all searches will be by voice search – making it more important than ever for SEOs to ensure their sites are optimised for this.
Voice search changes the way in which people conduct searches, meaning your SEO strategy needs to change too. In Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update, answering questions became a priority, foreplanning the rise in voice search. But how exactly can you make sure your content is optimised for voice queries?
Forget targeting short-tail keywords. In order to maximise your voice search optimisation, you need to make sure you’re targeting long-tail, conversational keywords. Spoken questions contain more words than typed words do and often contain the phrases ‘best’ or ‘nearest’. So rather than people searching for ‘duplicate content’, they might ask ‘What impact does duplicate content have on SEO?’. When people type, they tend to use the least amount of words possible in order to find results. However, voice queries tend to be more conversational and mimic natural language. This means you’ve got a much better chance of ranking for voice search queries when you’re targeting long-tail keywords. Equally, long-tail keywords are much more specific, meaning they’re less competitive and convert quicker – it’s a win-win situation.
Whether or not you’re optimising your site for voice search, you should certainly still be trying to chase featured snippets in position zero on search engine results pages (SERPs). Featured snippets are a summary of an answer for a search query. They’re displayed at the top of search results, in position zero. Not only does this increase organic traffic to your website, but it also allows you to beat your competition – after all, you can’t get better than position zero! Featured snippets give users the information they’re looking for in a quick, easy-to-digest way, without having to click through to any websites. But how exactly do they fit in to your voice search optimisation strategy? When you search using voice queries, 40% of the time, your device will provide you with the answer from Google’s featured snippets. For example, if you ask ‘Why do you need a Digital Marketing strategy?’, your device will provide you with the answer from position zero, which might be:
‘A cohesive digital marketing strategy will help you to achieve your business goals. From reaching your target audience to tracking growth, a digital strategy can help to make a huge difference to your business – no matter how big it is.’
By appearing in position zero, you’ll maximise traffic to your website and give you more visibility over your competitors, thus strengthening your marketing strategy.
When it comes to optimising your content for voice search, it’s a case of go long or go home. Google favours long-form content for voice search. The average word count for a voice search results page is 2,312 words. Not only does long-form content maximise your chances of appearing in voice search results, but it also increases your chances of ranking higher in SERPs all together. When using voice search devices, you can ask follow up questions for your original query, so the longer your content, the more likely you are to rank for multiple queries.
It’s no secret that social media is a vital part of your marketing strategy, but did you know it can actually increase your chances of appearing in voice search results? The average voice search result has around 1,199 shares on Facebook and 44 Retweets – displaying the importance of having an integrated marketing strategy. Additionally, this is one of the easiest actions to implement by simply sharing your content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. If your content is engaging, well written and has a catchy title – it should pick up social shares in no time. And there you have it. By implementing the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to optimising your content for the rise of voice search. You can thank us in 2020.