Just to clarify, voice search is when users speak into a device, usually a home assistant or mobile phone, to ask a search engine or digital assistant a question. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies use speech recognition to understand what the user is looking for and then try to provide the best answer found in the online search. A mobile phone will direct the user to a website while a smart speaker will usually read the information out loud. As technologies become more sophisticated, they will better understand the nuances and semantics of voice search resulting in better accuracy in finding what searchers want.
Differences from Traditional Search
QUESTIONS vs STATEMENTS Most people type in short combinations of 3-5 words when performing a text search. Speaking to a digital assistant, people are more inclined to ask a longer, more detailed question in the same manner they would ask the question of another human being.
QUERY LENGTH Voice searches are over 75% longer than text searches. Most of us speak differently than we write. While we may type into a search “large dog harnesses” we may ask, “Which dog harness is best for dogs over 100 pounds?”
CONVERSATIONAL Voice queries are not only longer than those in text, but they also contain words that are more conversational in nature. The technology companies want consumers to engage with the technology as if it is another human being.
STRONGER INTENT To receive voice search results, it is likely someone will have asked a fairly particular question. The content of the site provided as the “best” answer will be considered extremely relevant to the consumer’s needs.
Keyword length will increase because of how we speak. We’re probably not just going to say, “realtor.” It is likely we will say, “who are the best realtors in the Chicagoland area?” This example also makes the point that we’ll see keywords more often expressed as questions instead of statements.
An excellent way to address both of these factors is through the FAQ page on your website. The content of FAQs is invaluable, just remember to craft them in the first person, the way someone might ask the questions. Blogs are another component of your website that can be used to ask and then answer consumers’ questions.
Our natural speech patterns provide more context than the same thought might when thrown into a search box. Searcher intent and the contextual meaning of searches become major factors in the search process. As a result, it becomes increasingly important to understand the impact natural speech patterns have on search results.
The All-Important Answer Box
The featured snippet that appears at the top of a results page is where you want your content to be. Your best chance will come from providing the best answer in content that:
Is optimized for long-tail keywords.
Answers unambiguous questions. Include the question in the subheading and the answer in the content below it.
Includes how to do something.
Is presented in lists and short paragraphs that are easily interpreted by Google.
Voice search is more likely to be used than text search for local purposes. It will also be more location specific making it especially important to optimize your local SEO. While someone may ask Siri, “what is the best steakhouse in Australia,” it is more probable that they will ask, “what is the closest steakhouse near me?” If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing, stop reading, go do it (fully and accurately), then come back. Building your online reviews will also help to optimize for local searches.
A number of studies have shown that slower page loading results in higher bounce rates and pogo sticking. And, it is believed that Google’s voice search algorithm uses load speed as a key ranking factor which means that websites that load quickly will have an edge in search results. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights or another resource to test and collect details on your load speed. A resource like Webpagetest.org will communicate specific elements that are hindering your site speed. Because page speed is a ranking factor for mobile, use the time spent on speed to also ensure that your website is optimized for mobile.
Industry Giants and Their Products
Google: Google Home which has a desktop speaker through which users ask questions and, of course, uses itself as a search engine.
Amazon: Amazon Echo, the home of Alexa who uses Bing as a search engine.
Apple: Homepod, the home of Siri who has left Bing for Google.
Microsoft Windows: the home of Cortana, who uses Bing (also owned by Microsoft) as a search engine.
In a world filled with people who constantly seek convenience and the opportunity to multitask, the popularity of voice search will only continue to grow. Simply striving to make your own content closer to our regular, spoken language is the first step and then you can go from there. Not sure how to proceed or already know you’d like assistance in making sure your website is ready for voice search? Contact the experts at Strategy Driven Marketing today – we’d love to partner with you on this endeavor or help with any of your digital needs!