If you are a regular reader of my articles you’ll be aware that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is never finished. In addition to continually analysing your content’s performance you also need to look out for new strategies. One of these new developments is voice search and in this article, I’m going to have a quick look at what it is and how we can incorporate it into your current SEO strategies.
Voice search isn’t new; it’s been a key feature of many platforms for a while now (iPhone’s Siri, Android’s voice search, Microsoft’s Cortana, and so on). What’s changed is that advances in Natural Language Processing have made it extremely accurate. Couple that with the huge rise in the use of mobile devices and it is no surprise that it has begun to take off. Voice search could very well become the dominant form of search in coming years.
How does it differ from regular search?
Voice search differs from regular text search in several important ways:
It’s easier and faster
There’s no doubt that touch keyboards are clumsy and awkward for many people; the smaller the screen size, the more cumbersome the experience is. Talking to your device is not only easier, it’s also much faster and more natural.
It’s focused on questions and answers
Most search originates from mobile devices but voice search makes our devices even more useful. It enables us to get immediate answers to direct questions.
It’s more likely to be concerned with the present time and location
Because devices like mobile phones are with us all the time, voice search allows us to use them in a more personal way. We’re more likely to use them to seek information related to our current geographic location and in the present time, e.g. looking for a nearby café.
So how do we incorporate voice search into our current SEO strategies?
If you have followed our suggestions from previous articles you’ll find that preparing for voice search only requires minor changes to what you are already doing.
1. Adopt a mobile-first strategy
The majority of search comes from mobile devices and Google ranks mobile-friendly websites higher in search results. That means if you haven’t done so already you need to make sure you offer content that is responsive to screen size and easy to read and navigate, even on the smallest devices. Check out bootstrap for more information.
2. Develop your online presence
Because voice search is often focused on questions related to the present time and your current location you need to have a presence in online directories. You should be targeting all the ones local to where you are as well as other popular online services like Yelp, Quora, Tripadvisor. Consider anywhere people ask questions or look for reviews of products and services related to your industry.
Don’t forget to target relevant social networks as well. Most businesses use a Facebook Page to good effect. Also consider registering with Google My Business because in one move this will link your business with both Google Search and Google Maps.
3. Pay particular attention to your long tail keywords.
Voice search tends to use natural speech so queries are more like real questions; they are longer and include “question” words like who, where, why, what, and how. Short tail keywords are often dominated by well-established competitors so focusing on long tail keywords could give you a significant boost in search results. For example, consider text very similar to the questions people would ask with voice: “closest café near city centre”.
For this reason, it is often a good idea to add a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section to your website. By providing questions and answers together you are much more likely to be relevant in search results because you are directly answering questions as the queries are worded. If it is appropriate you can also include a How To section.
4. Target “rich snippets” in search results.
Snippets are the “introductory” text paragraphs that appear below the URL in search results. Many voice services can even read these back to you so it makes sense to develop your web content so it’s friendlier for indexing. This is a bit more advanced because it introduces the concept of structured data—that is presenting your content in a way that is easier for search bots to understand and index when they crawl through your content. You can learn more by reading about it at Google Developer.
Has your business already started experimenting with voice search? Drop me an email and tell me about how that’s working for you. I love hearing from my readers.