Monday 14th of December 2020
Alexa, Siri, Cortana, or Google Assistant, you definitely know at least one of these names. Artificial intelligence is getting better every day, and as the technology improves, we find new uses for it. Indeed, the use of artificial intelligence was mostly limited to businesses until a few years ago when homes became smart homes. We saw the first appearance of smart speakers, smartphones, and even smart appliances. As a result of this, we’re now forming new habits and shaping new trends around those products, one of which is the use of voice search.
Although voice recognition technology got better with time, it is still not perfect and there is definitely room for improvement, as shown by the rather blunt Google search predictions below. As a quick reminder, predictions are based on the search volume for certain terms. If you want to learn more about search engine marketing and how to use search listening to your advantage, you can read this article. And for the most curious, we’ve even included more detail in this article on how to produce the right content for your audience.
Going back to voice search, do you remember that time when you were making fun of Siri only because it would come up with a funny and irrelevant transcription of what you had just said? Nowadays, this sounds a completely different story. Despite a few hiccups, voice recognition technology has improved massively since it very first started in 1952, and Google Assistant now boasts an 87% accuracy rate whilst Baidu is nearing 100% accuracy rate.
With such impressive accuracy rates, and an “explosive growth” in the use of voice search across the globe, it is easy to imagine what the future will look like. People will probably be using voice search while driving, cooking, shopping and more. The newly formed habit has undeniably become more and more prominent over time, and if you don’t believe us, take a look at these stats.
In 2016, 20% of all searches were voice searches, and despite the lack of recent figures, we know for a fact that this can only be increasing given that global smart speaker sales reached a record 147 million units in 2019.
72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say they use it as part of their daily routine according to Google.
A 2019 survey from Adobe reveals that 44% of voice technology users use it on a daily basis.
Interestingly, the magazine Search Engine Watch found out that mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local searches (“near me” searches) than text-related searches, hence the importance of brushing up your local ads and your local SEO knowledge! Indeed, people who are on the go are more likely to search for local information, which could be anything from restaurants, hotels, and shops, to home delivery services and local events. As stressed by experts at Search Engine Land, businesses “will need to employ new strategies for local voice search” if they want to be discovered. If you need some advice on local search marketing, you can have a look at our blog post, or get in touch.
Anyhow, if you enjoyed our previous blog posts about search listening and local search - there is a theme going on here - this one is for you. You may be wondering, why write a piece about voice search? Well, this is not just another type of Google search, voice search doesn’t quite work the same way as other types of search, and you may be missing out on a few marketing tricks.
The way we talk is obviously very different from the way we write. According to the co-founder of the voice strategy start-up Vaice, “we’re more natural in the way we structure our requests”. We are more conversational and voice searches reveal greater intent than keyword searches. For example, you might type “foot pump for tyre” in the search box, but you might say “Where can I get a foot pump for my flat tyre?” to your voice assistant.
Here is how to optimise your website for voice search and make sure your content shows up in voice search results.
Carry out keyword research. Bear in mind that people ask questions when they talk to their voice assistants, from your point of view, you will need to answer these questions on your website. If you think it could be valuable to your business, create an FAQ where you gather all the information that your customers need in one place. When doing keyword research, the key point is to cover all types of user intent in order to answer all the questions your searchers may have. The four types of user intent are informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial intent.
Target long-tail keywords. This is the obvious next step after carrying out your keyword research. Indeed, once you know what type of questions your audience is asking, you can easily bid on these longer and more specific keywords. An advantage of bidding on these keywords is that user intent is generally stronger and therefore, people are more likely to convert.
Make sure that your business address, opening hours, and contact details are up to date. As we previously said, near me searches represent a big part of voice searches so make sure that ALL your business listings are consistent and up to date. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some business listings you may be interested in: Google My Business, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Opendi, Cylex, Guidelocal, Where To, abclocal, Citipages.
Use schema metadata. This type of microdata tells Google what your content is about and how you want your content to be. This data is directly added to the HTML code of your website, and helps the search engines’ crawlers interpret your website content. This can in turn improve your website’s rich snippets (see example below) and help your website stand out in the search results. On top of being very useful for your searchers, this type of markup language is widely underutilised, so this is likely to give your website a nice competitive edge in the search results. However, Wordstream warns us, this practice “is not a quick and dirty SEO hack – instead, think of schema as a best practice to make it easier for search engines to find and display your content”.
Optimize your page speed. A recent study from SemRush found out that page speed is one of the key factors influencing ranking in voice search results. A good page load time is between 1 and 3 seconds, so make sure you don’t overload your website with heavy images and videos, and most importantly test it. For more information on how to improve your website page speed, you can have a look on the HubSpot website.
All in all, this is only the beginning of the voice search era and, at Finesse Digital, we all expect it to become even more popular in the near future as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology become more advanced. Many questions related to voice search are yet to be answered, making it hard to predict the evolution of the trend and how people will use voice search in the future. However, we never say it enough, but the best way to stay on top of the search results is to keep an eye on new trends and of course adapt your strategy accordingly. Optimising your website for all types of search is a continuous process that requires time and effort, so our only advice is to be patient and you will soon see the result of your hard work.