Voice search is providing both opportunity and change to the SEO landscape. This is because how you speak and how you type are different. With voice search becoming more popular every day, including daily usage by 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults, how can you optimise your keyword strategy?
Why is voice search so popular?
Mostly because of how easy it is. No hands required! But it also has a bit of a cool factor for younger users. It’s like having a conversation with AI (artificial intelligence). Also fueling its growth is that it now has a word error rate of around 8 percent. Technology has improved and grown more sophisticated. It can now more easily understand and recognise accents and speech patterns.
How it’s changing SEO
With the adoption of voice search, the future of SEO is conversational. When users interact with voice search, they are more likely to ask questions or make requests just as they would when speaking with a person. You might type, “best sushi Perth,” but you may ask, “What’s the best sushi in Perth?” Although these searches are certainly within the same broad idea, the details and phrasing make them different.
What about homonyms?
Homonyms are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. So you might perform a voice search using the word, “flour” and receive answers related to flowers. You can actually correct the voice search by spelling out the word.
How voice search impacts local SEO
Mobile devices know where you are as long as location services are activated. So when you ask for directions to the movie theatre, it will provide the one nearest to you.
Five tips to optimise your site for voice search
Now that you understand how voice search is changing SEO, it’s time to enhance your website.
1. Focus on long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are by nature more conversational and specific. Short keywords aren’t necessarily obsolete, but focusing more on long-tail can improve your rankings. Do your keyword research with specific phrases to determine where there’s an opportunity. Look for ones that are highly relevant to your brand, have significant volume and lower competition.
Also, perform research in a conversational tone. This may include the use of stop words like “and” or “of,” which are usually filtered out to derive meaning. You’ll need to understand when you should include them and when you shouldn’t. Voice search may have new implications for how these are handled.
2. Use schema markup
Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) embedded into a website to help search engines with context. The context allows a search engine to understand what your content means, not just what it says. Check out schema.org to learn more about the code and how to execute on your site.
3. Tailor location related content for voice
Directions to your location and XML sitemaps need to be readable for actual users and search engines. This type of information will often be the most sought related to voice searches, as discussed earlier with directions to a movie theatre.
4. Create content around Q&As
Voice search is often phrased as a question. Where? What? How? So, it’s a good idea to create content around questions and answers. Consider what are the most asked questions about your specific brand or industry. Use this to then do keyword research. If certain questions present opportunities, develop blogs or static pages around answering those questions. When users ask a question, it’s pretty clear to search engines their intent – they want an answer. When your content answers this question, it’s more likely to be returned in the results.
5. Claim and improve your business Google listing
Google will love you for it. It helps them learn more about your business, its category and locations. As many voice searches are localized, this increases your business’ chance of showing up in organic results. Google feels like it knows you and provides your listing as high result.
Now it’s time to perform an audit of your site and look for how you can improve your SEO strategy for voice search. Continue to evolve your SEO strategy for voice search regularly. Think about being conversational in everything you write. Search engines and humans will both benefit from this. Voice search will certainly on grow in adoption. Be prepared to ensure your content aligns with how users now search.