It’s crazy to think how far the internet has come in the last 20 years or so. From the tedious scouring of newsgroups for information to the simplicity of voice search serving you information near instantaneously.
20 years ago, the odds were pretty good that if you wanted to find something on the internet you used half a dozen different search engines. Yahoo, AskJeeves, AOL, and a tiny little startup known as Google were common go to choices when you needed to find information or answers. Often you had to be very specific about what you were after and had to sift through the results to find something relevant.
Today, a four-year-old can pick up their parents smart phone, unlock it with their retina, tap a little microphone button and say “scooby doo video”. With the miracle of modern technology a Scooby Doo video will serve up faster than you can blink.
Voice search is an amazing part of modern life and only becoming more important by the minute.
In 2015, voice search using popular virtual assistants went from 0% to 10% of all global searches. Today, 40% of all adults use voice search at least once a day with many using it as their only means of navigating the internet.
If you are serious about getting as many eyeballs on your web content you need to start optimizing for voice search more than you likely already are. With proper optimization you can push a flood of new targeted traffic to your web properties, videos, and social media content.
Voice Search Poised to Explode in 2018 and Beyond
58% of all adults report that they feel “tech savvy” when using the voice search component of their mobile device. With 28% of voice search users saying they find it more accurate than predictive typing on their mobile devices. Android users in particular make up the bulk of all voice search queries. With one out of every five searches carried out on an Android device in 2017, using tools like OK Google or the Google Virtual Assistant.
Siri remains popular and really helped to usher in the era of the Virtual Assistant. There were more than a billion voice searches conducted each week through 2017. In the first quarter of 2018, Apple expects Siri search volume to exceed two billion searches.
Voice Search isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon
As the “top dog” in global web search, Google no longer focuses quite as much on keyboard content when it comes to their search engine optimization algorithm. People are no longer searching for keywords, but instead searching “the way we speak”. This is largely because of voice search and it’s starting to translate to the more traditional “keyboard searching” as well.
According to Google, 19.5% of searches made in 2017 across every Google platform users phrased their search query as a question with the results returning as a direct answer to that particular question. They expect 2018 and beyond to be the “Era of the Question” and they would certainly know best.
Virtual Assistants and Mobile Devices Give Rise to Voice Search
As highlighted above, Apple kicked things off for voice search with the introduction of Siri. While Android devices had voice search capabilities at the time, they were not as polished as Siri the few years prior to her unveiling.
People went wild over the fact they could ask a computer anything they wanted. From serious questions to jokes, they would receive an intelligent response or link to relevant information.
Google and Microsoft answered with their own Virtual Assistant applications (OK Google & Cortana). Today these three Virtual Assistant applications are among the most popular of all voice activated search tools.
Of course, Amazon wasn’t going to let everyone else getting on the action without making some noise as well. They introduced Alexa, followed by the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot (pictured above), standalone devices that make use of the Alexa platform. These devices not only search the web using voice interaction, but can also control other devices, applications, and smart systems.
The Internet of Things is Here
This is giving rise to the Internet of Things (IoT). This will be an inevitable hyper connected web of all the things and technology that we interact with on a daily basis communicating with one another and remaining completely controlled by our devices.
Other hardware utilizing voice search and IoT protocols have released from Google and Apple. Google Home and Apple Home currently on the market with Microsoft rumored to release a Cortanta device in 2018.
People inevitably have to interact with these voice activated tools. Using voice search and voice command (as there is no traditional input device) it’s pushing the adaption of voice search even faster.
Young and Old are Taking Advantage of Voice Search
The millennial generation are making the most of voice search and voice command technology. This is in most part due to the fact they were “born” with this type of technology at their fingertips.
Somewhat surprisingly, is the fact that older generations (Baby Boomers) are also taking advantage. Use of voice search and command technology has rapidly grown in these demographics.
Those in the tech world aren’t all that surprised by these developments. Look at how tough a time the Baby Boomer generation had getting used to the idea of typing in something to a computer and having it return what they were looking for. It’s easy to see the attraction of being able to talk to a computer and have it talk back with the answers to your questions.
It turns out that voice commands and voice search are a much better and more efficient user interface for the older generations as well as the youngest one!
What You Need to Know about Optimizing Your Content for Voice Search
If you’re going to knock your voice search optimization efforts right out of the park, you’ll need to make the most of the inside information shared below. These tips and tricks will serve as the foundation of your voice search optimization and help you to better “future proof” your content going forward.
Longtail Keyword Optimization
Right out of the gate, this is where you’re going to want to spend the majority of your efforts. Researching important longtail keywords is critical for voice search optimization.
For quite a while now, longtail keywords have been increadibly important for traditional SEO. It’s a lot easier to rank for “best pizza in Philadelphia” than “pizza”, with the former representing a longtail keyword.
How do they impact voice search?
Obviously, when we use voice search we are mostly searching with longtail keywords. The most natural form of “speaking what we want” to our computer, smart phones, and our Virtual Assistant devices. In 2017, Google’s Sundar Pichai announced that AI speech recognition had a less than 4% failure rate. As artificial intelligence backed speech accuracy improves, the ability for our smart devices to understand exactly what it is we are looking for increases.
More and more people are going to become comfortable searching for “the highest rated hotels in the greater Dallas community” and at the same time voice search tools are going to do a much better job at returning EXACTLY those kinds of results. These are the kinds of longtail keywords you must be optimizing for.
On-page optimization of your content is always going to be the most important thing you can do to improve your voice search results.
Rather than “hotel in dallas”, you’ll want to write “the best luxury hotel in the Dallas area”. Other alternatives work such as “the most luxurious hotel in the Dallas area” or “affordable accommodations in Dallas”.
