Voice search was once just a part of a futuristic, sci-fi movie – that’s all in the past now. Much like when encyclopedias were cool until the introduction of digital search engines. Bit by bit, the nature of those search engines took several forms and developed over the last decade until they’ve reached their latest feature; voice searching. Using voice commands was the inevitable evolution of digital searching. This convenient function has been and still is, undergoing constant developments and adjustments to familiarise and cope with users’ daily needs. Aside from the obvious advantages of moving along the tides of voice searching, there have been several changes made to nature and the strategies used to develop good search engine optimization and web content creation. From the hows and whys that resulted in the rise of voice search to how it exponentially grew in the past couple of years, more specifically, when Google launched it in its Chrome browser.  People use voice searching differently. The functionality is not limited to just one segment of the smart devices users. The demographics, timing, and the purpose of the search sometimes dictate the usage of voice or not as well. Here are the ultimate nuts and bolts for voice searching; enabling it, adjusting it, even to limiting its capabilities.

What is Voice Search?

It’s a revolutionary power that is taking over search engines. It uses speech recognition to look up everything on the web. It enables a faster, more convenient search method that successfully replaces typing. The versatilities of voice search are truly remarkable. Users can even dictate their essays, comments on social media outlets, and more. To be put on the voice search map, users’ devices must contain microphones. Voice searching comes by default with these devices: Google, Wikipedia, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo. According to Google, 41 percent of adults use voice search on a daily basis, with 56 percent admitting it makes them “feel tech-savvy.” As for teens, a solid 55 percent of them like voice search.

How does Google Summarise Searches?

According to this paper titled “Sentence Compression by Deletion with LSTMs”, researchers state: “Our results clearly indicate that a compression model which is not given syntactic information explicitly in the form of features may still achieve competitive performance. The high readability and informativeness scores assigned by human raters support this claim.” Google Assistant noted four main elements that summarise their voice search process and correspond to their various algorithms. Of course, further elements were later introduced but these four comprise the essential ones; Length, User Satisfaction, Grammatical Correctness, and Elocution.

Advantages of Voice Search in SEO

Amazon Alexa activates to the the query infographic
Amazon Alexa activates to the the query. Credit: ProfileTree.com
The Internet has made everything always abundant to users, all the time. Therefore, users have grown into shorter attention and patience spans. A great asset for business and service owners today is to equip their websites with voice search. Not only is it an attractive addition and a way to cope with what users want, but also a value that will increase the website’s traffic, improve ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). All popular and best-selling social media and services platforms have included voice search in their gadgets. Why? Because they realise the huge potential it carries and how it can significantly assist in dictating SEO rankings. The need for this type of search rose prominently after the introduction of Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana – now, users can get digital assistance anywhere. John Mueller of Google talked about optimising content for voice search in a Webmaster Central Hangout. He said: “Really kind of focus more on trying to make it so that Google and other search engines can understand the context of information a lot better and to make sure that your content is written in a way that can be read aloud. Which I think is general guidance anyway.” Website owners should approach voice search as an opportunity to back up the business’s brand and content strategies. A detailed process which will be discussed thoroughly in this guide.

How Can Websites Benefit from Voice Search?

Obviously, the main benefit of voice search is offering a new source of web traffic. With that in mind, here are some actionable steps you can take to gain more users from voice search.

Using Long-Tail Keywords

Specialists understand that good SEO has to have long-tail keywords. These are three-to-four worded keywords that are extremely peculiar, allowing users to find exactly what they’re looking for, instead of getting lots of irrelevant answers. Before understanding why long-tail keywords matter so much. It’s important to note the difference in the attitudes between typing and voice search users. The former is usually trying to type short keywords or sentences, while the latter is solely speaking, thus, given greater ease and freedom to use very specific sentences or questions in a short time span.

Curate Specific Blogs and Articles

These specific articles enable website owners to focus more on utilizing long-tail keyword phrases. Search engines do not pick up results from vague content, thus, it is better for content creators to conduct extensive research on the most commonly searched topics and curate questions that the audience might think of. This method will intensify the probability that a search engine will show the articles in their SERPs. Forbes advises website owners to use Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool pin high-volume keyword phrases and include them in the articles.

