SEO For Voice Search 2018

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

mobile searchOne of the humongous opportunities looming on the technological horizon has been the rise of voice recognition. While the concept of sending emails, commenting on social media, searching for your favourite restaurant or getting directions purely by speaking to your device is not new, it hasn’t previously reached critical mass by being deployed on the right technology platform.

In 2018 we are seeing a growing surge in the number of people using voice search on an everyday basis; in the car, the office, at home and while out and about. Moving forward voice search is set to change the way we interact with computers on a fundamental level, providing more human-like interaction and going some way towards closing the interaction gap between people and technology.

How To Access Voice Search

The way you access voice search capabilities will depend on the app you are using and to some extent your device. Within Google’s Web Browser Chrome for example, a microphone icon in the search bar allows the activation of search by voice. See here for more detail on activating Google Voice Search for iOS and Android within Google Chrome.

There are also a number of Personal Assistant apps specialising in using voice commands. These include the well-known Siri for iOS platforms, Bixby for Samsung devices, Cortana by Microsoft and Google Assistant which works across any platform, just to name a few.

Why SEO For Voice Search Is Important

Input via voice command is out there and already happening, but exactly how big is voice search in 2018? When researching voice search statistics it quickly becomes clear it is difficult to ascertain up-to-date and accurate voice search volumes. According to voice-enabled application developers Alpine.AI, a conservative estimate of over a billion voice searches are occurring per month as of January 2018.

A general consensus also appears to be emerging that voice search queries will make up over half of all online searches over the next couple of years, up from 20% in 2016 (SearchEngineLand.com). From this information it is clear why optimising for voice search sooner rather than later has become the focus for many SEO experts.

What Is Behind The Increase In Voice Search Popularity?

The simple reality is people can talk much faster and with less effort than they can type. Using voice commands provides people with a convenience and ease of use not yet seen in the industry. This integration of speech recognition instead of the traditional ‘typing’ is set to revolutionise the way we interact with our devices and in particular how we search for things on the internet.

Technologies like hands-free driving have had a big influence on the number of people taking to the voice search trend, along with an increased interest in home automation, mobile phones pre-loaded with personal assistant apps and at-home voice activation speakers.

However driving the voice command movement from the opposite end is the increasing desire of developers, web designers and Search Engine Optimisation experts to focus on creating a positive user experience.

How To Optimise Your Website For Voice Search

Just like the transition to mobile friendly search practices, there is likely to be differences between voice search and typed search behaviours which will most certainly affect website optimisation techniques. Here are a few things to keep in mind when optimising for voice search.

  • Longer Question Based Phrases Are More Common In Voice Searches. Think who, why, when, where, how and what, and in a more conversational tone with a greater amount of words overall. For example when typing a query about finding a restaurant you might use the words “best restaurants in Christchurch” however in a voice search, a more conversational sentence is likely such as “where can I go for dinner tonight”.
  • Near Me Or Local Search Is Even More Important. Tying in with the increasing use of voice search on mobile devices, on-the-go searchers are still looking for answers near their current location. Using the restaurant example above the search criteria could include specific location details, nearby land marks or prominent businesses and words local people use to describe your location.
  • Page Speeds Are Crucial. When performing any search people want quick and relevant results. Trends show voice searchers tend to want these results immediately. Voice searchers operating in the ‘now’ want your contact details, how to find you, opening hours and want to know if your service/product details will meet their needs right now. There is little patience for lengthy load times and delays. For tips and to get an idea of page speeds for your site take a look at Google’s PageSpeed Insights here.
  • Optimise For Featured Snippets. According to Backlinko.com appearing in one of Google’s ‘Featured Snippets’ may improve voice search ranking. They found “40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet”. When optimising for snippets they also found clear, concise answers were preferred with 29 words the ideal length.
  • Voice Search May Mean Less Focus On Visual Content. The rules here are stick to simple, easy to understand content, while adding a more conversational tone and a possible reduced need for visual references. The very nature of voice search could mean less emphasis is placed on a web page’s visual aspects when determining its ranking, particularly for images that cannot be easily interpreted.
  • Exact Keyword Matching In Title Tags Is Not Necessary. According to Backlinko.com a very small portion of voice search results use exact keyword matching in their title tags. Specifically for voice search, Google appears to be drawing more from the entire page content than focusing on the page titles. This is likely due to the fact that voice searches are significantly longer than text based searches, meaning exact phrase matching is far more unlikely when limited to title text.

Need help understanding how to optimise for voice search in 2018? Or why SEO for voice search is important? Contact the friendly team at Avatar today.

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Mark started working in the Internet industry in 1994. He went on to startup New Zealand Tourism Online, Avatar and other companies. Mark enjoys meeting with clients and strategising online marketing solutions.

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