Voice Search SEO: 8 Unconventional Opinions That May Surprise You
by Ron Dod
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With phrases like “OK Google” and “Hey Siri” becoming ubiquitous all around us, it probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that voice search and SEO are more closely linked than ever before. Experts believe that by 2020, 30 percent of all searches will be conducted without a screen, and it’s estimated that 65 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 49 will speak into a voice-enabled device at least once a day. The takeaway is this: Voice may soon be the primary medium through which users discover your brand, and savvy marketers need to rapidly embrace it, with very few exceptions.
Why Users Love Voice Search
At its core, voice search appeals to users because it’s faster, easier and more convenient than typing a query into a mobile device or computer. These days, most of us interact with our phones and tablets while we’re using multiple devices at once or while we’re doing other things, so voice search is a convenient way to multitask hands-free. And since mobile has officially surpassed desktop as the preferred platform of the average user (60 percent of Google searches are now conducted via mobile device), it makes sense that voice is seeing sky-high growth at this moment.
So how does this affect SEO strategy? To put it simply, voice search improves the user experience (UX), and an improved user experience means higher SEO rankings. Google has begun to seriously prioritize websites that put a strong focus on user-friendliness, with measures like valuable content, fast page load speed and an overall smooth experience helping UX-focused brands rank higher on the search results page (SERP). Anything that you can do to stamp out user frustration when interacting with your website will indirectly support your SEO goals, including voice search.
Voice Search Opinions to Consider
With all this hype around voice, there’s a lot of misinformation and misguidance out there. We aim to arm you with the very best and most cutting-edge tools to help you strengthen your SEO strategy, and we encourage you to consider the following unconventional opinions on voice so that you’re ready for whatever the new generation of search throws your way. Our team is always available to help you kickstart your voice optimization program.
1. A Good Voice Strategy Isn’t Enough
We believe that this type of search deserves all the attention it has been getting in the SEO world in the past couple of years, but we also want to emphasize that it needs to be prioritized in addition to, not apart from, traditional SEO strategies. The main reasons for this are that people still use traditional search throughout the buyer’s journey (especially for more in-depth research during the consideration phase) and that Google still cares about many other ranking factors. Mobile friendliness, site speed and high-quality, well-optimized content are crucial.
2. Voice Search SEO Isn’t Just for the Big Guys
Even if you run a small business, you need to focus on optimizing your website for voice. In fact, one of the most common ways users implement voice search is to find information about local businesses, especially things like hours, prices, locations, reservations and product offerings. Because local businesses are highly targeted among voice searchers, small companies should actually place voice higher on the priority list compared with the big guys.
3. Not All Voice Searchers Use a Conversational Tone
Naturally, one of the best ways to optimize for voice search is to consider the phrasing voice searchers tend to use, which, the thinking goes, differs widely from the phrasing of users typing their queries. Often, the experts emphasize the need to optimize for long-tail keywords, since users tend to be more long-winded with voice. The truth is that users haven’t yet fully adjusted to a world where they feel 100 percent confident using natural language when speaking to a computer, and many users simply use their voice to say what they would type.
4. The Major Exception to the Rule: Questions
When querying Google, Siri, Alexa, etc. with a who, what, where, when or why, we tend to use the conversational question format (example: “What is the largest state in America?” instead of “largest state in America.”) the vast majority of the time, and therefore should optimize for question-based keywords and phrases. At the same time, search algorithms are becoming smarter every day, and they can usually surmise the search intent behind a specific query regardless of how it’s formatted. To sum it up, a keyword strategy that accommodates for both traditional and long-tail keywords is best, but you should also focus on honing a content marketing strategy with blog posts and on-page content that caters to answering questions.
5. Site Speed Is Even More Critical with Voice Search
As we’ve already covered, when optimizing your eCommerce site for voice search,you can’t underestimate the vital measures of good UX, especially site speed. Investing in faster servers and optimizing your website for speed will help signal to Google that your page offers a positive UX, which will help you rank higher. You have to assume that voice searchers are in more of a hurry than their touch-searching counterparts, so it’s even more important to ensure speediness with this search style.
6. People Use Voice on More Than Just Home Assistant Speakers
We tend to think that users primarily conduct voice searches through home assistant devices, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo, or even through smart appliances like Samsung TVs and fridges. But the truth is that a good chunk of people still search online the old-fashioned voice search way—by pulling up the Amazon or Google app or typing it into their smartphone’s browser and using the voice recognition option. This means that users use voice for much more than just quick answers and commands, and this is definitely something modern marketers need to consider when planning their optimization strategies.
7. Every Kind of Company Should Optimize for Voice
There’s a common misconception that voice search is only relevant to consumer-facing industries, but the truth is that they pervade almost all corners of the market, including both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). In fact, many B2B businesses may be missing out on big voice-related opportunities that could help them grow their brand. Some of the biggest trends in B2B marketing as a whole are shifting to more user-friendly practices and focusing on intuitive designs that are similar to those we’re used to seeing in the consumer-facing market, and voice SEO should follow suit.
8. Voice Search Is Implemented by All Demographics
Indeed, understanding the demographics of your target audience—especially age, gender and income—can help you build a more targeted SEO strategy that caters to your specific user. But voice search appears to be one of those activities that defies the demographic odds, with people at virtually every age group and of every gender and income level using this tool to acquire information on a daily or weekly basis. There are very few groups that wouldn’t benefit from a marketing strategy that takes voice search into account, so don’t let your target audience deter you from building this in.
Voice Search Isn’t Just a Passing Trend
If you think that voice search is just a passing trend that won’t have staying power, we encourage you to reconsider your stance. According to the latest data, about half of online searches will be performed via voice by 2020 and there are over 120 million smart speakers in the United States. Though experts do predict that these numbers will climb even higher in the coming years, even if they don’t, you stand to miss out on a big chunk of the market if you don’t ready your site for voice as part of your modern SEO strategy.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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