The time has arrived when every marketer, every business owner should buckle up themselves to face the shift from Text Based Search to Voice Search in the digital world.
A study by none other than Google themselves showed that both teens and adults are using voice search more than once a day on their smartphones. And this was two years back!
So how can you leverage this tremendous and irreversible shift in search behavior? For marketers, searchers are your customers, and your customers’ behavior is changing. For business owners, you need to adapt to these changing habits of your audience. So, here are a few steps to make sure you don’t get stranded in the land that time forgot…
Know More about Voice Search
Voice Search is a mixture of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Text-to-Speech (TTS). Simply put, it is used to recognize and process a user’s voice search request. After a user’s voice is recognized and parsed, the actual search query is entered into a huge database which intends to meet the query with the most relevant answer, which is then reverted to the user’s device. Finally, the device converts the answer back into voice and delivers it to the user.
Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and now Google’s Echo have already reached the zenith of voice search technology. They can speak out the best answer directly to you instead of displaying a list of search results like what you see on Google, Bing or other search engines.
Typed Search Queries Vs. Voice Search
Optimizing a website for voice search and traditional search queries require different strategies. Google’s past algorithms have influenced the searchers to type concise queries on search engines which contain just the relevant keywords on SERPs. This has steered website owners to stuff unusual phrases in their website content to try to reach people when they search for those key phrases.
Voice search doesn’t work with that strategy. It is much more conversational as it allows users to speak instead of type queries in search engines. The Hummingbird update announced by Google in 2013 was a major change in its algorithm that moved the needle towards conversational search. Searchers could now type in naturally phrased search queries like “restaurants my friends recommend in Phoenix” and delivers the relevant results, without making the user move back into difficult keyword-based phrasing like “restaurants Phoenix AZ”.
Understand the Future of Voice Search
“The future is voice-activated search driven by artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning” – declared Chris Marentis in his recent post over at Search Engine Land. We can expect an exponential growth in the applications developed especially for voice search and other progress in voice technology.
Voice search is the key model of hi-tech AI-influenced trends in the digital market. As we have seen increasing use of the Internet via mobile devices, voice search, which is already at 20 percent or one-fifth of all mobile searches (which in turn are more than desktop searches) will keep growing. Constructive voice recognition technological advancements are expected as much in all mobile apps and digital properties, whether you consume your device to surf the Internet or not.
Improve Content for a Voice-Driven Era
Certainly, keep planting keywords into website content, but then remember the words themselves are no longer sufficient. Ask yourself below questions when you optimize your pages:
- What message should this page convey to the visitors? Is it satisfying the visitor’s query as well as intent?
- Does it serve comprehensive information? Would someone slip back to the search results after landing on this page or stay on read more?
- In what circumstances does a visitor look for a page like this?
- Is this page easily viewable, accessible and optimized for mobile devices?
- Is the content helpful and easy to read? Can a user instantly understand what the web page is about?
The good thing is, Google may bring voice query reporting to the Google Search Console’s Search Analytics report; although it is unclear exactly when. But there is still a hope and there are some actionable SEO strategies that you can focus on right now to develop website voice search ready. These includes:
- Long-Tail keywords:
As longer queries are emerging from voice searchers, it is good practice to start aiming for long-tail keywords on your website as well. Make sure your content comprehensively addresses the user intent and go for in-depth pieces and long form content. Here are 6 awesome tools to find long tail keywords.
- FAQ strategy / Humanize content:
Your customers are asking questions using “who, what, where, why and how”. Make an effective content marketing strategy and cover those answers in your web pages, blogs, and social media posts. Read this guide on humanizing your content.
- Schema markup:
By implementing Schema at every possible opportunity (to describe all the ‘entities’ in your website) you can enhance your website’s HTML coding structure to provide thorough information to the search engines about what exactly your pages are talking about.
Build your own community or online forum, HubSpot and Moz have done with inbound.org. This will encourage natural conversations among your audience. It will improve your brand awareness and site authority, as well as give you more visibility across semantically worded searches due to a large amount of user generated content.
Over to You
Keyword targeting and inbound links used to be a strong technique for SEOs to manipulate along with other factors. But now, across the world, users are increasingly accessing the internet through voice search. Therefore, businesses must now change their websites to cater to not only search engines but also their impatient users.
We can confidently say that today, “Audience – not content – is king.”
How are you preparing for this inevitable shift towards voice search? Let us know in the comments below.
This post is contributed by Ravi. Want to contribute something useful? Read our submission guidelines.