Do Not Neglect Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

After comprehending what customers and website visitors will typically search for. Website owners and marketing strategists should also focus on FAQs. These questions naturally differ between businesses or even between several pages on the same websites.

Why Are FAQs Essential?

FAQs were created for the sole purpose of reducing the time wasted on asking binary questions over and over. Regardless of the type of business one’s running, there are always a couple of inquiries that operation teams swear they receive every other day. FAQs sections, also called help centres, might be the most important section of any website. FAQ pages should seldom stop collecting complaints and responses to their audience’s questions. This information comprises the basis of any good, easily searchable page.

How can Entrepreneurs use Voice Search?

Entrepreneurs and young business owners use knowledge of the market trends and the audience to put their businesses forward and how they strategise their SEO is no different. When voice search became popular, marketers and content specialists quickly grasped the how-tos and potential pitfalls websites should note. According to Entrepreneur, brands and advertisers should at least include these following points while cultivating good voice search keywords and SEO.
  1. Keyword portfolio has coverage for long-tail phrases in command form.
  2. The portfolio has coverage for long-tail queries in the question form.
  3. The inclusion of common description words is key. (e.g. “best”, “top”).
  4. Prepare for conversational searches instead of formal searches.
  5. Take short notes from previous customers’ experiences, questions, and complaints.
  6. Use topics that already have a good ranking and start optimizing from there.

How does Voice Search Impact SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is designed to give users the most useful information from their query. A billion searches were performed via voice search in January 2018 alone, which clarifies that SEO will naturally be affected. The length of the queries is going to change. In a text-based context, one would use a maximum of two to three words. Voice search, due to it being conversational in tone, will be mostly longer than ten words. More than 20% of voice searches are triggered by a combination of 25 words. People will use their natural language, rather than type up keywords to gauge a response, so SEO should be tailored to this type of delivery. Questions now have clear intent, as this format demands specific information. Optimising your content with greater context will push your business higher in the SEO rankings creating more traffic on your website.
Voice search with Google Home speaker
Google Home is a speaker that uses Google Assistant to answer your queries and to handle tasks via Google Actions. Credit: Bence Boros

Keywords and Phrases – the Backbone of Voice Search.

Due to the incredible capabilities of AI, search engines such as Google can work with finesse to deliver quality content to the user using voice search. Even though tone may still be conversational, keywords still have a part to play in delivering your content to your target audience. Long-tail keywords can maximise your exposure. Long-tail keywords are three or four keywords that are very specific to whatever product you are selling. The most effective long-tail keywords include location, as voice searches cleverly consider the local area, and thus, local businesses. On that note, being specific about these is important as voice interactions usually are conducted who need information quickly. This means the value of being the first search result has increased significantly. It is crucial to be as relevant as possible to the query to feature as the number one search result. By noticing patterns in voice searches, you can hone your business towards these results.

How Can I Optimise my Business for Voice Search?

While long-tail keywords are vital in optimising voice search, there are other factors of equal importance which will also aid your endeavour to top the search results. Continuing the theme of language, using natural language as opposed to succinct keywords that perform well in desktop SEO is also a tip that will give your business an edge. Keeping phrases short and simple will also produce positive results with SEO. Writing with semantic search rather than focusing on keywords also encourages traffic to your site. Using blocks of content can be useful if featured snippets are used in search engines. Snippets are a summary answer from the web which usually encourages a consumer to click on the article. Another method of optimisation is Schema Markup. This is essentially structured data that integrates your web pages, helping search engines understand what your website is about. This will then give you a higher ranking than other companies that you are competing with. Geo-location is surprisingly important towards voice search SEO. 22% of voice search queries are looking for location-based content, so having your business’s correct details will make a difference. This includes your company name, perhaps opening hours, offices etc. If this is wrong, there is a possibility that Google will lower your ranking. Having a website that loads quickly is also important. If a website takes too long to sync or is constantly in error, you are losing potential clients. This can be done by compressing files and optimising your images. Making sure your site is navigable and responsive on mobile devices is also incredibly important, as voice search relies heavily on this technology.

