What Is Voice Search?
Many of us are still getting used to the idea of using voice search.
Have you ever wanted to check a recipe online while in the middle of cooking? How about looking up the directions to that new restaurant while driving in traffic? With your hands busy, using voice search with Siri or Google Assist on your smartphone makes life a whole lot easier.
Voice searching has become more reliable with more people using it everyday. If it weren’t, looking up information in these situations would still be slow and tedious.
You might not even realise how powerful voice search is now, and how much more important it’ll become in the future.
Read on to learn more about voice search and how to optimise your website for it to your advantage.
How To Optimise Your Website For Voice Search?
Voice search is a feature that enables users to issue commands for searching the Internet or apps. This feature is available in modern smartphones and appliances. Collectively, they’re known as smart devices.
Using voice search, you can ask your gadget to make calls, read out messages, check the weather and news, and so much more. It’s a very versatile and reliable feature. It has gained popularity during the last few years because of its hands-free operation.
But how is this important for websites?
It’s very important because the trend with online searches have shifted to voice searching. Now, you might say that your website is optimised for search engines. You have to remember that it’s only optimised for manual searching.
The difference is subtle, but one that needs attention. When you optimised your website for manual search, you used keywords. These are words or short phrases such as “best smartphone”, “smartphones Australia”, and so on. In comparison, voice searching uses questions rather than keywords.
So if someone asks Siri, “what’s the best smartphone to buy in Australia this year?” your website might not be on the first page of the search results.
This is important when you optimise your website for voice search. The solution is to think of possible questions people might ask about your website and provide the answers to these questions. The difference is subtle but it can have a large impact on the number of visitors your business attracts.
Thankfully, you can find lots of tools to help you with voice search optimisation. Google search itself has the feature called “People Also Ask” that can add to your question ideas.
Other helpful tools are:
Answerthepublic.com is extremely effective, you just type in your keyword and it will generate the most commonly asked questions about that.
This is the key in voice search optimization:
- You need to use longer keywords.
They are also known as long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are essential for voice search optimisation.
But do you really need to go through the trouble to optimise your website for voice search?
Voice search is a feature found on newer devices and gadgets, such as smart TVs and speakers. Not every household has smart home assistants, however, the percentage that do is increasing rapidly.
The Increasing Use Of In-home Digital Assistants
Did you know that Australia has surpassed the US in terms of smart speaker use? In January of this year, smart speaker adoption in Australia reached 29%, while the US has 26%.
According to recent research, the use of digital smart speakers or voice assistants will triple by year 2023, amounting to at least 8 billion.
This shouldn’t be surprising, smartphone companies are constantly upgrading their technologies. Among those upgrades has been the increased accuracy of voice assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant. All newer phone models incorporate some form of voice search.
This advancement doesn’t end in smartphones. More home devices are being set up with voice assistance, ranging from smart TVs to smart home humidifiers.
It’s no surprise that some homes are being outfitted with voice assistance. Smart homes, have a range of automation using voice control which can include HVAC, lighting, doors and locks, pet and baby care, air quality, and even cooking.
Smart homes are becoming increasingly common in many first-world countries in America and Asia. In Australia, it’s expected that the number of smart homes will rise to around 1.6 million by year 2021. It’s amazing to think that a fully-voice-automated house will be a reality soon.
Why do you think this trend in voice search technology even started? The answer is quite simple.
The Rising Rate Of Voice Search Use On Smart Devices
In 2011, Google introduced a voice search feature for Google.com on Chrome browsers. At the time, it was more of a novelty than a full-fledged feature.
Now most smartphones and devices have voice search and voice command features. It’s clear that users are actively using these features. Statistics say that 41% of adults and 55% of teens have been using them since 2017. The numbers will continue to rise.
It’s predicted that in 2020 at least half of all Internet searches will be done by voice.
Users have a lot of reasons why they incorporate using voice search in their daily lives.
Why? Using voice search is:
- more convenient, and
- less awkward.
With voice search, you don’t have to use a screen and keyboard to type your query, it is a hands-free operation. Allowing you to use voice search and voice commands while your hands are busy. If you are multitasking, then voice search becomes essential.
