Few things about voice search:-
Voice search was just a technical fun element when it was released. Did you forget noob virtual assistant Siri and its hilarious answers to even very simple questions? Time has changed and so has changed the voice search. Today, voice search is no longer a noob, it has improved a lot. People who used to run away from using voice assistants are now asking voice assistants more than a billion questions a month. The number is only going to increase with time.
In the coming years, the way people obtain information will shift from traditional visual (type and search) method to increasingly voice-oriented search. This means that the search strategy needs to be enhanced too.
Below are the few questions related to the voice search that must be popping out in your mind:-
1. Why as an individual or a company, we need to bother about voice search?
Voice search has already gained very much popularity, and it has been expanding itself over years. As a result of a survey, it was found that more than 40 percent of adults in the United States perform a voice search every day. ComScore predicts that by 2020 around 50% of all searches performed by users will be voice search. These numbers are going to increase with time.
It is obvious to say that companies should reach the point where their customers already are or are about to reach if you want to survive in this rapidly changing digital world.
So far Google has the largest pool of information, almost anything and everything you want to know is available on Google. But, the sad part is; it is difficult to get relevant information from the ocean of information. It is still upto users to “search and search” until you get what you are looking for. On the other hand with voice search, the information presented to a user is in a limited amount. If a user is looking for a simple answer based on facts, the voice search is the best to go for.
Voice assistants were very lame in the beginning. But, now after years, Google’s, Amazon’s, Apple’s and Microsoft’s voice assistants are finally working beyond expectations. Voice search results are growing more reliable and precise. In current days Google is the best among all with 84% accuracy.
2. Difference between voice search and text search?
Not everyone notices it, but, our search parameter changes significantly when we perform voice search in place of text search. Where we use three to four words for text search we say a complete sentence when it comes to voice search. Users interact with virtual voice assistants as if they are human. The search result is much precise using voice search when compared to text search.
Gradually, voice search will not be just limited to smartphones, it will surely enter into the real world on a larger scale. It’s expected that you will find voice search almost everywhere from smartphones to whichever thing or place you can think of. The best part is voice search will evolve itself with time, with the help of increasing human interaction.
3. Source of answers voice assistants?
Micro-data, also known as a schema is actually a code on a website that helps search engines to deliver the most relevant answers to the requester. The average size of the answers delivered by the voice assistants is between 25 to 40 words, which indicates that the content they referenced must also be just as concise as the answer. In the current scenario, voice assistants lack the capability to read a big article or blog post, so, they can not filter out a precise answer from blogs and articles. By the above discussion what we learned is; there is a need to keep information on our websites in modular form so that they can be referenced by voice assistants easily.
You might not feel good to promote shorter contents. But, this is how voice assistants are accessing information and the number is going to increase exponentially with time. Rarely anyone will visit your website and will read the whole article to get what he or she wants. If you want to go hand in hand with the technology, it will be better to prepare contents in a concise way than fighting with long contents in the future.
4. Is content optimization possible?
The answer to the above question is a ” yes”, but it is not as easy as it sounds. Many parameters of traditional SEO strategy used for text-based search is used for voice search as well. With the voice search, the number of keywords included in search has increased and are going to multiply with time. We need to focus more on keyword-based research.
A good strategy will be to research what people are searching about. Many of us follow the approach of guessing all the possible questions a user might query about a product or a brand. It is not surprising to know that there are around thousands of questions that stick around any normal product. But, the aim is to find out ways to zero-down these questions to the common queries people have.
It is important to find out the frequently asked questions. So that you can create modular answers for these repeatedly asked questions. We are not done yet, we need to figure out the questions that we do not want to answer. Are you surprised? Yes, such negative questions exist that any brand doesn’t want to answer. For example questions like “How can I find a cheaper version?”, “Why doesn’t this work?”, “Where can I get the refund?”, “Cons of XYZ product?” and many other similar questions fall into the negative questions category.
Do not confuse this “filtering of questions” as a one time task. You will need to keep updating your “to answer questions” on a periodic basis to make sure that you have a pool of answers, which are up-to-date and are valid to answer voice searches.
5. Why is voice search a big deal for the Brands?
Voice searches most probably will become the most used search method, and if a brand doesn’t optimize accordingly, they might be left behind by the brands who are doing it. Below are the reasons behind why voice search is getting popular day by day:
- Boost in search speed: The voice search is relatively faster when compared to other search modes. You get an answer to your query in comparatively lesser time than what it takes to just write your query in the text-based search. You do not even have to look at your device to input your query. You just said it and it is done.
