Although Google voice search has been around for over seven years, it’s only very recently that users have really embraced it. Voice assistants have a lot to do with this development, as technology including Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa have quickly solidified their place in the home and office.
The increased popularity of voice search has further pushed the capabilities of optimising your site for SEO, with users searching in a new, non-traditional different way, there are now more opportunities for brands to be found. Keywords are longer, less branded, more focussed and highlight a clear intent.
The voice search demographic
Early adopters of voice search are primarily millennials, with adults aged 45-55 also utilising this technology to find information, research and make purchases. Over 39% of millennials use voice assistants, at least once a month, representing the highest percentage of smart home device owners and almost quadruple that of the usage by baby-boomers, at only 10.1%.
It was found that 22% of voice searches are undertaken with the intent of finding ‘local’ or ‘near me’ businesses, which opens up further opportunities for small businesses, who are typically buried in the SERP’s.
How to optimise for voice search
Around 72% of people, who own a voice-activated speaker, use it as part of their daily routines, so a failure to optimise your site to accommodate this and reap the rewards would be a wasted opportunity.
94% of the smart speakers in use are produced by Google and Amazon, therefore, ensuring you’ve optimised your site or online store to suit the algorithms used by these two tech giants is critical to obtaining preference in a user search.
The likelihood of your site returning a query as Google’s ‘answer box’ – or featured snippet – relies on your capability to appear on the first page of the SERP’s at position zero. Although for generic or highly competitive terms, this is very difficult to do, when it comes to longer enquiries, there’s much more scope to achieve this coveted spot.
Unfortunately, you can only opt-out, not opt-in, to be a featured snippet. The position is programmatically determined by Google which determines if a page is likely to answer the search query.
Over 20% of voice search queries are users seeking information on local businesses. For this reason, brands who have a ‘local’ capability, such as a restaurant, store or service, should ensure that their site and wider online presence such as social media pages are up to date with their contact details.
Utilising opportunities such as Google My Business, a free service allowing you to add your business listing to appear in the SERP’s during a relevant search can greatly enhance your capability for users to find you through a voice-based location search.
Other elements such as updated contact information, location orientated information and a current address on your website will all contribute to your capability to rank locally for your desired search terms.
Queries submitted through voice search typically are longer and more complex, due to the ease of use compared to typing out a search. With 72% of those who own a speaker using voice search as part of their daily routine, brands can capitalise on answering their longer-tail queries.
The way in which users are using voice search is more conversational and offers much more insight into their intent compared to short two to three-word searches. We speak to voice assistants in almost the exact way we would speak to a real person, so websites need to embrace more natural and conversational language, in order to be in for a fighting chance of reaching position zero.
Not only this, the ability to garner a much clearer intent in terms of position in the buying cycle, for example, should drive you to want to create much more focussed content that aims to meet the query head-on with no fluff, jargon or road-blockers.
If your site isn’t already equipped with a comprehensive FAQ, you could be missing out valuable snippet positions. Ultimately this portion of your website is designed the answer questions. It should naturally align with the demands of a virtual assistant by using natural language and a simplified approach to answering questions. Direct and specific copy, but still enough information to answer the query, is the key objective when developing your FAQ section.
Getting started with voice search
It’s important to remember these key takeaways when optimising your website for voice search:
- Make your content great again! Sorry to use this paraphrase, but here it really counts to ensure your content is unique and meaningful.
- Write for real people. Although we’re always trying to appease the ‘Google powers that be’, writing for humans is the best approach to achieving optimal search capability.
- Think local. If you offer a service which has a local element to it, ensure your site is optimised effectively to allow people nearby to easily find you.
- Consider conversational queries. We speak to our voice assistants more like people than we do when typing into a search engine, so make sure that your site does the same featuring answers to long-tail queries.
- Consider the wider site. Make sure that your site is quick, user-friendly and has a simplified user journey allowing information to be crawled and accessed easily.