Finally, asking questions via voice search feels more natural, because it’s as if you’re talking to a person and not a screen.
But is voice search optimisation even important to your business?
After all, even if you didn’t tweak your optimisation to include voice search questions, your website will still show up on the results page and will still generate traffic. Right?
The Benefits Of Voice Search And The Use Of Long Tail Keywords
People prefer voice searching not only because it’s faster to use – it’s also faster in giving out the answers.
In manual searching, users will have to go through the websites listed in the results list. They’ll need to read the content to find out the answer to their specific question.
While voice searching, however, users typically ask specific questions. Afterwards, the device gives them the specific answer based on the top-ranking website optimised with that question. The result is that users get what they want in seconds rather than minutes.
This is great for your business!
Proper voice search optimisation will greatly increase your traffic. And with increased traffic, you can expect the following subsequent benefits:
- Increased brand visibility and public awareness
- Enhanced customer engagement
- Higher rate of conversion and sales
- Greater impact on a local scale
On the other hand, not optimising your website for voice search could be detrimental. This is simply because Google’s SERP (search engine results pages) is smaller when using voice search.
Try to imagine using an online search tool by typing in words. The results will list down at least 10 websites on the first page alone. It was the goal of pre-voice search SEO to have your website rank as close to the first page as possible. Why? Because most users will only bother to visit websites listed on the first page.
With voice search, users can’t afford to listen to 10 websites’ worth of answers or more. In fact, Google uses only the top 3 results for that particular search query, if it was done via mobile. If the person used a smart speaker to ask the question, Google will only respond with the top rank result.
This only means one thing: getting that top rank in voice search is essential.
To get your website up to that first spot, you’ll need to rework your keywords into long tail keywords.
This is a good thing, because using long tail keywords for your website means the following:
- Fewer competitors –
as your keywords become more specific, you’ll be able to differentiate yourself more from your business competitors.
- More targeted audience –
this is important in sales because you want to attract the people who are most likely to purchase your products and services.
- Higher conversion rate –
people who search for specific questions are those who are further into the process of actually purchasing a product or service.
Now that you know all the benefits of voice search optimisation for your website, are you ready for it?
Keyword Research For Voice Search Optimisation
What’s wonderful about shifting to voice search optimisation is that it’s not that hard to do. You already have the keywords for your website. You just need to rework them a little into long-tailed keywords designed to answer specific search questions.
Several tools were mentioned earlier in this article. Use them to know of the most common questions asked about your keywords.
You can also use the following points when creating your keywords for voice search:
- Awareness –
Example: “What’s the best smart home device in Australia?”
- Evaluation –
Example: “Which is better between Google and Siri?”
- Interest –
Example: “Can you use my home device assistant to call someone in Victoria if you’re in Queensland?”
- Purchase –
Example: “How much is this product in Adelaide?”
- Loyalty –
Example: “What products and appliances work best with my smart device?”
- Customer Support –
Example: “Why can’t this device recognize my accent?”
Another method you can use when creating your long tail keywords is by covering the 3 main types of content most commonly searched via voice. These are:
- Navigational –
Examples: “Which Apple store is the closest to my location?”, “How do I go to this store?”
- Informational –
Examples: “How to connect my smart TV to my Wi-Fi?”, “Which is faster, Alexa or Google Assistant?”
- Transactional –
Examples: “What are the specs of this new smartphone?”, “Can you compare these two tablets?”
Above all else, you must remember that your questions must sound natural. Try reading your most recent emails, texts, and messages. Try to say them aloud, and see if they sound natural.
Most people type and speak differently. This should be reflected in the voice search optimisation of your website. So, rather than using “Can you compare these two tablets?”, it’s more natural to use “What’s better between these two tablets?” because it’s more like normal speech.
Now that you have your long tail keywords checked out, you should revise your site structure and design. Do you know the first thing you need to check?
Site Structure And Content Design For Voice Search
After having great quality content, what’s the next best thing you need for your website? Speed.
Because people who use voice search want fast results, your page must be fast to deliver them. Specifically, it should load within 4.6 seconds or faster to be accessible by voice search.
