The average person types 40 words per minute but can speak 150 words per minute. So it should come as no surprise that Voice Search has become widely popular. The results are instant, and people are finding it convenient to simply speak to their device. “Hey Google,” “Hey Siri,” and “Hey Alexa” are becoming household phrases that are changing the game for marketers. Our team at Fidelitas Development has comprised a guide to Voice Search Optimization for a better marketing strategy for you and your company.
What is Voice Search?
So what exactly are we talking about with ‘Voice Search’? And why has Voice Search become such a hot commodity?
Apple sparked this trend with the introduction of Siri, a personal voice assistant available in most current Apple products. Other industry players soon caught on and followed with Cortana (Microsoft), Google Assistant (Google), and Alexa (Amazon). Amazon saw a 500% application growth after the introduction of Alexa in 2014.
Voice command devices are convenient and provide a quick response. In this technology driven age, users are drawn to faster results and higher accuracy. Voice technology is perceived to be more accurate than a traditional search, according to 28% of users.
The most common uses for this type of technology include setting reminders, locating a smartphone, placing a coffee order, and checking a bank account. Amazon’s Alexa is essentially a personal assistant; users can ask questions, play trivia, or order directly from Amazon.
How Many People Use Voice Search?
A reported 40% of adults use Voice Search at least once a day. This number rises constantly as the big players release new devices geared towards those who prefer speech recognition technology. Voice Search matters for small businesses, too: around 50% of users search for a local business every day.
The industry itself is rapidly advancing. Google’s voice recognition accuracy has jumped 20% since 2013. China is leading the way with 64% of the population using voice command. In 2013, China reached 93% word accuracy. This was the same time Apple’s Siri was just being introduced.
It’s hard to ignore the data on voice command devices. In 2016, 6.5 million voice-first devices shipped around the world. That number rose to 24.5 million devices in 2017. That’s over a 300% jump in just one year!
Needless to say, it would be unwise to ignore this relevant, new technology when developing a marketing strategy for 2018.
Utilizing Voice Search for Your Website
The numbers themselves make a pretty compelling argument why Voice Search should not be ignored, but there are many reasons to utilize Voice Search, especially when it comes to your website.
Embracing Voice Search is a great opportunity to get ahead of the competition. SEO techniques focused on people-based marketing, featured snippets, semantics, and optimizing content can generate significant increases in web traffic. When Google Home provides an answer to a query, it cites the website the answer was pulled from. When Google reads a company’s website as the source of an answer, that brand gains immediate credibility.
There has been a rise is personal based web searches over the past few years. This has only exponentially increased with the introduction of voice command.
People-based marketing creates a marketing strategy around a profile of its users. Advertisers can target consumers based on the individual, rather than isolated behaviors. The industry is seeing a shift towards this strategy as voice command devices continue to build profiles with every search.
One of the best Voice Search Optimization strategies for gaining visibility is utilizing featured snippets, the top answer read aloud in a voice-commanded web search. Voice Search results don’t provide options for answers to a query, like a traditional search would. These types of searches only read snippets from the coveted position zero, making it important to leverage featured snippets that provide a simple, specific answer optimize to the user’s query.
Not everyone uses the same term for the same search. One users might say “pizza restaurant” when another says “pizzeria.” “Near me” searches, where users ask their device to “find food near me” or “find auto repair near me,” are some of the most popular applications of voice technology. Even so, many other variations of the phrase are used and must be accounted for by marketing leaders. “Close by,” “around here,” and “by me” are all valid options that can be substitutes for a “near me” search.
For these reasons, it’s not prudent to target short keywords. Instead, use long-tail phrases and related words that are specific to your target segment to gain an advantage with Voice Search. People tend to speak much differently than they type, so you cannot target both searches the same way. Long-tail words most closely resemble every day speech.
The most popular queries start with who, what, when, where, and why. The Voice Search landscape sees a 60% growth increase in these question phrases year to year. These are key factors to keep in mind when gearing your website towards voice command technology.
The next step is crafting a response to these sought after questions. Most likely, these answers will be embedded in a blog article from your website. Google may only show a snippet, but that doesn’t mean you should only provide a shortened answer to the questions in your article.
