Voice search was first introduced in 2010 and since then has grown in spades. Clear indicators of this growth include even Google’s algorithms over the past decade or so, including that of Hummingbird in 2013, which emphasised long-tail query optimisation and the use of long questions for speech.
Marketers who have been proactive with their strategies will have already improved their content visibility significantly but those who haven’t will most likely be finding it difficult to get the performance reward they desire from Google.
Studies suggest that by 2020 half of searches will be conducted by voice. And because voice-search devices automatically read out the first result they find in the SERPs, it’s obvious that the need to secure that first or ‘zero’ position will soar.
For those that are interested in ensuring they are able to keep up with the voice-search related demands of SEO, this article by Forbes is incredibly useful. Below is a summary of some of the factors that can help your strategy.
Featured snippets are the boxes of information that sometimes appear right at the top of organic listings. Google rewards the content that best answers a query and ranks it in position 0, highlighting a snippet of the content in a box to ensure it stands out to users. This is the kind of content that voice-search devices will read out upon being asked a question. So to maximise your chance of ranking in voice search results, it’s key to focus on producing great quality content that fully answers a certain question – increasing your chances of getting that answer box result.
When creating content, you should be considering the user intent in order to increase the relevancy of your pages for different search queries. The three basic types of user intent are informational, navigational and commercial (or transactional). Understanding the type of intent means that it’s easier to produce content that will provide your audience with an immediate answer.
When people are searching for information using voice assistants, they usually much use the same or similar language to if they were talking to humans. We don’t search using short keywords, instead we use longer phrases. If a user is searching for coffee in London, they would most likely type ‘the best coffee in London’. However, when it comes to voice search, the language is more natural. Of course, for it to work users would need to start with ‘Hey Google…’ or ‘Hey Siri…’. So, in this case the user would most likely ask ‘Hey Google, where can I drink the best coffee in London?’.
Structured data is used to assist search engines in crawling and reading your page. Adding schema mark up to your content helps machines to read your content better, your pages to appear in featured snippets and eventually in voice search. When structured data is implemented in rich snippets your content gets more chances to receive more click-through rates and drive traffic to your website.
There are several studies that suggest a good number of search queries are location-based. This isn’t surprising, as in a lot of cases users are using voice search to discover where they should go. A good example of this is the ‘near me’ phrase that people tend to say when they are voice searching something. With this in mind, it’s critical that businesses optimise their Google My Business listings.
Investing in voice search optimisation is not only helpful for improving your site’s online visibility, but it’s overall performance. For this reason, optimising your content now means that you’re more likely to be ahead of the curve and appear in those all-important voice search results in the future.