Google will skip to the next result if your page won’t load fast enough, so make sure your PageSpeed is competitive.
Next, make sure your website is secured using HTTPS. Google prioritises its results for secure web pages by up to 70%.
Because voice search users tend to include their immediate vicinity, you should also make it a point that your business’ address, working hours, and contact information are visible and easily accessible (meaning in plain text, and not embedded in pictures or links).
Now, content-wise, Google voice search seems to prefer longer content, with the average being 2,312 words. Make sure to include longer posts with great content in your blogs.
Short, direct answers for visitors
However, make sure your answers to your long tail keywords are short and direct. Voice search users are after quick and easy answers to their questions. As much as possible, keep your answers within 29 words or fewer.
Still on content, make sure that your posts are still easy to read even though they’re more than 2,000 words long. You can use free online tools such as Hemingway App to check that your content has a readability level of Grade 9 or lower.
You also need your content optimised for local searches. Most voice searches ask for answers applicable to their immediate area.
Context and Expertise
Lastly, your content needs to focus more on context and expertise. This is because Google Hummingbird, Google’s revamped search algorithm, prioritises contextual relevance rather than literal explanation.
To explain this concept simply, try using Google search for the word “news”. Google will most likely give you a list of the most recent news available within your city and country rather than the definition of the word news itself.
Google tries to guess (with surprising accuracy) the user’s intent and gives the most relevant pages. You can also see this at play when you use voice search with sequential or connected questions.
For example, try using voice search to catch up on local news. After giving you the results, try asking a follow-up query such as, “What about California?” Google will most likely give you a brief recap of the most recent news in California. This is pretty impressive, because you didn’t specifically ask for the news for California.
What this only means is that you should focus on answering contextual questions around your keywords and do it with expertise.
These are all important concepts to consider when creating content for your long tail keywords. Are these the only things you’ll need to rework for your website?
Use Of Structured Data
The success of your website’s traffic depends on how Googlebots understand your content. So, you’ll want to help it as much as you can. You can do this by using structured data, or schema markup.
Structured data markup is data embedded in your webpage that contains all the necessary information about it but in the fewest words possible. This data is only visible to search engine bots, and not to users.
Why is this important, you might ask?
Search engines use the information in your structured data markup to put into rich snippets for their search results. And this is important because voice search results slightly favor websites with rich snippets.
But what exactly is a rich snippet?
It’s the extra information you’ll find alongside the search result. For example, if you search for Quay restaurant, you’ll also see their opening and closing hours, menu, prices, and even star ratings.
Rich snippets are important because they give users more information at a glance. They won’t need to browse through the website to get the quick answer they need.
Now, while using structured data won’t boost your SERP ranking, it’ll help increase your click-through rate. So it’s still a good idea to provide one.
You can find many online tools to help you with creating your structured data. Google has one, called the Structure Data Markup Helper.
Just make sure that the information you include in your structured data are all relevant to the nature of your business.
Now you’ve got your long tail keywords, you’ve redesigned your site’s structure and content, and you’ve included a schema markup. The last thing you need to do is to make your website accessible for people on the go.
How Does Mobile Friendliness Affect My Website?
Why do you need to make your website accessible on smartphones? Because voice search is most used on mobile phones. In fact, 57% of voice searches in Australia were done on smartphones in 2018.
The easiest way to make sure your website is mobile-friendly is to use Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool.
You just need to enter your website’s URL and the tool will display any structural errors it might have.
But in a nutshell, you’ll need to design your site around the fact that mobile users will have slower Internet service, a limited energy supply, and slower processing power.
Consider the following key points:
- Use smaller images and videos (without compromising quality).
- Provide the same level of information as your desktop site.
- The text, tables, and other objects should be responsive to accommodate the smartphone’s many and different screen dimensions.
- Scrolling should be vertical.
- Navigational buttons should be big enough for large fingers.
- Minimize forms. If you really need one, make it short and concise.
If you keep these in mind when building or redesigning your mobile site, even Google’s testing tool will find it hard to spot structural errors.