How is voice search changing SEO?
Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google. The rise of home assistants, wearable tech devices and smart speaker functionality have made this series of bizarre names an integral part of most modern homes. It’s predicted that in 2020, over half of Google searches will be voice searches, and this figure is set to rise dramatically to around 80% by 2021.
What is voice search?
Voice search is the action of someone searching via a search engine using voice commands, rather than typing in their query. For example, to convert a measurement while cooking, you may say “Ok, Google – how many ounces of flour in 3 cups?” or during an argument with your partner, “Hey Siri, who played Batman in The Dark Knight Rises?”. Voice search often delivers quicker and more relevant results than picking up your phone and typing and can help to give you a quick answer when you’re on the go.
What difference does voice search make?
Two of the key considerations when looking at voice search are around long-tail keywords and the way we ask questions vs the way in which we type. We’ve all become accustomed to typing in ‘search-engine-friendly’ queries to get the answers we need quicker, but this isn’t always aligned with how we ask questions when we speak. If you’re looking for a nearby seafood restaurant, you might type into Google ‘Seafood restaurant near me’ or ‘Seafood restaurant [city]’, but a voice search may be more along the lines of “Which seafood restaurants are near me?”
Research has shown so far that voice searches are typically long-tail, and usually 5-8 words long, primarily using words such as How, Best and What. So it’s important to answer questions with your content – in this blog, for example, we’ve asked and answered, ‘What is voice search?’ instead of using a subheading that just says ‘Voice Search’, and we’ve provided a concise answer to this question!
How can SEO as we know it, help with ranking for voice search?
As with SEO now, it all starts with research. While we may use Keyword Planner and other tools to do our keyword research, new tools are being created all the time to help us identify which questions people are asking online, and the search volumes for these new search formats. A couple of simple methods for question research is to scour websites such as Quora and Reddit, to gauge how people ask questions relevant to your business.
It’s important to remember that, with voice search, only the first ranking answer will be used by Alexa/Siri/Google/Cortana, so it’s better to choose some niche questions to rank for, rather than trying to be all things to all people! Unfortunately with voice search, 2nd and 3rd place doesn’t cut it, so it’s important to pick your battles.
Finally, remember the fundamentals of SEO. Site speed will be more important than ever, as voice assistants need to deliver instant results, and as our reliance on them increases. Keep optimising for local searches (that means claiming your Google My Business account and using it!) as this will become even more important in the coming months and years with the rise of ‘near me’ searches, and make sure that your website copy answers questions in a clear and concise way – no one wants to hear Siri reciting War and Peace in response to a simple question!
We know this all sounds a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ve just got your head around the usual SEO techniques, but optimising for voice search will be the new normal. We’re always ahead of the SEO curve here at Verkeer, so be sure to send us a message and we can help you navigate the world of voice search in 2020!