Voice search is growing quickly. Having first appeared in 2015 it increased from zero to 10% of all internet searches globally. Fast forward to 2016 and 41% of adults were using voice search on a daily basis. As new voice search options and devices flood the market such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Microphone and Microsoft Cortana, the voice search phenomenon is just getting started.
What is Voice Search
Voice search is any instruction given verbally to a mobile device in order to perform a search. The voice recognition software passes your verbal command to the Artificial Intelligence software which takes account of multiple factors including your previous search history, your location plus information it may have on the context behind a phrase and then provides an answer for you.
Now that voice recognition has improved its accuracy way beyond the immensely frustrating systems you’ve encountered on phone systems and now coupled with the latest AI developments, it is hugely powerful.
Having a way to search using your voice is appealing. It’s hands free, fast and now that it is intelligent enough to work out what you’re asking, it provides clear advantage over a standard typed Google search.
Why Voice Search is Different
When users perform a voice search the language they use is very different to what they may type into Google to find the same thing. For example, if you are looking for a marketing agency in Salisbury you might type ‘Marketing Agency Salisbury’, whereas when you are speaking you are more likely to say something such as ‘Are there any Marketing Agencies in Salisbury?’, or if you are in the area already perhaps ‘Where’s the nearest Marketing Agency to me?’
These new voice searches give away much more intent than a text search and may even giveaway what the user is looking for and whether or not they are looking to buy, for example “Where is the nearest Marketing Agency that provide social media support?”
Google has been developing its ability to understand user intent from their searches. The two main updates to their search engine that relate to this are called Hummingbird and RankBrain. These updates mean that Google is now crawling your website, interpreting the content on the site and then referencing this against the meaning it has established from various search phrases.
In short, rather than optimising for the keywords such as ‘marketing agency Salisbury’ we now need to consider the other factors that will influence the results a voice search system will provide. The search results may also consider your location, reviews from users who have visited matching businesses and the number of social media check-ins within a recent period of time. This will give a good indication of proximity, quality and popularity of the matching businesses.
So, in this new age of voice search your marketing has to do a lot more than just incorporating keywords into your website. It must provide content that gives answers to the sort of questions users are asking and to be supported by social signals that show you are a credible and a popular choice.
How to Optimise Your Marketing for Voice Search
If your business has customers visiting you, then consider adding more location related content to your website. Include any local landmarks or an area of a city you’re in. Use phrases that people use to describe your neighbourhood and local places that are related to your business.
There are many other things you can do that will most likely need to be updated by your web designer or digital marketing advisor. These include what may be considered today as obvious, such as ensuring your website is mobile compatible through to using something called Schema Markup and Microdata to provide content that explains to Google exactly what the content on the page is. The more information and context you can provide to the search engines, the more likely you will be ranked above your competitors who are still to adapt to the new methods.
Another thing to consider is adding an FAQ section to your website. A lot of searches revolve around users looking for quick answers. Providing a FAQ page will give search engines information they need to deliver an answer. Most voice searches begin with “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “When”, “Why” and “How” phrases. Blog posts will also be useful when considering the different sort of questions users may ask.
Start encouraging and requesting reviews, incentivising customers to check-in at your location and broadcast your messages on multiple channels.
Voice search is becoming a big component of the future of SEO and digital marketing, so the sooner you start to consider it and include it in your website and marketing activities the better.