Are you using Google voice search on your phone or laptop? Did you optimize your website for voice search as well?
Times are changing and as a marketer you should be always up to speed with everything that happens over the Internet, adapt to the new technologies and of course, the way consumers behave. What is voice search and why it’s important to optimize your website for it?
Why is voice search important for SEO in 2018 and the years to follow?
Well, this article will answer these questions and at the same time, provide with some interesting facts and data marketers need in order to better understand the new trends in marketing and how to implement them as effective as possible.
The wind of change
Since the dawn of the World Wide Web, marketers spend most of their time optimizing their offers for the online audiences. And, one of the most important steps towards success is to invest time and money in content marketing and SEO. The two terms are related and inseparable, as valuable content can be one of the most powerful SEO tools. At the same time, we need SEO in order to drive the targeted audience to our pages and let them know we know the answer they are searching for.
Until recently, marketers had to optimize their web pages for traditional search queries, based on specific keywords and phrases that were rarely similar to the natural speech. Things are about to change, however, and they are about to change significantly, as voice search enters the mainstream and traditionally written commands tend to lose their appeal.
How important is voice search in today’s context?
Almost two years ago, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced during a Google I/O keynote something that most of the marketers already knew: According to him, about 20 percent of queries on Google’s mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches. That was however only the beginning.
According to a research cited by Search Engine Land, the voice search grows, as a trend, faster than anything else.
In many ways, this turn of events was to be expected, considering that most of today’s people use smartphones every day. It’s easier to speak to a handheld device and command a search query by voice than to write your keywords on its tiny screen with its tiny keyboard.
Hence, all the major software developers and mobile device producers invested in developing more accurate and more effective voice activated tools and personal assistants.
Siri, Cortana, Google Voice Search/Now, Viv, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, are today’s most important voice activated personal assistants and search tools. They are in an equal measure responsible for the voice search proliferation by training people to communicate verbally with their mobile devices and use their voices whenever they want to search or command something.
Based on these stats we can clearly see how important voice search is when it comes to website SEO. Your website needs to be ready for it.
Up to date with what’s different
When it comes to technology and online technology in special, things tend to change fast. And, sometimes, they change faster than our ability to keep track of them. If you want your website to be ready for voice search and generate a certain increase in visits coming from organic search results, you need to understand what changed within the search engine and how people use the new technology when they conduct online research.
(The above Graph shows the major difference between voice search and text search)
As you can clearly see and probably already know, text searches were always based upon specific keywords.
When we conduct a text based search, we do tend to eliminate the unrelated words and we reduce the speech to some basic keywords that are more likely to generate the result we need.
For instance, if you look for a cheap restaurant in New Jersey, you will only search for three or maybe four key words: “restaurant New Jersey” or, “cheap restaurant New Jersey”. You pick the first results and study them before making a decision on where to dine the next time you are in New Jersey.
Things are different when we speak.
Unlike text searches, we tend to do things more naturally. We talk with the machine as we are used to talking with each other. Therefore, the number of words we use tends to increase because phrases are now complete. The three or four words search query will thus become a complete phrase like “Where is the nearest cheap restaurants in New Jersey located?” or, “Which are the cheapest restaurants in New Jersey?”.
Why are people of today using voice search?
Up until recently, Google search was the most popular text search engine. Its popularity grew over the years up to the point when we refer to the action itself as to “Google for something/somebody”.
This is a huge number considering that the technology is no older than a couple of years. The same source estimates that the voice search market will grow by 2022 from $2 billion dollars today to no less than $40 billion.
These numbers, however, do not answer the “why” question, they only help us understand better the trend of the market. The answer comes from the way we, as consumers, understand our times and adapt to them.
We use smartphones.
We carry them around wherever we go. And, they helped us adapt to the mobile market easier as they evolved up to the point they are in many cases, better and faster than computers. While on the road, it’s easier to voice command than type. With time, we get used with this new features and forget all about the typing.
How to optimize your website for voice search?
In order to be successful as a marketer in 2018, as I have already stated in the first paragraphs, you need to adapt to the trends and give to your audience the means to find your website. While in the past your SEO strategy would have been focused on text search, now, you need to optimize your website and make it ready for position V.
What is position V?
Well, “position V is the featured voice search result read aloud by either Alexa, Google or any other voice search assistant,” said John Morabito who came up with the best definition you can find. In other words, it means that you need to optimize your pages for voice search as well and that everything depends on how you do it.
An optimized website will, of course, become more popular and will attract more visitors from organic search.
