Voice search is not Marco Polo, it really isn’t.
The victory of mobile phone internet access over desktops, means that voice search has been a hot topic in the world of SEO for the last few years. With the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and imminent arrival of Apple’s HomePod, voice search is going to reach boiling point.
Below I’ve outlined why voice search is so important in the SEO world and why you need to be listening to the conversation.
What is SEO?
SEO is Search Engine Optimization. In short, it is the medium of seeking the highest ranking in the results produced by search engines (such as Yahoo, YouTube, and Google) when a user has made a search.
What is voice search?
The primary method for you to search for something using Google, or one of its peers, is by using typed words. This has been the way that such searches have happened since the advent of search engines. However, along with text, you are now able to search using images, and your voice. Voice search has been available on mobile through Google since 2008, but it was only in 2011 that Google began to roll out the service.
Now voice search is widely available and more than 50% of US teens and 41% of US adults use voice search on a daily basis. In addition to Google, the introduction of voice based technology like Alexa and Cortana means that voice search is here and it is here to stay.
Why is everyone talking about it?
It’s the numbers game. More people are accessing the internet through their mobile phones and the gap between desktops and mobiles is only growing. Voice search is a mobile domain and as usage of voice search rises, the need to take account of it in SEO strategy is ever greater. Some numbers for you to think about are:
- 70% of mobile users say that they use voice search at least once a month
- 50% of all searches are expected to be made by voice search in 2020
- In 2016 10 million voice search specific devices (Amazon Echo, and Google Home). This is number is expected to rise to 33 million by the close of 2017
Why do I need to listen to the conversation?
Whether you’ve built your site yourself, had it made by a web designer, or bought a ready-made site and bent it to your will, you need to be listening to the conversation because SEO matters to your site and voice search is changing SEO. Never mind whether your site is an ecommerce store, a business technology news hub, or a sports blog, it exists because you want people to visit it – if you didn’t want people to visit it then why else would it be there? SEO is about giving yourself the best possible ranking on search engines, so that you can increase your chances of receiving visitors
– 75% of users don’t go past the first page in Google’s search results and from that first page, the top ranked site takes 33% of the traffic, the second takes 15%, and the third 9%. Ranking matters –
What is the relevance of voice search to SEO?
There are a number of ways that voice search impacts on SEO:
One of the basic principles of SEO is keywords. Keywords are what search engines use in order to match what you have searched for with what they believe that you are asking for – this is why you will see a list of recommended options when you begin searching on Google:
But the keywords that Google uses for a text search are not the same as when you make a voice search:
- More long-tail keywords – for SEO this means that the searches become more conversational and less about specific words
- Questions, not statements – this means that for SEO, who, what, why, and where become very important
The growth of voice search has been pinpointed to the rise of mobile phones – think about it, are you as likely to speak into your PC as your phone? No. It just doesn’t seem right.
An increase in voice search means an even sharper emphasis on your site being mobile friendly is. The impact of this on SEO is:
- Prioritize load time – 3 seconds of load time is all that you have to convince most web searchers to select your site. If your site loads slowly, this will damage your SEO
- Don’t flash – flash is not something which is supported by most mobiles. If your site does use flash then search engines will penalize you, as you’ll been seen as offering a less attractive end result for searchers
When you make a voice search there’s a high chance that it will be to find a local business, picture that evening when you said: “Google, find me the nearest vegetarian restaurant.”
This means SEO will take even greater account of localized elements of your business and means that you should:
- Submit your sitemap to all relevant search engines
- Adding rich snippets and microdata to your site
- Ensure that the addresses for your site are correct on online business directories
There you have it. Voice search, it’s not Marco Polo. Instead, it’s the next wave of internet searching, which is already here and is only going to become a bigger feature of how you interact with Google, YouTube, Yahoo and their peers.
Voice search will change how you look at existing SEO tactics and draw some new features into your approach, meaning that your existing text search skills will not be enough on their own.
If you want you site to rank well then you need to listen to what people are saying now because if you turn a deaf ear, then you could find your site pushed into the back of search engine results.