The way people look for information online is changing radically.
More and more people are using voice searches on their smartphones, tablets or voice assistants (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home devices, which are becoming increasingly popular, even in Italy) to search for information on the Internet.
If you use an Apple device, you may have asked Siri for help.
Google’s voice search has instead been implemented on Android devices, while Microsoft’s Cortana is useful on your PC and smartphone thanks to their application.
According to recent data from Hitwise, almost 60% of searches are now carried out on a mobile device. As more and more people use mobile devices to search, people often find it easier to use their voice to search instead of typing on their device screens.
This means that SEO professionals need to start thinking differently about their website content and SEO.
Voice search is a hot topic among future-oriented SEO professionals.
During SMX West 2017 last month, Benu Aggarwal held a session entitled “Optimising content for voice search and virtual assistants”. _**During the session, he gave some great tips on how SEOs can plan a strategy that takes voice search into account.
Mobile devices, smartphones and smart devices with digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant are invading our lives.
These new voice devices and technologies make **it easier than ever for people to ask a simple question and get the information directly from their device.**
This allows for a more natural way to interact with machines, fostering the so-called **“conversational search”._
Using your voice you can now play music, turn on lights, search for a local restaurant or pizzeria, order products and receive information on any topic, from news to weather forecasts.
During his presentation at SMX West, Aggarwal shared the following statistics:
This slide shows the importance of mobile and local research.
But how do you enter voice search?
According to the latest data, it is rapidly gaining market share:
In 2015, about 1.7 million voice-first devices were shipped. In 2016, this number increased to 6.5 million devices. VoiceLabs expects 24.5 million such devices to be shipped in 2017.
The big question for SEO professionals is: How do you create an SEO content and strategy that intersects this new way of searching for information online?
Since search engines were first introduced in the mid-1990s, users have learned to use keywords to find information on the Internet using a PC.
Unlike search keywords typed on a computer, however, voice search is characterised by a more conversational and natural tone. Voice search is also typically mobile and often focused on the local.
Because they are more conversational, voice search queries are usually longer than text queries, as you can see from this image:
Credits for the photo: Purna Virji, quoting Bing data
It is important to remember that the goal of these new technologies is that the device provides the best results for on-the-go users. To do this, devices try to find easily identifiable, short and relevant pieces of content to give back to the searcher.
So here are some tips to help you optimise for voice search.
People use voice search to get the information they need. With an estimated 22% of searches for “local” content and information, local businesses (and local SEO agencies) need to start creating local voice search strategies.
If you haven’t claimed your presence on Google My Business yet, what are you waiting for? It’s time to do it!
This is a great way for Google to get more information about your business, such as the category it falls into, address, phone number, opening hours and more.
Because many voice searches are local in nature, complaining and updating Google My Business results can help increase your chances of appearing in Google search results when performing a voice search for your business, location or category of business.
Today, keywords are no longer simply keywords: in the world of voice search they can be called long-tail plus. The “plus” refers to all those phrases that you need to add when optimising for conversational voice search.
Your keyword strategy must now be more colloquial in nature and imitate the way people talk and ask questions verbally. You need to start thinking about the types of questions users tend to ask about your business and start documenting and recording the exact words they use when talking to customer service representatives.
Once you have a list of questions and statements that customers provide over the phone, you can start creating content pages that focus on longer, more conversational search queries.
A great way to use the above customer data is to create FAQ pages that focus on those long tail plus conversational phrases.
Try to group the most common questions on the same page.
You can opt for natural questions and phrases instead of the old SEO keywords that you usually use. If you need to create several pages so that voice search technologies are more likely to extrapolate information from your site, do so!
Also, you can anticipate more direct questions from users. Searches like “the best digital camera” will start to disappear in favour of ultra specific searches. For example: “Alexa, where can I find a waterproof camera that works with Facebook Live?”
Offer quick and concise answers to the questions that voice researchers ask.
It may seem redundant, but creating these pages and content fragments centred on specific questions that people ask can not only help your site appear in voice search results, but also increase the chances of publication within a Google highlight snippet.
Use the structured data, via the markup provided by schema.org, to give these voice search devices even more information about your site and its contents. The schema.org structured markup is essential for your website, as it helps you to define more specific information and helps search engines to accurately analyse the content of your website and understand its context.
Voice search is not disappearing, on the contrary.
It’s time for SEOs to start optimising their sites for this new world of voice search – so you don’t fall behind.