As programs become better at processing human speech, more and more people are turning to Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant to answer their queries instead of manually typing a query into a device. This is known as a ‘voice search’.
Currently, 40% of adults perform a voice search once per day, and it has been predicted that by 2020 50% of all searches will be voice searches. This has huge implications for the future of SEO and how marketers will have to plan their strategies for the channel.
Most people do not type the way that they speak, so websites currently optimised to rank highly on SERPs may not be as easily found for a voice search. As such, the way we optimise websites for SEO is likely to change in the coming years. The following are some of the specific things to be aware of now, that are likely to affect your website into the future.
Mobile-First will be Key for Websites
Most marketers already know that having a mobile site is no longer an option; it’s vital. If your site doesn’t load quickly or doesn’t look right on a mobile device, people will leave. This means a high bounce rate, which negatively affects your organic rankings on current SERPs. With voice search, even more emphasis will be placed on having a mobile-friendly site, as voice searches are primarily conducted on mobile devices.
In addition, mobile voice searches are 3 times more likely to be local-based than text searches so optimising your site for your local branches will also help with your voice search strategy.
Semantic Search will be More Important
To deliver the most relevant search results for an individual, Google uses a number of other factors besides the keywords to determine what it thinks the person is looking for. This includes things like the user’s location, previous searches or patterns of searches. For example, if you are searching for [movies Sydney] from a device in Sydney, Google understands that you’re more likely to be looking for movie times in Sydney, rather than movies about Sydney. This is known as ‘semantic search’. Without semantic search, either result would make sense based on the keywords.
People are more conversational when they are using voice search, so semantic cues will become even more important. On-site content should account for this by optimizing for relevant, long-tail keywords.
Focus on Writing Content for Customers, Not Search Engines
The days of boring, keyword-stuffed content are long gone. Voice search will make this practice seem even more out-dated as it places further emphasis on optimising content for customers and not the search engines.
Listening to your customers and framing content around the questions they are most likely to ask your business will be key to creating SEO friendly content for your site. A great way to do this is to answer frequently asked questions through detailed blog posts or address them on product pages.
Focus on ‘Featured Snippets’ to Increase through Rich Answer Boxes
Featured snippets are shown at the top of the Google search result, above organic listings. They are taken from any website on page one of the results and provide a quick answer to a search query, without the user having to visit the website. Google uses these featured snippets, also known as ‘Answer Boxes’ to respond to voice search queries. While the search engine doesn’t necessarily send traffic to the website, it does give brands credit for providing the answer on both regular and voice search.
To be selected as a featured snippet, make your content easy for Google to read and understand by inserting the question in header tags, and providing a short, to the point answer. Bulleted information is also excellent for featured snippets.
Directories and Review Sites Will Become More Important for Local Search
When consumers search for local businesses, they will typically ask for ‘Best [insert type of business] near me’. Directories and review websites dominate these types of searches and will be instrumental in local SEO efforts going forward.
The same can be said for Google My Business. A Google My Business account will be necessary for any business to survive the voice search revolution, particularly for searches carried out on Google devices. Ensure your listing is up to date and provides as much information as possible about your business with opening hours, services, photos and positive reviews.
Brand Names May Start to Evolve
By 2020, about 30% of all searches will be done without a screen. For voice searches, Google starts giving an answer by saying “According to [site name]” or “We found this information on [site name].” This means that brands in the search results will benefit from increased brand awareness. However, because the website’s name is read out loud, it is vital that it’s pronounceable. This is also known as the ‘Radio Test’, which refers to people being able to hear your brand name, understand it and recall it later. Brands will have to check that a voice assistant can pronounce their name correctly.
The Lead Agency is a B2B Marketing Agency, specialising in a range of both on and offline channels including B2B SEO. Get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help your business with your next marketing campaign.