- Increased productivity: As we all know to speak is much faster and easy than to type the same. You will save a notable amount of time if you switch to voice search from the traditional text-based search. It’s very logical to say that when you save time you directly enhance your overall productivity.
- Increased customers base: If your customers start getting their query answered in seconds without much effort, only asking. There are high chances that your brand will attract more customers.
- Saviour for a group of people: There is a massive group of people who find it difficult to communicate with any brand, and sadly they are not able to match up with normal users. Unfortunately, as a brand, you are already losing these group of customers. Still wondering who are they? They are the people who are physically challenged to write or see. Voice search will be a great help to them along with a disguised help to you as a brand.
Let’s walk you through the core of our article i.e Voice Search Optimization:
All the big names in this digital world are going hand in hand with voice search, they have developed their own virtual assistants. For example, Google has developed Google Assistant, Apple has developed Siri, Amazon has developed Alexa and Microsoft has developed Cortana.
Voice assistants are based on machine learning. It means that with time they will become more efficient. Not only that, but it will also become very friendly(interaction wise) to the person who speaks to them on a regular basis. With the help of gained knowledge, virtual assistants will provide appropriate search results depending on the user.
You must be wondering what all things you need to do to go along with this big change and how to make the content and product related queries available to the end users when they ask for it on a wide global level? If yes, let’s move further in this article to get all the answers.
When we think of voice search the first thing that comes in our mind is smartphones. Do not take it in a wrong way, voice search won’t put down the market of other devices as we still use laptops and desktop along with smartphones. It is true that smartphones have become an inseparable part of our lives. When we need to know something instantly we look for our smartphones. Most of us cannot imagine a day or a life without a smartphone. And this is the reason why voice search is so much inclined towards smartphones.
Above discussion lead us to a point that before optimizing voice search, we need to optimize our websites to turn it mobile friendly, which will act as a base for voice search. Please follow the steps given below to make your websites mobile-friendly.
1. Mobile-friendliness test: Mobile friendliness test is not performed on website basis, it is actually performed on the basis of the individual landing pages. Which indicates that we need to check each page one by one, it sounds hectic, but the results are worthful. You may make use of a commonly used tool i.e WebSite Auditor for performing the test.
3. Google Search Console: You may cross-check the mobile version of your website by adding it in Google Search Console.
4. Stay away from using flash: Most of us know that flash is no longer supported by most of the mobile as well as desktop browsers. To ensure that Google(to crawl) and users can view all content on your website, stay away from using flash.
5. Decrease website loading time: Will you agree if I say most of the users(including you and me) will leave the website right away if it is taking notably long time? Yes, it happens. So in order to prevent this situation and to decrease the loading time of our mobile website, we need to use compressed images, music and videos.
Steps towards voice search optimization:
There is an inquisitive aspect with text and voice-based search. When we perform a text-based search, we type a number of unique keywords that indicates what we are looking for. But, when we perform a voiced-based search we usually talk to voice assistants like a fellow human being, hence we make our question very natural(the way we converse with our friends and family). To support the above discussion Google report says that 70 percent of the queries that Google Assistant receives are made out of natural language.
Following the above discussion, it is reasonable to assume that the approach to keyword research for voice search is very different from text-based search. Voice search is more about long conversational keywords and questions that people can most probably ask. So, if you master such long keywords and phrases and develop answers accordingly and serve your likely customers, you hold a better place in ranking for these queries and your answers may appear in search results.
1. Develop questions based content: Words with answers seeking approach such as who, what, where, why, when, and how, are heavily linked with voice search queries, as they are conversational in nature. So, you need to prepare your website’s content keeping this in mind.
2. Develop a habit of checking “People also ask” box: The “People also ask” box is a space filled with many numbers of related queries. It turns out to be a great help in knowing possible queries a user can ask for which ultimately help us in designing our content based on these queries.
3. Build a Q&A page: Forming a Q&A page is one of the simplest ways to optimize our website for words with answers seeking intent as discussed in the first point. This page will be responsible for asking as well as for answering questions that are relevant to your brand as well as the customers’ queries. The use of the sentences that are framed keeping “how people actually speak” in mind will apparently match with users queries.
How to optimize for a featured snippet?
With the surge of smartphones and voice search, the featured snippets earned a great importance. You must be wondering what is “featured snippets” and how it looks like? Let’s see how a featured snippet looks like on a smartphone before we discuss it in detail.
As shown in the above picture, it usually fills almost half of the mobile screen space. In case of voice search, the voice assistant will read it out for you. There are times when we are very busy that we do not even bother to see what is written on the screen, in such cases what we hear is what we know. Isn’t that very strange? But, this is how it goes.
