Voice search is more popular than ever. As digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home appear in houses all around the world, consumers are increasingly using these tools to search the web. Don’t just take our word for it – we’ve come armed with statistics.
- Marketing analytics firm ComScore has predicted that by 2020, 50 percent of all online searches will be performed with voice search.
- In a 2018 study, local marketing agency BrightLocal found that approximately 58 percent of consumers used voice search to find a local business in 2017.
- Market research agency eMarketer predicts that by the end of this year, over a third of the U.S. population will use a voice assistant at least monthly.
In short, voice search isn’t going away anytime soo. If anything, it’s only going to grow more prevalent. As such, it’s very much in your best interest to start looking into how you can optimize your own website for voice.
Here are a few things to consider as you get started.
Conversational Queries will be the Norm
Perhaps the most fundamental way voice search differs from text search lies in how queries are structured. When typing a query into a search engine, there’s a tendency to focus more on keywords or key-phrases. With digital assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, however, queries tend to be far more conversational in nature.
For example, let’s say someone’s looking for a good sushi restaurant near College Park.
- If they’re typing their search into Google, it’ll probably be something along the lines of “Sushi restaurant College Park Orlando” or “Sushi Restaurant near College Park.”
- If they’re performing a voice search, the query will be more to the effect of “Hey Google, show me a good sushi restaurant near College Park.”
So what does this mean from an SEO perspective?
First, keep your vocabulary relatively simple and your sentences short and uncomplicated. Voice search optimized content should be structured as though it’s part of a conversation, and written so it reads as one would speak. A study carried out by SEO firm Backlinko found that the average voice search result is written at a ninth-grade level, so keep that in mind.
Second, you’ll want to target long-form, conversational keywords over individual keywords. Work the phrases you’re trying to target naturally into the copy of your page. Don’t bother creating individual pages for each query, or including the exact query in your title tag – the study we cited above found that this doesn’t appear to be an effective strategy.
Finally, long-form content still tends to rank well where voice search is concerned, and quality is just as important as it always was.
Website Speed is More Important Than Ever
Faster is better. That’s always been a rule of SEO. Google even considers page speed to be a ranking factor, particularly where mobile search results are concerned – it has made no secret of this.
Voice search takes that up to 11. In the Backlinko study we cited above, the firm found that voice search appears to noticeably prioritize fast websites. The average load speed for a web page clocks in at around 2.1 seconds, according to site speed monitoring organization Machmetrics.
The average voice search result has a speed of 0.54 seconds. Basically, this means you’ll need to take every single step to optimize your site that you possibly can. This includes…
- Ensuring your site loads quickly on mobile devices.
- Compressing all images, and reducing their size and quality to manageable levels.
- Cache your pages to improve load speed.
- Work with your host to optimize your site’s load times through a CDN or other means.
Featured Snippets and Local SEO are Critical
The average voice search result, according to Backlinko, is about 29 words long. It’s taken directly from the page that comes in at the top of the SERP. This segment of text is known as a featured snippet – and people aren’t 100 percent certain how they work at the moment.
What we do know is that the best way to rank in voice search and get part of your site copy pulled for a featured snippet is to write content that answers specific questions in as concise a manner as possible. Engaging content is a must as well, obviously – but that’s not especially unique to voice search.
Additionally, given that a large percentage of voice searches have local intent – they’re similar to mobile searches in that regard – you’ll want to optimize for local search, as well. Include your NAP information on every page of your site, and ensure you have a Google My Business Page.
Voice Search is the Future
As digital assistants and smart homes become ever more prevalent, voice search will continue to gain ground. It’s important that you start working to understand how it functions now. Because you don’t want to be playing catch-up once it’s really taken off.