Google’s Voice Search was initially a Google labs feature. On June 14, 2011, Google announced at its Inside Google Search, Google Voice was coming to desktop with the goal of making voice search ubiquitous.
Then, Google Assistant happened, and now you have voice search available all around. Google’s new technology has changed how people search on the search engine and, in turn, how SEO works and will continue to change how to optimise for voice search.
While we are still clear about what constitutes a good SEO strategy, it’s no secret that its definition and purpose are driven forwards by new trends like voice search. We will talk about how you can optimise your business for voice search later in the post, first, let’s take a look at how to optimise for voice search basics.
How many searches are voice searches?
Around 60% of Google searches are carried out on mobile (per Hitwise), so if we use Google’s most recent stat that 1 in every 5 mobile searches is carried out via voice, that means about 12% of all Google searches (420 million searches) are mobile voice queries. 26 Jul 2018!
What is Google Assistant?
Google Assistant leverages the features of Voice Search and introduces conversational techniques to complete tasks. It’s similar to Apple’s Siri. You can set alarms, play music and even control smart home appliances. So, you can ask Google Assistant to turn off the lights or switch on the TV – if you’ve IoT-enabled devices in your home.
Google Assistant can handle a wide variety of questions as it sources the answer based on its Google search network. You also get an answer to your question without being redirect to websites.
Google Assistant is also designed for task completion with AI technology. You can ask Google to list the movies playing at theaters and then use the same platform to book tickets.
What is Google Voice Search?
Voice Search uses speech recognition technology to search the web. You can use voice commands to search for information, know the weather, get directions and create reminders.
You can access Voice Search by going to the Google app or in the Chrome browser on your device. Then just hit the microphone icon or say “OK Google” to activate the Voice Search and speak out your query.
Voice Search is not capable of completing complex tasks like Google Assistant. The technology just uses information from different search engines to answer your queries.
What is Google Home?
Google Home is a smart speaker which has Google Assistant built in. You can directly issue voice commands to the speaker which also recognises your voice to remind you about meetings and schedules.
You just need to say “Hey Google” to get answers, plan your day, manage tasks, enjoy entertainment and control your home. The speaker can also be used to listen to music like a regular speaker.
Speakers like Google Home are high in demand, as Gartner predicts 30% of all searches by 2020, will happen without a screen.
Time needed: 6 minutes.
How to Optimise for Voice Search?
Voice search brings more work for the SEO professionals as they have to find out new ways to nail the ranking. Here’s how you can optimise your business for voice searches.
Create Your Google My Business Listing
97% consumers are looking for local services and products, yet only 37% of businesses have gone for local business listings on a search engine. You can gain an edge over the competition by creating your Google My Business listing.
Listing your business in Google increases your chances of popping up on voice searches and also improves your local search rankings. By providing more accurate information about your business like industry, operating hours, address and more, you can help Google out with all the required information to resolve queries.
Google My Business listing also gives you visibility on Google Maps and increases the chances of featuring in the ‘3-pack’ business listings that appear on top of Google SERPs.
Shift to Conversational Keywords
Should you follow the same keyword strategy for voice search as you did for web searches?
The answer is, No! You need to use conversational keywords that resemble how people converse and ask questions verbally. For instance, if someone is searching for restaurants in London, he might type, “dinner in London.” But in case of voice search, the query may change to “What restaurants are open in London“.
You can keep track of the questions your customers ask over phone or email and create content around them. Google Keyword Planner can also help you discover the top conversational keywords to use. The answer ‘snippets” on Google SERP are also ideal to form an idea about what people are asking.
Conversational keywords are crucial, as 70% queries processed by Google Assistant use natural or conversational language instead of keywords.
Take Advantage of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Pages
FAQ pages not only satisfy the curiosity of your customers but also improves your SEO and website traffic. The resource takes on an important role in case of voice searches and provides the perfect opportunity to use the conversational keywords.
Use the actual questions put forward by users and customers as your FAQ headers. Answer them in a simple and concise manner to increase your chances of featuring in Google SERP snippets.
Voice searches are highly specific in nature. For example, text-based searches like “best sports shoes” are being replaced by specific queries like “what is the best shoe for running on gravel“. So don’t be hesitant to get into the specifics that answer the questions accurately to feature on voice search results.
Try to group the common FAQs on the same page. You can create separate FAQ pages for different topics so that Google finds it easy to retrieve information from your website.
Structured Data for Voice Search
Using structured data markup may increase your chances of appearing in featured answers and snippets. Structured data helps Google to contextualise the page’s content and effectively parse and serve data to end users. It’s right for articles and web pages dealing with a specific question or issue.
Although, there is yet no specific schema markup or structured data for direct answers or featured snippets. Voice search and Google Assistant can benefit from Speakable, FAQ and QA structured data, but still early days.
Voice is the Future of Search
By 2020, voice searches will apparently account for 50% of all searches. It’s 2019 and we are already in the future with voice search taking over text-based searches. Voice search is here to stay and as a business, you need to adapt to the new changes to improve rankings and visibility.
This will mean in SEO the need to focus more on user intent, conversational and topical optimisation and less on run of the mill link building and keyword rich anchor text. Google’s AI with Rankbrain included will continue to better understand what users need rather than look for the exact words they used.
Pedro specialises in SEO and WordPress, with 15 years in digital including various agencies, academia and running a very successful SEO consultancy since 2010. Pedro his an avid 10K runner and enjoys escaping to the sun, volcanoes and squash.
SEO, paid search and content marketing boutique specialising in long-term strategies.