Copywriters should abandon corporate speak and completely forget about keyword stuffing. Instead, focus on writing content in a conversational tone to increase voice queries matching. All that conversational language will be picked up by the major search engines to return relevant results to those searches. At the end of the day, it is mission critical for you to have content created that is as conversational in nature as humanly possible.
If you haven’t overhauled your content yet, now’s the time to reach out to a competent copywriter and have them handle the heavy lifting.
Taking Advantage of Google’s Answer Box
The majority of voice searches are specific questions and have specific answers (relevant answers) returned at the top of the page. When Google introduced the “Answer Box”, it was specifically made to help usher in the era of voice search.
Nearly 50% of all voice searches conducted on Google or with Android devices are direct questions. Individual users are looking for a very direct or relevant answer. The Answer Box from Google is where responses display in “Position Zero”. This is the highest possible spot on relevant search engine results.
You should try to optimize your content for direct questions and their responses when possible. Obtaining “Position Zero” puts you in the most influential and dominant spot in the search engine rankings. You’ll even outpace traditional rankings that major companies have spent millions to accumulate.
You see, whereas people might have tried to search for “ceramic dog dishes” on their computer or their laptop, folks are much more likely to try and search for “Where can I find handmade ceramic dog dishes in the Boston area?”.
The difference is immense and the results returned will be completely different from one another. One is a general query that may or may not return relevant results, where is the other is a direct ask that implies the user is looking for something very specific and motivated to take action once they receive relevant results.
The Importance of Mobile Optimization
Mobile search and voice search are growing and in hand with one another, which isn’t at all surprising.
Together these technologies are “growing up with one another”. Both are interdependent on one another, and both are becoming a ubiquitous part of the way we use the internet day.
Mobile optimization utilizes geo tags and voice search to help return the most relevant results possible, making the most of the GPS tracking hardware, accelerometer, and location data collected by cellular towers to return the best possible results to your device regardless of where you find yourself.
How does it relate to voice search?
When partnered with mobile search engine optimization efforts, voice search becomes laser focused.
Travelers on a road trip may not ask “where’s the best hotel in San Francisco”, but may instead ask “where’s the best hotel around here”. Your voice optimization efforts will need to take this kind of generalized commands into account. Which is why you’ll need to mate as much of your voice search optimization efforts to your mobile search engine optimization efforts.
You need to be taking advantage of location data as much as possible. Your job with voice and traditional search optimization is to return the most relevant results possible.
Dialing In Your Optimization
Of course, you can’t afford to forget about the importance or the value of optimizing the loading speed of your website, either. This is always important, but it’s especially important with mobile and voice searches.
All your nearest competitors are going to be a couple of taps away if your mobile web presence doesn’t load up with lightning like speed. Search engine algorithms from Google and the other major networks also take page loading times into account. You don’t want to find yourself shuffled to the back of the page because your site loaded a fraction of a second or two slower than your competitors.
Asking questions like “when does the nearest McDonald’s close” should return answers that include:
The location of the nearest McDonald’s Directions through your GPS application to find that McDonald’s Business hours for that McDonald’s location as well as whether they are open right now Any deals or special coupons that can be currently applied … And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Again, it’s really all about flushing every aspect of your mobile presence and creating an online experience that is to be a tool for your potential customers and clients.
You need to think about how they are going to want to use the resources that you have to offer, as well as how they are most likely to find you, and reverse engineer your online presence according to that research.
The Importance of About Us and FAQ pages in Voice Search
Any website hoping to sell directly or indirectly should have some kind of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and About Us page. These pages can contained content that take advantage of both tradition and voice search tools.
An FAQ section should address all the common objections or obstacles that your prospects or customers may have. Design this page around the types of questions that visitors will ask with voice search, including topics like:
- The locations of any physical buildings you have as well as the nearest one
- Contact information that can be taken advantage of in a variety of different ways
- Shipping times if applicable
- Coupon codes, deals, discounts, and member rewards
…and any other questions that your potential and current customers may want to have answered.
This section is going to be the best place to load up on longtail keywords and conversational questions. Here you will push the kind of content you want to display when people ask relevant questions from voice search tools about your business.
The FAQ section will provide a bevy of longtail keywords and conversational questions that voice search algorithms can pull from to provide relevant details to searchers.
At the end of the day, you want to fill this section with content that you can imagine your actual customers asking.
Voice Search for Local Business is Critical
If you run a local pizza place, for example, you’d want to include a question like “What size pizzas does Local Joe’s sell?” in the FAQ section as well as a relevant response that voice search can read right back to those that are asking.
Again, you really want to reinforce geolocation information whenever possible. Mobile is where voice search is most used, and when people are out and about you have the highest chance of converting them to customers.
Remember, 41% of all adults and 55% of teens use voice search at least once every day. While 25% of all being searches are voice activated searches, and 20% of ALL Google searches are voice activated as well.
On top of that, 40% of all voice searches are requesting local information or include local conversational questions and requesting relevant local results. Google reports that this is THE most common activity on mobile searches, even outpacing sending a text or making a phone call.
The way we use the internet is constantly evolving, changing, and shifting right before our very eyes. It may be difficult to remember, but there was a time when there were dozens of popular search engines out there. More often than not they returned less than perfect results, making finding what you were looking for on the web a tall task.
2018 is shaping up to be the “Beginning of the Era of Voice Search”. Technology companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple are diving headfirst into the deep end of this newer search method.
You’ll want to use all the inside information we talked about above to better shape your voice search engine optimization efforts. Make sure to pay extra attention to your mobile optimization and the content you post online.
There is a unique opportunity for savvy business owners to grab a rock solid foothold on “the next big thing” in the world of online search. You don’t want to watch as it passes you by.