Marketing Leaders are best served to give a straightforward response, followed by a more in-depth explanation. If a Voice Search user is directed to your site, they will be looking for more information than just the featured snippet found in the original search result. If all your website provides is a condensed answer, users will click the dreaded back button to find more detail from another site, crushing your site’s bounce rate and hopes of maintaining position zero.
Begin with a heading that is typically the most common question you are going to answer. Immediately after, in the body text below the heading, provide a paragraph tag with a quick definition or answer to the question. Research has shown that 40 to 50 words is the ideal count for this snippet. There are many different formats this can take: a traditional paragraph, numbered answer, bullet points, and even charts or graphs.
If you aren’t seeing the fruits of your optimization labor in the Voice Search results, it’s worth incorporating a Q&A style format into your site. This could mean adding a traditional FAQ page and focusing on directly answering the questions that searchers are looking for.
Website Features That Utilize Voice Search
There are a few other key features worth mentioning that can boost your website to an ideal search spot. Keep these and the previously mentioned tips in mind to optimize your site.
Studies have shown fast-loading websites rank significantly higher in Voice Searches, which already load faster than a traditional search page. Voice Search result web pages are fully loaded in 4.6 seconds. Compare this figure to the average website’s 8.8 second load time, and it’s clear that a fast website is more appealing to the Voice Search user- and the ranking algorithms.
Google is now considering page speed in ranking results for mobile searches (many of which are Voice Searches). Google wants to give their users the fastest results possible, so make sure your website is competitive in this feature by compressing code and images while ensuring that your site’s hosting is optimal for your site’s load time.
Google has said that HTTPS could give a small boost to website search rankings. More than 70% of Voice Search result URLs use HTTPS, compared to desktop’s 50% use. The results showing up on the first page are primarily using HTTPS, and the percentages are only going to grow in favor of sites with an SSL certificate. Installing an SSL certificate is one of the cheapest and easiest search optimization tactics to execute.
Strong Domain Authority
Backlinks are the foundation of Google’s algorithm. The average domain authority rating (a metric used to determine a site’s link authority) for a Voice Search result is a lofty 76.8 out of 100.
Domain Authority is based on 40 different factors, including the age of the website, the site’s trust score, spam rating, and web traffic. You can check your domain authority for free using tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer.
Highly Shared Content
If you’re simply posting your content to your site without promoting it on social media, you’re missing out! The most prominent Voice Search results tend to have more social media shares. Voice Searches average 1,199 shares on Facebook and 44 retweets on Twitter. Valuable, shareable content performs well in any setting and users take notice, including Google.
Easy to Read
Google’s algorithm puts an emphasis on elocution, clear and expressive speech. Since a Voice Search responds with a voice answer (Alexa, Siris, etc), it’s crucial for your site’s wording and phrases to be read aloud easily. Users should be able to understand the provided answer and not go clicking away to find another page that makes more sense to them.
To fulfill Google’s elocution factor, simpler language is always best. A 9th grade reading level is typical for Voice Search results but lower levels are acceptable as well. When considering wording, use words that are easy for Voice Search tools to pronounce, that consolidate the information without visuals, and that don’t require users to look up complex, unfamiliar words.
Voice Search results primarily come from content sources with a higher word count (2,000 words or more). While the actual results are typically 30 words or less, the overall depth and detail of the content is an important factor. A higher word count and comprehensive content leads to more opportunities to nail keywords and land Voice Search results placements.
SEO Best Practices
As mentioned above, your site’s rankings for search terms, especially via mobile devices, are vital to Voice Search Optimization. If your site’s content isn’t ranking well on traditional search pages, you’re likely going to struggle to gain traction in the Voice Search Results. Focus on overall best practices for SEO on your website to help improve your rankings – and traffic- across the board.
It’s critical to create content that is compelling and that users find value in. Sites that make a genuine effort to answer voice search queries with quality content are rewarded by Google in the search rankings. Don’t forget to use schema markup to tell search engines about the site. Remember to optimize for mobile. Most Voice Searches (and the majority of all searches, for that matter) are done through a mobile device, so keep this in mind when crafting your strategy.
Take advantage of this guide to Voice Search Optimization, even if it means significant changes to your content strategy. Most businesses haven’t taken advantage of the Voice Search opportunities yet, making now the best time to optimize for Voice Search and get ahead of your competition. Embracing Voice Search now will only improve your performance in the future.