What Does the Surge of Voice Search Mean for Your Business?
By Joe Bachir
People are searching differently.
How often do you hear that?
It seems like every few months, we’re rethinking how we create and serve content based on user behavior - and we are.
A lot of this is dictated by what is new in the world of technology. This time around, the focus is shifting more towards voice search and how people are using voice search to find information, quickly.
Here’s the thing, though, voice search isn’t just a fad.
With Siri, Alexa, and Google Home, the adoption rate has been crazy and by 2020, 50% of all searches will likely be carried out via voice.
This means it’s vital that we understand all the hoopla around it, and how we can start optimizing our content so it is actually being seen --or better, heard when people are searching using their voice.
The Rise of Voice Search
First, we have to understand how popular voice search is actually becoming.
As stated above, voice search is projected to be 50% of all searches by 2020, but what’s more jaw-dropping is that 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen in 2020.
This means not only do we have to show up when people are using voice search, but our content has to be consumable without a screen.
But You don’t have to wait until 2020 to see how popular voice search is.
In 2016, Google announced that 20% of mobile queries were by voice. Since then, we have seen that number increase, as in January 2018, there are an estimated 0ne billion voice searches per month.
It is safe to say that “voice search is coming” has quickly become outdated.
Voice Search is Everywhere
We are living in a world where we are completely surrounded by devices that support voice assistants and always-on microphones that are just waiting for their trigger word to answer our most burning questions.
The most common way we are interacting with those assistants is searching on our phones, but, companies are trying their hardest to make sure we have access to them anywhere we are.
With that in mind, we are seeing smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s Homepod, just to name the popular options.
Those same assistants are also now on your wrist with your smartwatch, and in your car with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Amazon just last week announced a ton of new products that support their assistant, Alexa, including a microwave...yes, a microwave.
I could go on, and on about this but it is important to keep in mind what all this means.
Voice assistants are everywhere which means voice search is everywhere.
Because of this, we are seeing users search using different queries, and asking questions in different ways.
Searches are becoming more human and queries are longer, with more conversational words.
What Consumers are Searching for with Voice Assistants?
It’s important to note that voice search is not simply an alternative to traditional desktop or mobile searching through type. It’s a beast all it’s own.
Right now, people aren’t searching for the same things via voice as they would via text.
What are they searching?
Local content is a popular one.
In fact, Internet Trends Report found that 22% of people use voice to search for finding local information like business hours, restaurants in the area, or even just “things to do near me.”
Google even disclosed that “near me” searches have grown more than 146% year over year.
Because of this, it is crucial that if you have a local business that relies on foot traffic or is frequently visited, your listing is up to date with accurate information to better its chances of being delivered effectively via voice.
Consumers are also searching for quick answers to simple questions.
These questions are usually fact-based that don’t necessarily warrant a deep dive or explanation in order to get an answer.
For example, “How tall is Michael Jordan,” “What’s the temperature outside?” or “How old is Barack Obama?”
How to Optimize for Voice Search
It is quite obvious that voice search has already found a place in our everyday lives.
What is important for us to remember, however, is since voice behavior is different from traditional browser search behavior Google ranks for it differently.
Because of this, it is crucial that we are not neglecting voice search when creating and optimizing relevant content.
Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Keep it Human: When it comes to optimizing your content for voice search, the most important thing is to understand how humans actually speak, and how they search using their voice.
Voice assistants are designed to be spoken to like a friend or another person in the room so conversations or questions to them are more natural, and more focused around long-tail keywords.
Think about how you and your audience actually speak about your business and to each other, and not how they search the web for information on your business.
Optimize Your Pages with Featured Snippets: When a question is asked via voice search, Google will likely pull the featured snippets and read it out loud to the user and cite the site as the source of that information.
Optimizing to appear here is a great way to help your content get found when someone asks a question vocally.
If Google can’t find a featured snippet or the only snippets available are considered bad, Google will not provide any answers.
What featured snippets should you aim for? Again, consider the questions someone in your audience may be wondering or asking on the go and make sure you have crawlable pages that answer those.
Learn more about optimizing for featured snippets here.
Be as Mobile-Friendly as Possible: This is just a good rule-of-thumb to live by when creating anything online.
As many voice searches are happening through mobile devices, you want to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly, meaning the page is fast and easily digestible on every device and browser.
As stated above, “near me” searches are very popular and 88% of all “near me” searches are happening on a mobile device.
Make Sure Your Page is Fast!: Page speed plays a huge role in voice search SEO.
The average voice search results page loads in 4.6 seconds. That is 52% faster than your average page.
Fast-loading websites appear to have an edge in Google voice search results as consumers are looking to quickly get answers.
Make Your Voice Heard
Voice search is getting more and more accessible, every day. .
As more consumers start adapting the behavior and searching with their voice, your brand’s website and content need to be ready and equipped to be found through it.
So, start the work today! Understand what devices your consumers are using when voice searching and information they’re looking for. Continue to answer their questions, and make it more human than ever before!
Wondering where to begin?