“41% of adults (and 55% of teens) use voice search daily.” (Google)
What is voice search?
Voice search allows users to search by using their voice instead of typing into a search field through either a computer, tablet, smartphone or their digital assistant device. The voice search craze may have begun with Apple’s Siri on the iPhone, but now we have Cortana on Windows devices, Alexa on Amazon’s Echo devices, and Google Assistant on Google devices.
With the current sales of the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices for the home, there will soon be no interruption of voice assistance whether home or on the road. In fact, 2018 saw record sales for Voice Assistant devices: “Globally, smart speaker shipments grew nearly 200% YOY in Q3 2018.”
Why is voice search so popular?
First of all it’s faster: “First, searching with your voice is 3.7x faster than typing.”
Second, it’s easier and more convenient especially when we’re using our mobile devices. “In fact, nearly 60% of mobile searchers use voice search at least some of the time.” And as we have more and more demands put on our daily routine, it’s just one less thing we have to do: “More than half of respondents in one survey stated they use voice search so they don’t have to type.”
Third, it’s safer for drivers. Since, we’re not using our fingers to do the walking (and searching), then our eyes and hands are focused on driving. “Using a cell phone while driving caused an estimated 1.5 million car accidents in the U.S. in 2018 according to the National Safety Council.”
Even our seniors are enjoying the Voice Search capability: “57% of those aged 50 and older are using voice search at least once per day.”
How will Voice Search affect your Internet Marketing?
“By 2020 50% of all searches will be voice searches.”
If your want your brand to stay competitive on the SERPs (search engine results pages) and now the Voice Search Results, you need to keep abreast of changing technologies and how they affect your SEO (search engine optimization). Since voice search will be more than half the searches in less than a year, now is the time to modify the way you develop your content marketing on your website.
I. Use Questions throughout your content.
I often spend time with my clients discussing keywords, how to research them, finding LSI keywords, and how to use them effectively throughout their content. Now those keywords will become more enhanced, more conversational and incorporated into a question format. Since we’re saving all that time typing out the search criteria, when we use our voice to search, we tend to use longer phrases, more words and often in question format.
When customers call, visit or email you, what types of questions do they ask? What are the topics of conversation they are apt to ask you about or comment on when it relates to your product or service? Write all of these down and use them when formulating content for your internet marketing channels. Once you have a list of those frequently asked questions by your customers, then create a FAQ page on your website. But don’t stop there, use natural sounding and often-asked questions on your pages, posts and in the headings and subheadings for better focus.
II. Use Long-Tail+ Keywords or More Conversational Keyword Phrases throughout your Content.
“Now keywords are no longer just keywords. Keywords in the voice search world are long-tail+. The ‘plus’ refers to the conversational phrases that you need to add when optimizing for conversational voice search.” – Search Engine Land
One survey noticed that text-based searches are more concentrated to 1-3 words, while speech searches are longer in the 7-10 word phrases. When we’re typing, we usually just enter the most pertinent keywords to specify the search with the least amount of keystrokes. When we speak, our searches become more conversational.
“In fact, Google states that 70% of searches on Google Assistant use natural language.”
So therefore, your keyword strategy now should also follow that pattern by being more conversational, and imitate the way real people talk as well as ask questions to their peers. How do you incorporate this method into your content creation? Use questions in a way a person would naturally ask it in a conversation, rather than type it in an email.
III. Think Carefully of the Types of Questions regarding your Location
“76% of smart speaker users perform local voice searches at least weekly.”
This statistics emphasizes the strategy of using Geolocation SEO. So, for example if you’re a pizzeria in Knoxville, TN, a sample question that you could ensure is on your website, “What is the best pizza in Knoxville Tennessee?” And back that question up with solid evidence, or in this case, a local readers’ choice award, a five star rating on Google or Yelp, a testimonial or a food critic review. Make sure the answers adequately answer the questions your customers are asking or that you anticipate they will ask via voice search.
“28% of consumers go on to call the business they voice searched for.”
You should also make sure that your contact information is easily accessible with an address, city, state, phone number throughout your answers and on every page of your website (on the top bar or footer). Include the “near me” phrase with your keywords in your title, tags, meta description and anchor text. Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date, with correct locations, contact information, hours of operation, categories, and descriptions of your services and products. (*We’ll be discussing more about this in our next blog).
IV. Use Questions that Convert Voice Search Visitors into Customers
“Voice commerce is expected to touch $40 billion in the U.S. by 2022.”
Voice searchers are engaged and ready to convert to a customer so we want to ensure our businesses come up as an answer. They want a quick easy answer to where they can find the product/service they’re looking for. For example, instead of a text search for “best gaming computer ”, now the voice search could be, “Where can I find a Hi-Res Gaming PC with No Lag for under two-thousand dollars?” Offer quick, succinct answers to questions that your target audience are looking to buy to fulfill their needs or wants.
V. Use structured data markup to assist voice searches.
What is Structured data markup? Structured data is the “extra” information that you see next to a website and meta description on the SERPs. This is the snippet of text (around 160 characters) under the link (see picture above). I often teach my clients how to use, add and modify the structured data markup for each page/post, made easier with the SEO plugins I added to their site. These 160 characters should offer a well-thought out, engaging synopsis of the page or post. And now with voice search it should ask and answer a common question your target audience is asking and that is answered on that page.
“Structured data markup from schema.org is crucial for your site, as it defines more specific information and makes it easier for search engines to accurately parse your content and understand its context.” – Search Engine Land
Your Q&A Format may have an Added SEO Bonus … The Google Answer Box
“On average, the Google Answer Box secures an astounding 32.3 percent CTR (click through rate).”
What is the Google’s answer box? “Google’s answer box is a unique SERP result that is powered by the knowledge graph or scraped from a site that provides an adequate answer. It is typically displayed at the top of the results page, but below ads. This is Google’s attempt to directly answer a query without the need for clicking a SERP result.” – SEOClarity.net
Since 2016, Google SERP has added the rich featured snippet of Google’s Answer Box to make search easier and enjoyable, usually in an accordion style, with other related questions below it that expand to give you answers and links where those answers can be found in greater detail. In 2019, studies found that since it’s inception, keyword terms are now more than 4-6 times more likely to trigger an Answer Box result.
Since the click-through-rate is so high, these are highly sought out positions on the SERPs. The discussion about how to rank your content so that it shows up in the Answer Box is another, rather complicated discussion. Yet, one added featured of utilizing the question and answer format of your content is that you are more likely to appear on these Answer boxes especially for queries with low competition or those with inadequate answers.
In Conclusion …
“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” – Thomas Berger
Since we live in a fast-paced, digital age where the number of devices we use ironically make life more complicated and busier, we can do well by helping our target audience by simplifying their searches. Provide succinct, informative answers to common questions your customers ask. Include location, phone number, and accurate, detailed product and service descriptions in those answers. Optimize your website and your Google Business listing to make sure your customers can find you. And answer questions that you anticipate your target audience will be asking so they can find your website through those answers.
There’s no question that Voice Search is having a huge impact on our lives, so take time to ensure that your internet marketing strategy is impacted as well and responds positively to this trend.