Voice search is an important aspect and an actively developing function on large global platforms and sites with worldwide recognition. The modern generation is increasingly using voice commands, especially coupled with the increased use of mobile devices. Huge companies even create their own special voice assistants that make life easier and deliver with their skills and abilities to recognize the needs and requests of users.
Voice search allows you to find information on the Internet without using a keyboard. According to GlobalWebIndex, the use of voice interfaces in the world in 2019 grew by more than 9%. The share of users aged 16 to 64 who use voice commands is also growing. That is, if you want to stay on the top, you need to adapt your website to the peculiarities of voice search. In this SEO guide, we will talk about existing voice assistants, programs, and gadgets that support voice search, and how to tune your SEO strategy to the innovations.
People are less and less fond of typing, many prefer short audio messages. This trend has moved from interpersonal communication to everyday life. Using our voice, we control home appliances, issue tasks to our phones or laptops, and so on. It's no surprise that more and more people are starting to use voice search.
There are several objective reasons why people switch to voice commands. First, it is faster and more convenient than typing on the keyboard. Second, with voice search, one can formulate a more precise and detailed request. It also saves time and effort and is much more convenient on-the-go.
Sure, the increasing popularity of voice search in different countries impacts SEO. Any business that wants to get more traffic, needs to start working on the quality of voice search results right now, not waiting for the full adoption of this technology.
First, you need to understand the features of smart gadgets, voice assistants, and how people actually use them.
These are artificial intelligence-based programs that perform certain actions in response to the user's verbal command. The number of languages understood and functionality differs depending on the manufacturer. The most advanced assistants are able not only to execute commands but also to conduct a dialogue (the first such device was Apple's Siri in 2011).
Machine learning technologies help voice assistants recognize the language and context of a request and find a relevant answer. An automatic speech recognition system (ASR) converts the voice request into text through several stages:
The voice assistant understands commands in natural language (that is, formulated in a conversational style) and takes into account the context in order to better understand the user – accesses history of previous requests and/or location.
If the program does not recognize the meaning of the request, the assistant will ask the user to rephrase it or clarify details. The recognition accuracy of the main players in the voice assistant market (Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft) is close to 100%.
The most popular voice assistants right now are:
On the graph, you can see how the global voice assistant market is divided by popularity and number of users.
To find information on the Internet, voice assistants use data from search engines. With Google Assistant, the choice of the search engine is obvious. Siri also uses Google search, Alexa and Cortana use Bing, and Bixby uses Samsung's own Kngine search engine. AliGenie can’t yet look for information on the Internet, its functionality is limited to managing smart home systems, media, and ordering products from the T-mall online store.
These are multifunctional devices that perform various voice commands of their owners, including searching for something on the Internet. The world's first smart speaker, Echo, with voice assistant Alexa was introduced by Amazon in 2015.
Popular smart speakers are as follows:
Note that the very concept of search results is absent for smart speakers since they just read out the most relevant answer to the user’s query.
Voice input can be activated by a special function in the search bar. This is what it looks like on Google:
Voice search forces search engines to recognize the meaning and intent of a query, not just the meaning of particular words and phrases. The semantic search in Google is managed by the Hummingbird algorithm and the artificial intelligence system RankBrain.
In the real world, it looks like this. Receiving a query "where to buy an iPhone near me", the search engine algorithm focuses on the phrase "near me" and gives relevant results, taking into account the user's geolocation (if it is active and configured correctly).
Note that the search results for the same request using voice input on the desktop and on a mobile device may differ.
Whether you recognize yourself in the list above or not, you may think about optimizing your website for voice search. In this case, our detailed guide below will be very useful to you.
The central point for adapting your site for voice search is in the findings of Brian Dean from Backlinko, who analyzed the results of using 10,000 Google Home smart speakers. According to him, Google search results for voice queries have the following characteristics:
However, the factors below do not have or have a small effect on getting into the results of voice search:
In order to achieve all of the above criteria, it is worth adhering to certain steps, and you will definitely succeed. Consider a phased SEO strategy for adapting to voice search.
Google has announced that it will consider page experience signals starting May 2021. This new algorithm will evaluate whether users are satisfied with the site's performance. So, here’s what you should do to follow the new algorithm:
Using keywords has become even more important – and long-tail queries just got longer. Answers to voice queries are literally spoken out loud as people actually speak, so identify 5-7 words around which to start optimizing your site for voice search.
SeoClarity has done the research and created a list of voice search trigger words that people use. When creating content for your site, be sure to use these trigger words. To maximize your SEO goals, it is best to add them to the title, meta description, headings, paragraphs, and words in bold.
So, here's a list of SEO keyword guidelines for voice search:
Add a section with frequently asked questions and answers. This format is ideal for voice searches because the page contains conversational questions and short, comprehensive answers that the device will display or readout. Try to collect more questions, use information from the sales department, call center, from managers, messages in chats, and emails. This will allow the page to meet the completeness criterion.
Structure your content: use subheadings, bulleted and numbered lists, and highlighted paragraphs with important thoughts. Such content is more often included in featured snippets above the search results.
In the previous step, we mentioned collecting semantics with question words. Distribute such requests among landing pages, use the most frequent ones in subheadings, and scatter the rest throughout the text.
Create voluminous, detailed content that answers several related questions at once. Writing a separate article for each key phrase is a bad idea.
Write in simple language, don't use complex syntax. Try to be short and clear. Your task is to convey information in a form accessible to a wide range of users.
Pay attention to the request intent, try to solve the user's problem on the page, and not hide the product advertisement in an informational article.
Local SEO work also matters for voice search. Nearly half of voice search queries have strong local intent. "Google, what restaurants near me are open right now?" – here is a classic voice query with local intent. This means that voice search is suitable for promoting local small businesses.
Optimize the dashboard of your company by filling in all the proposed fields. It is the amount of information in your Google My Business card that determines whether Google chooses it as a search result.
Don’t ignore the "Questions and Answers" tab in Google My Business. This section is often left blank by entrepreneurs, but it can have an impact on voice searches as it creates a great user experience. Here the user will find the answer and learn all they need about the business and services directly from the search results.
Also, write local content that will answer the questions of your potential customers. For example:
Find out what your users are really asking and answer their questions in an article format.
Although the share of voice search users is still not very significant, this is a trend for the near future. More and more people use voice search in their smartphones and smart speakers. Therefore, if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you should consider optimizing your SEO strategy now.
Aside from the technical advice we've provided in this article, the main idea you should do is put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Content in the era of voice search, is content that provides the most precise and helpful answers to various questions that users have. To satisfy these requests, you need to think like your user, use the language your customers speak, and present the information in a way they can understand.
Rukham is the Content Lead at Mailmunch. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications.