Let’s play a little game. If you tell me what device you are using, I will guess who your best friend is. Don’t believe me? Okay, how many times today have you said “Ok Google” or asked Siri something? Probably every time you wanted to search for something online on your mobile or computer. Voice search is quickly pushing traditional search to the side and you need to be in that wagon. Want to learn how to optimize your website for voice search? Then keep reading this article.
What is Voice Search and how does it Work?
Virtual assistants are not a new thing actually. However, until recently they were more a point of jokes than actually useful. Well, with the new generation of VAs like Siri, Alexa, Cortana or Google Voice, things have started to change and now more and more people are using voice search to find what they need on the Internet.
Between 2008 and 2016, for instance, Google search queries went up 35 times according to Search Engine Watch. Just think about that incredible growth and opportunity to connect with your customers.
So what can voice search do and why are so many businesses interested in optimizing their websites for it?
To answer this question, you need to look at what people are using to search in the first place. Almost 60% of searches in the United States are now done on a mobile device, according to a report from Hitwise. There’s a good reason for this.
Mobile screens are not suitable for typing, for one. In fact, this can be a very frustrating endeavour. Nine out of ten times, you will make a typo and will have to start all over again. Plus, it’s slow and it’s just not a natural way for our brains to perform this type of action.
Voice search, on the other hand, is much more convenient. After all, people can speak much faster what your typing speed is and with voice search, they can do it on the move.
Are Marketers Prepared for Voice Search?
Your consumers are clearly ready for voice search and are using it already. But the question is, are you? Unfortunately, that may not yet be the case. According to BrightEdge, 62% of marketers had no plans for voice search in 2017, while on the other end, only 3% said that they are already implementing it.
That’s some very eye-opening statistics and goes to show you that, as far as voice search goes, marketers are not fully prepared to follow the obvious trend. However, they will have to if they want to meet their customer’s expectations.
And yes, this includes your business as well.
Voice Search is Better at Understanding what You Want
Voice search is inherently different from what you are used to with SEO. There are no keywords to type in and no algorithms to show you the best results. All you have to do is ask a question, like a normal human being would and you get the results.
For example, if you’re looking for a place to eat in Berlin, you would probably type in some keywords like:
- Berlin restaurants
- Restaurants in Berlin
- Berlin dining
What this would give you is probably just a list of places to eat in Berlin and that’s it. You would then have to go through each of them to find if there’s any near your location. After all, it’s a very big city and you’re hungry.
But voice search is understanding intent and context. Unlike keyword search, it understands the concept of “near me”, “nearby” and “close” as well as questions such as “who”, “where”, “how” or “why”.
In other words, you could ask “Where is the nearest restaurant?” and the device will direct you to a couple of restaurants close to you.
How to Prepare for Voice Search?
Voice search may not yet be perfect and there are some kinks here and there to fix. However you need to be smart and start preparing your site for it.
Here are a few pointers on how to optimize your website for voice search:
- Target long tail keywords
Consumers want to know who, why, where, how and when. Your website needs to focus on answering these questions by targeting long tail keywords instead of broad keywords if it wants to implement voice search.
- Answer questions
Voice assistants use conversational search queries to provide an answer to a question a user gives. This is the way humans have been doing ever since they learned how to speak and how machines are just learning to do now. By focusing on context and search intent, you will be able to provide much more accurate answers to the questions your consumers are asking.
- Go local with mobile
In order to prepare your site for voice search, you need to make sure it is first ready for mobile. Today, people are more likely to find your website on their mobile devices than on a desktop and you need to make sure you are ready for them.
For local businesses, voice search provides a great opportunity to reach new customers. All you need to do is make sure you are listed on Google, Yelp, Apple Maps or other services. Then, when people search for something and say, for instance “nearby”. the search engine is going to refer to one of these services and direct the customer to you.
Voice search is still a work in progress, but we can already see that customers want to use it to find something that they need. While we are still some way from the “death of the keyboard”, this is clearly a trend that companies would be wise to follow.
Big players like Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Apple have already stepped in with their virtual assistants. Now it’s time for your business to embrace voice search as well and actually start answering the questions your customers might have.
Did you like this article? Let me know in the comments below what you think SEO experts should know about how to optimize your website for voice search besides what I’ve said here.