With the advent and popularisation of voice search products such as the Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and of course Apple’s Siri (as well as other mobile assistants), brands are understandably keen to leverage voice search to boost their reach and sales.
Voice search refers to the use of voice commands for searching for web results. This can be as simple as asking Alexa where your nearest Thai restaurant is, or asking Siri what the ‘best shoes in Australia’ are. Voice searches return results quite a bit differently than ordinary text searches through Google (and other search platforms). Voice search tends to return only the highest ranking results, and on top of that – only suggests sites that are mobile optimised.
Something else to consider is how voice search is usually performed in a totally screen-less way. A voice search user may be washing the dishes when they ask their Google Assistant to purchase some new detergent, for example – all without browsing through search results on a desktop computer. This means that voice search usually takes the form of long tail queries rather than key term searches that we might perform whilst typing. As is probably obvious by now, focussing on SEO for ordinary text searches is not quite the same as topping voice search results.
You might be wondering how important voice SEO really is for your business. Here are some compelling stats.
- By 2020 50% of all searches will be performed via voice command
- In the US, 71% of smartphone users aged 18-29, 59% of those aged 30-43, 39% of those aged 44-53, and 38% of people aged 54 and above use mobile personal assistants.
- 19% of people report to using Siri at least once every day
For these reasons and more, it’s important to consider Voice SEO.
How do we optimise our online content for voice search?
Besides from the obvious search engine optimisation, there are some characteristics of voice search that we need to consider when trying to optimise our content to top voice search results:
- Long tail questions
- Use of casual language
- The favouring of Google’s ‘featured snippets’
- Emphasis on informative, high ranking, authoritative content
- Emphasis on ‘near me’ local businesses
As we briefly covered earlier, most voice searches are performed conversationally, and framed as long tailed queries. Whilst you might text search, “best burger Melbourne”, you’re more likely to voice search, “Google, where is the best burger near me?” with the same intention. For this reason, when working on SEO, you should consider the casual, long winded ways in which people may voice search for brands like yours.
In the above example, it’s also clear that voice search is often used to find local results. For this reason it’s important for your business to have a strong Google Maps presence. You can ensure this by filling out your Google My Business profile to completion. Find out more about the service, here.
Because voice search is often performed completely away from the screen, and because of the on-the-go nature of voice search intentions – the top results often get the attention. For example, someone who voice searches for an emergency electrician nearby is far more likely to call the electrician that the Google assistant, Alexa, or Siri mentions first.
Google’s ‘featured snippets’ often occupy the top ranking position of voice search results. This is because featured snippets are meant to answer questions, or give the wanted results, straight away without any further scrolling or click throughs. Because of this, having your site platformed by a featured snippet can help you capitalise on voice search at a whole new level. We cover what featured snippets are, and how you can get your content featured, below.
What are featured snippets?
Have you ever Google’d something only to see your question answered up top, in a convenient little box?
That’s a featured snippet. Featured snippets are designed to answer searches and questions immediately, without prompting the searcher to have to scroll through links.
Featured snippets feature selected search results that Google displays below ads, and above organic results. They feature web results with high quality content, and usually sourced from an authoritative (high ranking, highly visited) site or web page.
These featured snippets, because of how they readily answer searched questions, are often the first result returned by a voice search assistant. If you’ve ever asked Siri or Alexa a question such as “what’s in a carrot cake?” and your assistant answers with a full list of ingredients straight off the bat; the assistant was most likely reading out a featured snippet on Google.
Lastly, featured snippets are far more likely to turn up in search results when long tail keywords are used. Which means that the more words used in a search, the more likely the results will return a featured snippe