How can you do it? Well, here are some tips that will definitely help you with this task:
1. Optimize for page speed
This advice is not entirely related to voice search but nevertheless, it’s important and I will explain why:
Google favors the website that loads quickly. It favors them to the point that out of two similar websites, the one that loads the fastest gets to be first on the search results list. Therefore, speed is important for all types of searches, text based or voice based whatsoever.
Here, you can perform a quick test and analyze your website speed.
2. Secure your website with SSL
Apart from the speed, Google also favors websites that are secured and certified. It favors the websites that are can be trusted regardless of the industry they adhere to or whether they are eCommerce websites or just blogs. The HTTPS protocol ensures the visitor and the Google’s bot that your website can be trusted and as a consequence, that it complies with all the rules of the good online practices.
3. Create an FAQ page for your website
Remember what I have said earlier? Remember the major difference between text search and voice search? Well, if you want your website to be optimized for voice search, you should be able to provide answers to your readers. You need to answer some of the most common questions related to your industry, questions the users may ask verbally.
Here’s a great example from McDonalds Canada of a very well made FAQ page. It contains all questions posed by their audience and of course, a form on which you can pose your own questions.
4. Create long form content
SEO depends not only on the technology behind the website but also on the quality of your content. You need top notch articles that are valuable for your target audience. You need content that answers their questions and draws them to you. The better your content is, the more likely is that the search engines will rank it better and people will come to you and maybe, they will become regular readers.
I recently came across a great study made by serpIQ on the length of the content and the relationship between length and position in search results.
According to the study, the top 5 results in a search query are on an average, long articles ranging from 2450 words to 2300 words.
If you want an example, take a look at this article published on Patagonia.com’s blog.
5. Create short form content as well
While long for content is important if you want to gain influence and grow your pool of readers, short form content may also help you if you want to attract people who are searching for quick and short answers to some of their questions.
Here’s an example of the first page of Google search.
Observe how the first results are providing clear and short answers to the main question.
6. Use simple words and short sentences
Why simple words? Why short sentences? Well, people who use voice search, are asking simple questions, questions the AI may understand and translate into search results easily. The shortest the sentence with the answer, the more likely is that people who asked the question will read it first. If it’s a valid answer, then maybe they will also click on the link and visit the website. If you are concise and able to provide valuable information in simple and comprehensible words, then you are increasing your website chances to grow organically.
Take for example from Neil Patel’s blog. He writes long articles but he always uses simple words and short sentences, easy to read, easy to be understood and SEO friendly as well.
7. Be active on Social Media
Social media is one of the most important marketing tools in today’s online context. Almost all people are active members of at least one social media platform. They engage with their friends, read their news, plan their vacations and outdoor activities on Facebook. They are actively putting themselves in the job market on LinkedIn. They are sharing their precious moments on Instagram and the list can continue indefinitely. However, they are also engaging with brands and companies on social media. They ask questions, write reviews, buy products, share links, read the news and prospect the market on social platforms.
Therefore, if you find the inspiration to create content that has the potential to become viral, this may also be a great way to better market your website and grow its influence.
The more influent a website is, the more likely is for it to be placed higher in search results, voice search results included.
According to MOZ, viral content from social media is a valuable asset in SEO due to the fact that it generates a significant pool of backlinks to your page of origin. The more valuable backlinks to your website you have, the higher it will rank on search engines.
Also, if you want to rank high on social media regardless of whether your content is viral or not, try to remember the previous chapters and write your articles accordingly. Here’s a screenshot from Kissmetrics that will help you understand better the relationship between social media success and the two types of content: long form content and short form content.
8. Get to the top and try to stay there
I am referring of course to the top of the search results for all the keywords and phrases you want and need to rank high for.
Your business may depend on search engines. While is great to be there, it is better to be on the first page and of course, even better if you rank first.
All these above advice can help you rank better and maintain your website on top of the search lists. It’s important, however, to create valuable content for your readers on a constant basis and at the same time, to make sure you are able to answer most of their questions. Imagine what would you ask an expert if you would be needing information on a topic you master and make lists of all possible questions. Then, create short and long form articles that answer all these questions as good as possible.
The better your content is, the more likely it is for it to be shared and linked to other websites.
Thus, your rank grows but at the same time, so does your influence.
Voice search has become a trend nowadays and as a consequence, as a marketer, you need to adapt to it. In order to adapt and thrive in this new online context, you have to make sure your website is optimized for voice search.
All your SEO efforts should, therefore, be divided into two specific tasks. You can still optimize your website for traditional text searches but at the same time, you should optimize it for the voice searches.
Today, we’ve learned together what voice search is, why it matters and how to better optimize your web pages for it.
What do you think of this list and of voice search in particular? Did you intend to optimize your websites for it?