Following are the steps to optimize your website in such a way that you will hold a good chance to appear as a featured snippet.
1. Engagement metrics: Before the real users, your website should look convincing to Google, so that your content will hold a chance to be considered for a featured snippet by Google. Use Google Analytics to check the important pages, which in your view holds a chance of being snippable. If you are not sure with which page you should start? Start with the pages which are having more quality backlinks pointing at them. After performing the check, go through the following important factors, and if you found that these important factors are having a lower value than average, it means that these pages need optimization.
- Bounce rate
- CTR (Click-through rate)
- Session duration
- New visitors
- The number of visited pages
2. Content should be snippable : We need to make our web pages in such a way that Google gets an idea that our website has a good number of answers that too in modular form. You can make use of the following inverted pyramid formula to arrange the data on your website.
- In the first layer keep the most important information which replies to “who, what, where, why, when, and how”.
- In the second layer keep the detailed description of what you showed in the first layer.
- In the third layer keep scenarios based on the first and second layer content.
3. Format optimization: Structure and format your website’s content using HTML in such a way that Google doesn’t find it difficult to retrieve appropriate answers for the answer box. Below points will help you to format your website content:
- Paragraphs: Prefer short summary over long answers to answer queries, Keep the word limit around 40-50 words so that your content can fit easily in the answer box. Format the paragraph using a paragraph HTML tag <p> and place this paragraph right under the question.
- Tables: Try arranging your content in form of tables wherever it is possible to do so. As tables are easily understood by humans and in this case luckily by computers too. And Google is a bit inclined towards including a table in featured snippets. Also, ensure that tables are well formatted using HTML table tag i.e <table>.
- Lists: Google has a good quality to re-arrange contents chronologically and take out snippets as per the need of question if the content is in a proper classified form. Proper classified form means to keep our content in a well-classified form using heading and subheadings with the help of HTML title tags such as H1 and H2.
4. Perform re-indexing: After making any changes to the website in order to make it snippable, perform re-crawling of the modified page or pages using Google Search Console. This step will almost immediately update Google’s index of the page. It means that the page ranking will be improved and if you are lucky enough you will get your content in the featured snippet on the same day you performed re-indexing.
Location specific optimization for voice search:
Most of us are aware and have used this feature of “near me” voice search. Voice search dominates text-based search when it comes to search based on location. We need to make sure that we are available when a user search is related to our place or the service we give. Also, according to Google, 75% of the people who perform nearby voice searches with the help of their smartphones end up visiting stores that appeared in search, that too instantly or on the same date, and many of them make the purchase.
Strategy to guide customers to your shop:
1. Create a Google My Business page: Do you have a Google My Business account? If no, you must create a Google My Business account if you want to guide valuable customers to your place. Ensure that the following correct information is provided to them. And also keep updating and auditing the information if there are any changes:
- Manual address.
- Address on the map.
- Contact details.
- Working hours.
- A brand related unique description.
- Place your brand under the right category depending on the type of service or product you deal with.
- Upload at least five photos.
2. Collect positive reviews: Whenever you face a happy customer, or in other words, you make a customer happy, try to convince them to leave a positive review. As more the number of positive reviews, more are the chances to get a position in Google’s local pack. Do not forget to check out Google’s guidelines for reviews. Along with positive reviews, you should also keep a track of negative review and comment on them suggesting a solution wherever possible.
3. AdWords campaigns optimization for the “Near me” searches: Are you using AdWords campaign for your brand? Yes? No? If yes, you can boost up your local business, and you can make it more available for both voice as well as non-voice search using the following guidelines. If no, you should start using it.
- Make sure that location extensions in AdWords are enabled, it will help in having your business’ address, phone number, and directions to your office displayed alongside your ads. Do not forget this very useful step if you want to get located in the “Near me” related searches.
- You can make use of Google Maps Local Search Ads. It appears along with the organic results in Google Maps. For guidelines regarding its uses, you may refer to this link.
At the end…
In this article, we walked through almost everything you need to know about “Voice Search”. We discussed: What is voice search? How it is different from text-based search? Why do we need to optimize our website according to voice search? How can we optimize our website for voice search?
Without any doubt, voice search is going to change the face of digital marketing over the next few years, but no one can guarantee how and to which extent. But, one thing that is fixed is: Voice search technology is only going to get enhanced and it will keep spreading on a larger scale. So it is important to get yourself prepared for it by keeping yourself and your website up-to-date and optimized in regards to the voice search. After a couple of years or maybe after a few months, sooner rather than later, you will be in a better position than your competitors who are ignoring this major change in technology.
Should you have any queries related to voice search. Write to us in the comments section below.