The Growing Influence of Voice Search

“Alexa, how is voice search going to affect how I do search engine optimisation?”

By Graeme Watt, 12 January 2018


Voice search is no longer a thing of the future; we are now living in an age where (thankfully) we can talk to our devices without looking like a crazy person. Voice search is poised to grow exponentially and the recent Christmas sales of standalone devices such as the Amazon echo or Google home is only just the beginning of what we anticipate. ComScore estimates 50% of all searches will be voice by 2020

Staying at the forefront of the technology allows you to be prepared, so what needs to be considered when it comes to voice search? 

Voice search devices

Voice search is not that new a technology and indeed people have been using it for many years on their smartphones. It is particularly useful for longer search queries. The recent boom in personal voice devices such as the aforementioned echo and home is seeing the technology being more widely adapted by consumers.

Amazon_Echo_2_2017-02-23.jpg

You can find voice search on

  •         Personal voice-activated devices (Amazon Echo, Google Home)
  •         Siri/iPhone
  •         Android Phones
  •         Tablets
  •         Microsoft Cortana (found in desktop computers, Xbox and other home devices)
  •         Bixby (Samsung smart devices such as fridges)

Does voice search differ from regular search?

 We have become lazy when we search online. When we type searches it is a fairly regular practice to often miss words out or use shorthand for example “best takeaway Glasgow” or “actress hunger games”.

These queries although perfectly acceptable for this use, are not grammatically correct and could not be used in a real conversation between humans. Voice search allows us to search using normal sentences that sound organic; most voice searches also tend to have more than five words. We speak to the devices the same way we would speak to family or friends. 

Should I optimise for voice search?

Optimising for voice searches requires a different approach to keyword research. As we mentioned, this is more about long-tail conversational keywords and questions that people are likely to ask. It’s more about real speech and less about specific keyword choice.

Your content should focus on answering these questions in a succinct way to provide a better chance of ranking for these queries. Use keyword research tools to mine question ideas which are relevant to your business and create content which answers these.  

answerthepublic.com is a great website for generating questions which are relevant to your business. 

Anything else I should know?

The more Google understands your website the more likely it is to rank your site higher for voice queries; this is where structured data is helpful.

Structured data is extra code which is added to a web page that can help search engines understand the content on your site. A combined initiative by Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex, led to the creation of Schema.org.

This was driven by the desire to promote the standardisation of data markup on web pages.

Speak to your developer about adding the appropriate markup to your pages to give Google a full understanding of your website. There are loads of different things which can be ‘marked up’ including events, recipes, addresses, people and more.

 Google also has a helpful tool which can be found on the search console that allows you to test your markup to ensure its correct. 

And what about ‘skills’ and ‘actions’?

Skills (Alexa) and Actions (Google Home) are unique voice-based user interfaces, similar to apps on phones they simply execute programs and are designed to bring products or services to life. An example of one of these is tide which has an app that provides advice on removing more than 200 types of stain, Uber also has an app allowing a user to book a ride quickly with their voice.

These can be useful for brands to test out the new technology and provide some insight on audience adaptation. 

Conclusion

If you are serious about staying ahead of your competitors then voice search is not something which can be ignored.

We are the beginning of a boom and now is the perfect time to adapt and test. Who knows where voice capability is going to take us, controlling your entire home through the use of your voice may have sounded impossible ten years ago and yet it’s no longer a pipe dream with heating and lights already using the technology. What we do know is that voice technology is going to have a huge impact and there is no better time to prepare than today.

If you would like more information on how voice can fit into your SEO strategy please get in touch as we would love to have a chat. 

Cover Photo on VisualHunt.com

Amazon echo By FASTILY (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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