By now, we’re all fairly familiar with the concept of voice search, whether as digital marketing experts or internet users. But to what extent should we believe the hype around how voice search is changing SEO? Do we need to drastically change our approach to search engine optimisation to accommodate this change in user behaviour? In this guide, we’ll walk you through what voice search is, and how you can incorporate it into your SEO strategy.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search uses speech recognition technology to allow users to submit a search query to the internet, and receive a result, using just voice commands. No typing required. Sometimes even without necessarily requiring a screen.
Whilst voice search is not a new trend, it is a trend which is predicted to grow. Voice-first devices are becoming increasingly prevalent in our lives; the 2017 Voice Report estimated that there were already 33 million voice-first devices in circulation.
By 2020 digital marketers predict 50% of all searches will be completed using voice and 30% of all web browsing sessions will be conducted without a screen.
In contrast though, a recent study by Higher Visibility reported that respondents used voice search less in 2018 than in 2017. It remains to be seen whether the oft-touted 50% prediction will come into fruition over the next 12 months.
How voice search is changing SEO
Regardless of how widespread voice search will become over the next 12 months, there’s no getting away from it being a powerful search medium and so, as marketers, it’s important we ensure our search strategies are up-to-date.
So, how should you approach voice search optimisation? Let’s first take a look at the main characteristics of voice search so we can understand how to tackle them.
Voice queries are generally longtail
Voice queries are generally longer than typed queries, and are more conversational in nature. Bear this in mind when writing your copy and utilise longtail keywords to meet the users’ needs.
Voice queries are more likely to be question-based
This is linked to the first point; not only are voice queries likely to be longer, but they’re also more likely to be question-based. To capture this traffic, you want to ensure you’re answering the questions being asked by your audience with onsite content.
Almost a quarter of voice queries are for local information
Almost a quarter of people using voice search are looking for information on local businesses. If your business has a physical presence, it’s important that your local information is kept up-to-date on Google My Business, and other local citation websites, to ensure your information can be picked up by voice search.
80% of voice search results are taken from featured snippets
Search Engine Land reports that around 80% of voice search results are taken from featured snippets, highlighting the importance of holding that lucrative ‘position zero’ in the search results.
How to Optimise for Voice Search
To optimise for voice search queries, and improve your chances of your website being returned as a search result, we recommend the following:
Use Schema mark-up:
Schema mark-up, also known as structured data, allows a website to tell search engines how data on the website should be organised. Whilst Schema doesn’t directly affect search rankings, it can help to influence and encourage the search engines to use a website’s information for voice queries and featured snippets.
Optimise for Local:
Ensuring Google My Business listings, and other local directories, contain up-to-date relevant business information (address, phone number, opening hours) is important for voice search. The information on Google My Business and other listings should be consistent with the contact information in a website’s footer, and on the contact page of a website. Google will rely on this information for any ‘near me’ type queries made using voice search.
Use longtail keywords:
Many voice searches are question-based, so using longtail keywords in website content is more important than ever. Incorporating these keywords into website content will make it far more likely to rank for specific searches and thus, be selected as a suitable response for a voice query.
Ensure your site is mobile-friendly:
The majority of voice searches are conducted on a mobile device, making it essential to have a website which is mobile-friendly.
Those are our top tips for voice search optimisation. If you have any questions on how to make your website voice search-ready, or if you have any other questions about SEO, please get in touch.