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There is a lot of buzz in the digital marketing community around voice search and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a faster way to enter a search query, you can easily multi task, make hands-free searches and its fun. Today’s consumers crave information and they want it quickly which is why voice search is predicted to make up half of all searches by 2020. The question now, is what kind of impact does that have on SEO efforts and how can we maximize this opportunity to reach new customers.
Voice activated personal assistants such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant are popular for many reasons, but the top reasons for using voice search on mobile for users ages 16-34 include
- Its quicker than going to a website or using an app – 43%
- Can be used while driving or at other times when they can’t interact with their handset – 42%
- More fun than other search methods – 38%
- Easier than going to a website or using an app 38%
- A more accurate way of searching – 28%
- Didn’t like typing on their mobile phones – 21%
According to to Balazs Molner, the head of search marketing at Google Southeast Asia, the language your target market speaks will also have an influence on how many consumers use voice instead of desktop search. In countries where the prevalent language is character based many consumers will simply find it more difficult and time consuming to type in their queries. In these instances the voice search functions are utilized more often.
All users will adopt a shortened language when typing queries in the interests of efficiency. For example a user may type “Sydney weather” but when using voice type ask “What is the weather like in Sydney?” This doesn’t necessarily mean that the results will differ drastically per query as seen below.
This is because Google is very efficient at interpreting and understanding the user’s intent behind a search query. Thanks in part to the addition of Rankbrain an Artificial Intelligence system dedicated specifically to this task. Google is constantly working hard at updating its understanding of intent so that the best and most useful results can be provided to searchers efficiently and accurately.
Give the king a new throne!
If you work with a digital marketing or SEO expert then you will have already heard that content is king… and it still is. If you are already doing the right things with your content including focusing on answering a query for your users, including relevant information and making sure it is well written then you are on the track to being visible when these voice searches are made.
This is a great opportunity to refresh your content if it is not in line with SEO best practices, making sure you are really focussing on the kind of information your target consumers crave. Queries will be more conversation based through voice searches so FAQ pages are a great opportunity to target these additional queries and address the Who, What, Why, When, Where and How. Typed search users may be happy to browse a bit more than voice searchers, who are looking for their information very quickly. You will need to ensure when you create the content that you are appealing to both segments of your target market.
A key takeaway here is that voice search queries are additional to typed search queries, not a replacement. Although in many cases there can be instances where there are more voice searches made than typed ones for a particular query, Rand Fishkin states that “year to year, typed search has gone up as well. It didn’t stop paying to try and rank for these keywords. In fact, it paid more and more dividends. It’s just that voice search grew even faster.” We don’t want to neglect either potential avenue for an increase in revenue.
If you run a local business then citations are going to be more important to you than ever. Many users will do searches for things like “Pizza near me” and depending on the device and virtual voice assistant being utilised the local results fed to the consumer can come from a variety of channels including Google or Apple Maps. So its really important that you make sure that all of your information is up to date and relevant on all of your listings. Manually claim and then optimise these listings.
As you can see the “near me” queries have risen significantly over the last 5 years, don’t miss out on possible customers by ignoring avenues to capture the local traffic.
As time has passed the increased use of voice search has increased and with Google slashing its speech recognition error rate by more than 30% since 2012, this function is getting easier to use because of its accuracy. Does this mean SEO is dead? Not at all, you definitely need to continue to ensure you are following best practices for SEO and don’t ignore your content. Give your target users what they want and give it to them as quickly as you can so you can maximise on this new opportunity with voice searches.