Users: How do I Get Voice Search?

Voice Search has been automatically built-in Google Chrome since 2011. So, to enjoy this experience on a PC just download the browser and make sure the device (laptop, desktop) has a microphone. That’s it. Whenever there is a microphone symbol next to the search bar, this indicates voice search availability. Google has been striving to include voice search in its variation of apps, so far, voice search is fuelling Google Assistant, and it’s also available in Google Maps. Remember Google’s famous “Did you mean?” Thanks to that, Google will also automatically correct and recognise what users want to say and provide relevant answers. The worlds of web development and digital marketing are endorsing voice search big time, and for all the valid reasons. According to Katherine Watier: “Humans can speak 150 words per minute vs typing 40 words per minute.
Voice search with Amazon Alexa Image
Amazon Alexa is a digital assistant which allows you to place orders on Amazon or to answer your queries. Credit: Andres Urena
As a result, 43 percent of people say that using voice search is quicker than using a website or an app. In addition, 28 percent of people think that voice search is a more accurate way of searching.” Moreover, the introduction of voice search complicates the content creation process for businesses. Voice searching is a more evolved technique and has different metrics than that of searching via typing. This means being number two or three in the rankings isn’t good enough anymore. A lot of this has to do with the specific nature of voice search and the challenge it presents to sites optimized for typed searches.” Post typing or dictating a search, Google automatically shows a featured snippet with the answer. Users no longer have to visit the actual website to get results. Thanks to these relatively new graphs and snippets, organic clicks have dropped by 37 percent.

Voice Isn’t Everything

While the introduction of voice searching took the conventional methods by storm, still, it’s an undeniable fact that reading has its benefits. According to Yoast, when searching for long information, replies via voice are almost never the better option. The mind’s ability to receive data by listening alone can be very passive. However, reading provides much more control and capability to digest data. Businesses understand that mobile usage is not backing down. Therefore, optimising websites for mobile use became a huge must. Whether business owners plan on dedicating a lot of time and effort or just launching a basic online store for their products and services, they have to prioritise the following:
  1. Checking functionality on different mobile devices (Android phones, iPhones, iPads, and tablets).
  2. Customisation of SEO should be very detailed.
  3. Running their Voice Search option several times before going live.
  4. Constant reviewing and assessment.

Customised Optimisation

It is about noting down the trends and the most commonly used. Sentences and optimising right around them. The “___ near me” for instance is a great example of how people search for things online. Including these popular sentence structures and keywords will raise the website’s SERP ranking. This is very powerful in changing the entire scheme of search results and demolishing SERPs rules as websites always knew them. Finally, since it’s a highly-progressed outlet, it can correct spelling mistakes and comprehend colloquial speeches very feasibly.

Final Thoughts on Voice Search

Since voice accounts for about 60 percent of mobile searches. (Stone Temple) it’s only fair that trendsetting websites and businesses, as well as social media platforms, adjust their services to include voice search. However, inclusion by itself will not suffice. Voice searching is more or less a wave of change that is set to alter the methods used by developers and strategists to display, promote and benefit from their work. Voice searches are not backing down and the statistics will only get higher as time goes by. To maintain on top of the pyramid, specialists suggest that website owners start listening to the additions put forward. Filler words are back on the map. Short keyword phrases are out. Since dictation now is the dictator of the search, neglecting filler words in the website’s keywords counts as a big mistake and could potentially harm the website’s traffic and rankings. In addition to filler words, users must use local keywords to their advantage. This point is often forgotten however its impact on the relevance of the SEO content. By including local phrases and jargon along with basic region or city names, users maximise the optimisation of their curated copy. All in all, the voice search is here to stay. Not only because it’s adjustable on all devices and brings in a new, futuristic feel. Searching via voice commands is a lot quicker to conduct, therefore it retrieves results much faster. It’s advanced, implements artificial intelligence. It can considerably decrease bounce rates.

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