Ask anyone who deals in SEO for local businesses and the one thing they will all tell you is that search engine optimisation is constantly changing and it is important to keep up with these changes if you want to stay ahead of the game.
So, let's have a look at one of these changes and see exactly why the rise of voice search is having an impact on SEO and what you can do to benefit your business from the popularity of Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Home.
First things first
What is Voice Search and Why do we use it?
Voice Search uses voice recognition software to accurately produce results on SERPs which are relevant to the user's query. It is one of the fastest growing technologies around with many predicting that over half of search queries will use Voice Search by 2020. VSO as it is sometimes called is relatively new, however, there are some basic principles you can implement to ensure you get ahead of the competition and take advantage of this new phenomenon, which is most definitely here to stay.
Why do we use Voice Search?
We've all seen it people walking while typing furiously on their Smartphones, oblivious to oncoming pedestrians and sometimes even traffic, so much safer to tell Google what you want. Talking about traffic one of the most common places to utilise voice search is in the car when your hands are otherwise engaged, asking Google to find the nearest petrol station is a lot safer than trying to pull over and type in the query.
Who doesn't want to be more efficient? Speaking is much quicker than typing, on average most of us type around 40 words a minute while we can speak up to 150, this means we can include more information in the search we want and get more accurate results a lot faster. For example, you're on a business trip and want to find out the nearest hotel to your meeting, the closest restaurant, what the weather will be like? this can all be done in a fraction of the time using Voice Search than typing in numerous requests.
The keyboards on mobile devices can be tricky especially if you have chubby fingers, are wearing gloves or as in Asia, language is character based. Voice Search eliminates all those typing errors and in general, folk find it much easier to speak into their phones rather than type.
A recent survey found that most people use Voice Search while they are doing something else either cooking, watching TV or driving, with the improvement in voice recognition technology you can now ask Google what temperature the oven needs to be for the cake you are baking, without covering your phone in chocolate goo, or find a local electrician while not missing a crucial scene during your favourite soap opera.
Voice recognition is fantastic for people who suffer from disabilities, especially those who find typing difficult or suffer from conditions like dyslexia and find sentence structure and/or spelling a challenge. It can help those who have difficulty seeing the letters on tiny keyboards and can also reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI) a problem for many who spend the day clicking away at a keyboard.
How to Optimise your Website for Voice Search
The first thing to do when optimising your website for Voice Search is to understand how it is used and the best way to do this is to read the guides provided by Apple, Google, Amazon etc, this will give you information on the commands they prefer, what capabilities they have etc. Once you understand how people use these virtual assistants you will have a better idea how to capitalise on certain features.
- Answer questions
Most Voice searches ask questions, while some users will be searching for a specific product many will want to solve an issue and if you can provide the right answer you are more likely to be found. Incorporating FAQs and solving common problems associated with your industry into your content, can make a real difference when optimising your website for Voice Search. For instance, someone searching for a local plumber may ask "How do you unblock a drain?" "Why is my washing machine not spinning" getting ranked for those questions will have the added benefit of building your authority in your niche.
- Target long tail keywords
Most typed searches are succinct, while spoken searches tend to be longer and more conversational, with that in mind it is worth adding natural language and more long tail keywords into your content. A great tool for finding out questions relating to your industry is www.answerthepublic.com.
- Local listings/maps
Mobile voice searches are 3 X more probable to be local than typed in searches with many of them including the words "near me" and "close by" therefore it is essential that your local information is listed in the right places as well as being accurate and consistent throughout. Remember not all digital assistants take information from the same sources so you need to ensure you are on various digital platforms in order to be found.
Consumers want the best so it stands to reason that word will feature in a lot of voice searches now while it's not best practice to declare you are the greatest within your own content, there is no law to say others cannot give you praise, having reviews saying you are the best plumber, electrician, gardener in your local area will improve your ranking with google and make you more likely to be found for voice searches.
- Schema Markup
Schema Markup in its simplest term are codes that tell the search engines what your content means, not just what it says, so they can produce the best user experience. Using these codes especially the Schema location ones will help your organic SEO efforts as well as improving your visibility for voice searches.
5 ways Optimising your Website for Voice Search Will Benefit your Business
If you can quickly answer questions and solve issues related to your industry, these will be picked up by Google and a link to your website will be displayed when the answer is shown, meaning users can click onto the site for further information.
Direct Customers Your Way
If you have a physical location, optimising your website for voice search, results in the software pointing users to your location when they ask a question based on locality. For example, let’s say, “Where’s the nearest van hire company?”
Increase Brand Authority
If your website is considered a reliable source for answers by voice search, you will be
a) declared as the source (increasing your brand recognition)
b) increase your online authority (which will help your rankings)
c) gain more clicks which will support your organic SEO
Help Customers Decide
If a customer asks voice search about your company, the reviews you have can help them make that final decision to go ahead.
The more research you do into this new technology the more you will understand what search terms people use, in both spoken and typed searches and this information will only improve your sites content.
ComScore expect 50% of online searches will be made by voice by 2020. Digital assistants are here to stay and as the technology improves jumping from a voice search to a booking or transaction is not such a huge step. Remember, the majority of voice searches are done on mobile phones so it is essential your website is optimised for and mobile friendly, otherwise you will be missing out. You need to ensure that your business is ready for these future challenges and the opportunities that voice search will bring to your company.
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