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The Future Of Online Marketing & Voice Search

Voice Search & The Future of SEO

It is estimated that by 2020, 30% of all website sessions will be conducted via voice search – without a screen. Another prediction by comScore put the statistic at 50%. You may be wondering how that is possible.

Voice search has an advantage over text-based search in the sense that it allows users to surf the web, the internet and get information without necessarily scrolling through sites on mobile devices or desktops. Voice search technology may help businesses grow their brands in the future.

What is Voice Search?

Voice search is basically about users speaking into a device as against typing keywords into a search query to generate results. It uses an audio technology based on speech recognition to understand what users say with high accuracy and returns results orally to the user.

This seemingly brand-new concept has been around for quite some time. Some examples of voice search are programs such as voice dialing and speech-to-text. Also, applications such as Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Alexa all use voice search capabilities.

Specific devices, as well as brands, websites, and platforms,  can be optimized for voice search. An example, in this case, is Amazon Alexa, which can seamlessly search over Spotify’s musical inventory, shop on Amazon quickly at a user’s command, or scan Wikipedia. This shows how some brands chose to optimize their interfaces with voice search compatibility.

How does voice search Affect SEO?

Voice search significantly improves user experience since they can speak directly to the devices and get results for their query. As a result of convenience it offers when browsing the internet, it is estimated that by the year 2020, about half of an online search will be done by voice search.

Voice search is rapidly growing in use, and search engines such as Google are placing more importance on voice search optimization. The main essence of SEO is to accurately rank websites so that users can find the best information they are looking for as fast as possible. Therefore, user experience is key when it comes to search engine optimization.

As at January 2018, reports have it that an average of one billion voice searches is performed monthly, giving credence to the prolific use of voice search.

Nevertheless, one thing to have in mind is that voice search SEO and conventional website SEO are not the same. So they may or may not be affected by the same factors.

However, below are a few tips to help you optimize content for voice search.

voice search alexa siri

How to optimize content for voice search

Since voice search describes users voice query, there are certain steps to take to optimize content for voice search.

The steps below will help you improve your content for voice search rankings.

  1. Improve page speed: just like conventional SEO, Google voice search favors websites with fast page speed. To make your website load faster, do the following:
  • Make your website responsive
  • Optimize images
  • Compress files
  • Use website caching to improve page speed
  • Reduce server’s response time
  1. Write in a conversational tone/optimize for conversational search queries: when users perform a text-based search for content on their devices, they mostly write in short keyword phrases. For example, “top graphic design companies”. However, for voice search, a user might say “Who are the top graphic design companies in Alaska?”

So, to optimize your content for voice search, include long-tail keywords that sound more natural instead of shorter keywords that perform well in conventional SEO.

  1. Optimize for featured snippets: include snippets in your content, that is a concise summary of your main content above the fold and keep it below 29 words. Google easily reads sections with H-tags, bullets points, and lists, so they tend to perform well. In addition, ensure to include your long-tail keywords within the featured snippet.
  2. Focus on local searches: it is recorded that about 22% of voice search queries are for location-based content. So, brands can create voice search content from local content.

What can voice search do?

Today, voice search programs, such as Google voice search app, listens to what a user says, tries to figure what he means, and then it attempts to find answers to the user’s query on the internet. Voice search apps work by linking speech recognition approaches to complex natural language processing systems. Therefore, in addition to figuring out what a user says, it also figures out what is meant and the expected outcome or intent. Presently, a lot of mobile devices have been incorporated with the Google voice search app which allows users to “Google” without the keyboard.

What percentage of Google searches are voice?

According to Google, 20% of mobile queries are voice searches. Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced this in 2016 during his Google I/O keynote on the context of introducing Google Home – Amazon Echo competitor.

Whether this statistic is still accurate today, one thing that is clear is that voice searches are on the rise. The reason for this rapid growth is because users find this function very useful especially when they are on the go and need to perform a quick, hands- or eyes-free query.

Voice search may not totally replace text-based search, but they are well suited to some specific user scenarios and offers great convenience.

What search engine do Alexa and Siri use?

For Siri, the voice search results for the majority of queries are from Google, except for location-based results. When a user asks for a nearby venue, Siri crawls Apple Maps for results. So Siri relies on Google for search results.

On the other hand, Alexa relies on Bing to perform content searches. Alexa is the voice technology built on Echo and its users use it whenever they need help with basically anything. Alexa can also deliver results from third party apps such as Accuweather.

The Future Of Voice Search

With the growing use of voice search rather than text-based search, it is evident that consumers are switching towards a hands-free digital world.

However, voice searches are performed differently compared with their text-based counterparts. When users are performing a voice search, they use natural language like they would when speaking to a friend or family rather than using specific keywords. Consequently, this is changing the status quo for SEO.

What does the future hold for voice search? One important thing about the future is that no one knows with 100% certainty what is going to happen. But we can make predictions and prepare for it. There’s no real harm if your company or business decided to set a budget aside on optimizing for the 50% consumers predicted to be using voice search by 2020. ComScore has predicted that “By 2020, 50% of all searched will be carried out via search.” Smart business owners will position themselves to be ahead of their competitors.

It is clear that voice search is on the rise. As business owners, it will be wise to start optimizing for voice search. You must put yourself in your audience’s shoes and start optimizing your content accordingly. The future of SEO is natural language processing. It is always better to get involved at the early stage to be ahead of your competitors.

A stitch in time saves nine.

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