Since the creation of virtual assistants, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, search is becoming more about questions than keywords.
Just think: after all these years of training ourselves to express ourselves in very few words to traditional search engines, we’re going back to conversational searches. Forget search engine optimisation, we need to think about voice search optimisation.
Research from comScore concluded that more than half of searches will be spoken rather than typed by 2020. People won’t even need a screen to get their answers. That’s scary!
My feeling on voice search is that searching in a manner that we use to communicate with other humans helps to connect people with what they’re searching for. It makes you more confident in the answers provided and that is why voice search has much more intention than text search.
Many digital marketers I’ve spoken to about voice search are worried about how it’ll effect the industry. However, if somebody using voice search is much more likely to take action than if they typed their query, I say “bring it on!”
So after a few sentences we’ve already established that voice queries will become the main way people search online and that SEO will change as a result. That’s great, but you can get that information from anywhere.
We all know what voice search is, the name makes it obvious, but what we need to understand is how people use it. With that, we can define what people are searching for.
So, let’s break down voice search and explore user behaviour.
How People Use Voice Search
The first thing we need to explore is how people use voice search. Only then can we undertake voice search optimisation for our content.
The number one lesson to take away from this article today is this: We talk differently compared to how we type.
If you’ve ever used that Dragon dictation software (if you’re dyslexic, you’ve probably used something similar), you will notice how your writing style is very different compared to when you’re typing with your fingers. It’s much more conversational and how you would speak to another human being.
Let’s look at the difference in an example:
• Text Search: Terminator 6 release date
• Voice Search: When will Terminator 6 be released?
There are two things to notice from this example. The first is that the voice search is in the form of a question, rather than focusing on keywords. The other is that the voice search was longer than the text one. Both of these are important and I will discuss them later in the article.
A lot of people are already talking about the fact that voice searches use more long-tail keywords and are often in the form of a question. That information isn’t hard to find. However, what people aren’t talking about is semantic search.
This is a really big part of voice search, especially when you make multiple enquiries:
• When will Terminator 6 be released
• Who is directing Terminator 6?
• What else has he directed?
This is quite new for search engines, but the idea is that they will understand the intent behind a series of searches. Rather than simply providing an answer to the question being asked, search engines will try to provide content that will answer other questions you may ask.
What this means is that when you’re creating content to explain when Terminator 6 will be released, you should also think about answering other questions people might ask. This can include who the director is, which actors will be in the film, what the budget is and any additional background information within that content.
Simply put: If you think like two humans having a conversation, you’ll be able to work out what their next question will be and have relevant content ready for them.
What People Look For When Using Voice Search
I’m going to let my opinion be known as quickly as possible here: Voice search optimisation is incredibly important for local SEO.
The statistics don’t lie and according to BrightLocal, 74 percent of smartphone users perform a voice search for local businesses on a weekly basis.
That statistic is pretty important already, but don’t forget that the number of voice searches being made each day (which is already in the millions) is only going up.
Voice search is convenient. If you are driving somewhere, voice search means you can find out information without breaking the law. It’s handy to simple say “Alexa” rather than spending time trying to find your phone and then type in a question.
In addition, 32 percent of those using voice search for local businesses are doing it in order to buy directly from a local business. So it’s becoming a shopping assistant. With Christmas approaching (it’s not too soon, is it?), there are plenty of opportunities for content:
• Voice Search: What presents should I get for my wife this Christmas?
• Content Ideas:
- What presents your loved one is hoping you’ve bought her this Christmas
- Top present ideas for your wife this Christmas
- The perfect present you should get for your wife this Christmas
If you feel like you have a good understanding of the how and what behind voice search, I’ve done my job right. That means we can move onto voice search optimisation tips.
Voice Search Optimisation Tips
1. Target Long-Tail, Question-Based Keywords
This is the most oft-discussed voice search optimisation tip. As much as I’ve said that everybody talks about this, I completely acknowledge that it’s arguably the tip that will have the biggest impact.
The way you should think when targeting those keywords is how you can win Google’s featured snippet, which is often the response your voice assistant will provide to answer your question.
If you look at the already existing featured snippets for your target keywords, you should notice that the copy Google chooses is a short, concise paragraph. These paragraphs will include many of the keywords in the question.
You can use h2 headings to signal to the search engine that you are answering that specific question. That makes it very easy for Google to choose the correct content for their featured snippet.
2. Focus Plenty of your Efforts on Local SEO
As said before, voice search plays a big role in how people find local businesses. Finding information or buying from local businesses are two of the most common reasons for people doing a voice search.
Therefore, it should go without saying that paying plenty of attention to best local SEO practice is necessary for voice search optimisation.
What this means is that businesses need to make the most of their Google My Business listing. This is often where devices will gather information when people do a voice search with local intent.
Make sure your listing has all the information available that a customer may want to know. This includes opening hours, address and much more. By doing so, the information people need is readily available and, as a result, your conversion rate is higher.
As a final note, don’t forget to optimise your local listings to directly answer questions.
3. Keep Up-To-Date with Research and Trends
Voice search optimisation is a recent thing, meaning there is still much to discover.
Users are going to be the main influencers on the direction of voice search optimisation, so you need to keep track of their behaviours. Large organisations are conducting research all the time, so be sure to set up Google Alerts in order to discover new trends.
Also monitor the key questions being asked and the keywords within those questions in order to predict what else may be asked in the future. Remember what I said about semantic search? You need to be creating content that provides more than just an answer to that singular question. What else might your audience want to know?
Use tools such as Google Analytics to uncover how your audience is taking in content on their mobile devices. By doing so, you will be able to create content that is more likely to win clicks.
The most important thing to remember is that users are looking for a quick answer. Desktop users may prefer a longer version of your content, but those using voice search want you to give the answer as fast as possible. Consider using bullet points and short paragraphs in order to provide this. Don’t forget video content as well!
Voice Search Optimisation – Final Thoughts
I predict that voice search optimisation will change a lot over the coming years in order to provide users with the best experience possible. It is very important to keep up-to-date with the evolution of voice search, especially if you are a local business.
I wish you the best of luck with your efforts. This is a new and exciting time for the digital marketing industry and I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds. Just remember this vital question:
What questions are your customers asking?