Why Do Businesses Need to Optimize For Voice Search
Voice search optimization is a huge source of potential traffic that not all businesses are aware of
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When it comes to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, you need to be willing to do two major things: put effective research into your keywords and adapt your SEO strategy for the future. The reason behind the first is the importance of targeting what your audience is looking for. The second stems from a number of different things. For one thing, changes in Google's algorithms may make certain strategies more effective or outdated. In other cases, it's the actual way people search for information that's changing. This is where voice search comes in.
The Need For Voice Search Optimization
Google Voice Search has been growing in popularity over the last few years, to the point where CEO Sundar Pichai said that one-fifth of all Google queries were voice searches in 2016. Today, that's grown even more. The rise of digital assistants, as well as mobile searches, mean that voice searches are now beginning to enter the mainstream on a whole different level. In addition, there's now an easily accessible voice search option for every major platform.
Part of the major appeal of digital assistants and voice searches is the fact that they add a layer of simplicity compared to even conventional search methods. Put yourself in the mind of a search engine used for a moment. Has there ever been a time where you tried to look for something and weren't happy with the results you've gotten? In some cases, you may have needed to shuffle your wording around or refine your search to get to that point. On paper, voice search gets rid of this step by being naturally geared toward conversational speech rather than typing.
Combine this fact with other added features that digital assistants possess, and it's easy to see why some experts are predicting that 50 per cent of searches will be voice searches by 2020. For SEO professionals and businesses with existing SEO strategies, though, this means that they need to adapt now.
What Comprises Voice Search Optimization
At the core, optimizing your SEO content for voice search versus typed search is about understanding the subtle differences between how we type and how we speak when seeking information. One great example of this is long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are already quite important in SEO, generally providing a way for creators to add some specificity to their content so they can both reach targeted audiences and rank higher on Google. However, with the advent of voice search, long-tail keywords are more important than ever.
Why is this the case? To put things simply, long-tail keywords are easier to say that they are to type. This is useful for businesses trying to improve their SEO. For example, a longer keyword makes it easier to discover searcher intent compared to a shorter one. For example, if someone did a text search for "best tablets," you wouldn't be able to tell if they were trying to learn about tablets or make a purchase. However, something like, "best affordable tablets for travellers," is a lot more specific.
Along with changing your keywords to match this change, you also need to adapt to speech patterns versus text patterns. Read through the last few texts you made on your phone and imagine how you would speak those sentences if you were face-to-face with the person. There are a lot of differences, not just in abbreviations or emojis, but in sentence construction and word choice. It's key that you account for this in your SEO.
One other interesting thing that the advent of voice search is doing is putting local SEO at a premium. Part of this is due to the parallel trend of an increased number of mobile searches. In a lot of cases, people who are in a certain area and looking for something may do a mobile voice search to get directions. This is a huge source of potential traffic that not all businesses are aware of. To take advantage, make sure you are making use of keyword groupings that are relevant not only to your business's purpose but its location. This is also a good time to make sure that your site loads quickly and is mobile-friendly.
In the end, though, you're still going to want to adhere to the SEO basics to a certain degree. When Google's John Mueller talked about optimizing for voice search in a Webmaster Central Hangout, he concluded with the following advice:
"Really kind of focus more on trying to make it so that Google and other search engines can understand the context of information a lot better and to make sure that your content is written in a way that can be read aloud. Which I think is a general guidance anyway."
Remember, voice search may be changing the method of delivery, but the general principles of SEO are going to remain the same.