Google Home, Alexa, Siri.
These entities and devices have changed the way consumers get their information in the last 12 months, big time. Voice search is not a fad, it won’t go away and will continue to grow in popularity as more and more people adopt it into their homes and lives.
Consumer trends have always been about convenience; fast food, contactless payments, touch ID and all of the other big trends in the past have all boiled down to convenience. Solving problems and saving time. Voice search is the exact same, why would we pick up our phones and type out our search query if we could just ask our voice assistant? No more checking weather apps, or Googling local restaurants.
What does this mean for businesses? Well all of the work that has gone into Search Engine Optimisation isn’t null and void, you’ll be glad to know. There is now just another hurdle you have to jump in order to reach your audience ahead of your competitors. According to American measurement and analytics company Comscore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Thats next year. So you better get to work on your Voice Search optimisation campaigns!
Firstly, let’s look at the factors that come into influencing Google Home rankings, which can be assumed to affect results from Siri and Alexa also.
Page Speed: voice search is all about conversation. There is nothing conversational about having to wait 5 seconds for a response while the pages load. It is estimated that voice SERP load 52% faster than the average page.
Security: HTTPS secure more than 70% of the pages on Google Home, which is much higher than the results on a desktop search.
Conciseness: While there is no ‘perfect’ result, keeping your information short and informative will fair better with voice SERP. Aim to keep it below 30 words.
Simplicity: There is no need for complex language when optimising for voice search. The result will only be heard once, ideally, so keep it simple and digestible!
Featured Snippets: When writing content for SEO reasons, imagine you’re answering questions. Almost half of all voice-search answers were pulled from featured snippets.
Other things like domain authority, business listings and keywords do affect results, but much like Google’s SERP algorithm, we can never be 100% of the winning formula. By working to improve all of these things, you can almost guarantee your place at the top of voice search results!
Taking all of this into account, adjusting your strategy to incorporate voice search is vital to competing for top listings. There are 4 elements to the ideal SEO strategy, each of which require dedicated time and effort to ensure you are making the most of your SEO.
Use Structured Data
This involves looking past the content on your website, and looking at the back-end. Schema markup, or structured data when used effectively can give you an edge over your competitors. Basically, it’s metadata, the data about the information on your site that lives in your site’s source code. While this isn’t something that visitors will see, it will help the search engine organise and sort through content, you’re basically spelling out your content to Google! For a ‘how-to’ guide on structuring your data, Moz have all the information you need. Another useful strategic move here is submitting a detailed sitemap to Google which again, provides them with more information about your site and its data.
Manage and Leverage you Google My Business Listing
The vast majority of voice search queries are local, meaning they are looking for information relating to ‘near me’ searches, such as ‘things to do near me’. This has two implications for building your site in the necessary ways for search engine optimisation. People either search for ‘restaurants near me’ or ‘restaurants in Dublin’, so you have to provide information that responds to both of these queries, as simply and clearly as possible. Let’s take the city specific search query first, to optimise for this all you have to do is lay out your business information in your site footer in simple text format, again simply spelling it out for Google. The footer of a site is super important and is heavily weighted in Google’s algorithm, so keeping it clean simple and informative is the best strategy here.
The best way to manage the ‘near me’ query is by claiming and effectively managing your Google My Business listing. Providing Google with accurate information including Name, Address and phone number is the first important checkpoint. Going the extra mile and including the area code in your phone number, as well as using your business domain for your login rather than a gmail address will make optimisation slightly better! Then, you have to tackle the ‘introduction’ field, which is essentially your sales pitch. This isn’t the time to be concise, pack a punch and look at hitting 350-400 words that sum up your products or services. You should then associate your business listing with relevant categories, specifically ones that ‘describe what your business is’. This means using Categories like ‘Chinese Restaurant’ instead of ‘chinese food’. Category choices are more important than you might give them credit for, they could be the deciding factor between you and competitors! Finally, upload some good quality pictures to your Google my Business profile, while this won’t directly affect SEO, it will definitely be a persuasive tool to draw people in.
This last strategy seems so obvious, but so many sites are not designed to be mobile-friendly which can seriously affect rankings, specifically with voice search. Aside from voice searches on voice assistants, mobile voice searches are a huge portion of voice searches overall. There are a number of things that affect mobile friendly design, the most important of which is responsiveness. The platform or software you use to design your site will affect this, but most WordPress themes are perfect for mobile devices. A handy tool to test this is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool which you can find here. This super handy test will also highlight any load-time issues with your site, highlighting specific issues or errors you might need to address!
Answer your Customer Questions with content!
This again, seems pretty obvious but now we have to think about keywords in spoken language rather than written language.This can be a slow process but listening to the way people speak about you and gathering key phrases and questions, you will eventually see patterns, which then becomes your content base! The common mistake companies make is relying on a FAQ page, which is by all means useful, but if you can expand each question into a fully fledged blog post and provide detailed answers or solutions, you’re on to a winner for voice search. This could also mean going back through existing content like blog posts, and switching them up to be more optimised for voice search results!
It goes without saying that the future is big for voice search, with more and more people adopting it day by day. This means as marketers, we have to adopt and adapt. Get familiar with the technology and keep up with the trends as they happen. Marketing is not, and never will be a field where you can stay static. Keep upskilling, reading and innovating as technology moves forward. For now, voice search is where you need to be!