Voice Search – How Does it Impact SEO?

The Google algorithm goes through constant updates day-in, day-out but only some of these changes have a significant impact on your website. The latest craze in the digital world is voice search and if you don’t optimise your website, then you might just miss out on a major opportunity.

If you’ve ever heard your kids or other young people talking into their smartphone well you more than likely already know what it is. It has many advantages for SEO but it is quite simple to optimise your website for voice search.

So, What is Voice Search?

Why type in what you’re looking for if you can simply tell your smartphone, tablet or voice assistant what you need? This is why digital personal assistants such as Siri and Alexa are so popular.

To put it simply, Google’s voice search feature allows users to use Google Search by speaking into a mobile or other electronic device. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will then be used to scan the websites and produce the most relevant result. The voice search algorithm is slightly different to that of regular search so it’s important that your site is optimised.

How Does Voice Search Impact SEO?

With typed out search becoming less popular, smart digital marketers are trying to develop new ways to tailor SEO strategies to incorporate voice search.

Having said this, here are some ways that voice search is having an impact on SEO:

More Emphasis on Mobile-Friendliness

It’s no surprise that voice search was introduced with more than half of all Google queries coming from mobile devices. The fact that mobile is more popular than desktop nowadays for searching and browsing is old news. With mobile-first indexing having been rolled out recently, websites that are not responsive have long lost rankings in search. However, the emergence of voice search means that mobile is even more important than ever before. In fact, 20% of mobile queries are voice searches. Content on mobile devices must, therefore, be optimised so that your website can appear higher in the rankings for voice search-based queries.

Some tips for optimising your site for mobile include:

    • Ensure resources are crawlable
    • Avoid using Flash as most mobile browsers do not support this
    • Optimise page speed time by compressing images
  • Implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) so that mobile pages load instantly

Because voice search will draw even more people to browse via their smartphones, you must ensure you’ve got this aspect covered.

Your Writing Will Have to Change

Your style of content writing will need to change to accommodate voice search. But how can you do this without ruining your current content quality? It’s simple. Rather than be more formal in your content, it will have to become more conversational instead. You will have to use natural speech patterns as the way people type and the way we speak are very different.

It also means that websites will have to use more long-tail keywords in their content. When we type a search into Google, we usually use short-tail keywords as it may be a lot of hassle to type something out word for word. However, with voice search people are more likely to ask a complete question. For example, when typing we might say ‘weather in Dublin’ but when speaking we would be more inclined to ask ‘What is the weather like in Dublin today?’.

Other tips when writing content for voice search include:

    • Use of short sentences
    • Use simple words
    • Mark up content as a numbered or bulleted list, where applicable
  • Use engaging sub-headings

The terms you use in this writing style must be similar to how people speak so your sentences will contain the terms they use. That’s how you’ll end up on more search lists.

More Prominence on Featured Snippets

A recent study carried out by Moz found that answers via voice search came from featured snippets 87% of the time. You can easily recognise featured snippets in Google search as they are denoted by position zero. Featured snippets appear above the traditional #1 ranking position. They contain a display title, URL and a snippet of text from the webpage. Often, they may contain bullet points or tables.  

How does Voice Search work?

Content should therefore be written so that it ranks for position zero. The types of queries to target with your content include long-tail queries because, after all, voice search is all about using long-tail keywords. You should also aim to answer questions as concise as possible and in one short paragraph. However, this doesn’t mean that your piece needs to be one paragraph, all it means is that the answer to the main query being asked is answered concisely. Organisation is also key when trying to rank for featured snippets. You should use tables and bullet points where appropriate as Google loves structured content.

Optimise Your Google My Business Listing

As many queries related to voice search are based on local queries, such as ‘best restaurant near me’, you will have to ensure that your GMB profile is optimised. This means you need to include photos, positive reviews and owner responses if you are to rank for these types of queries. Ensuring you are placed on review sites such as Yelp and having a consistent NAP (name, address, phone) across directories and citations is also important to help ensure you appear in the top 3 results in the local pack.

Although we are a way off yet for voice search to be the primary way to search, it’s important to start optimising now so you can make the most of it down the line. Following these tips is a great start to get ahead of your competitors and they are quite simple to implement.

Don’t forget: You can’t fight it so try to enjoy it. SEO is constantly changing so prepare yourself for many more SEO changes in future.

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