By 2020, 30% of all internet searches will be conducted without a screen, via voice search. Is your brand ready for the shift?
Many small businesses I’ve worked with were caught off guard by the mobile-first shift and are still suffering the consequences of failing to acknowledge the importance of it. With restrictive budgets and limited time to spend on evolving their digital strategies, many chose not to prioritise optimising their sites for mobile users and as a result took a major hit. So how can you make sure you stay ahead of the game when the next evolutionary step in eCommerce becomes common place?
What you need to know
(If you’ve been hiding under a rock this part is for you.) Voice-only search allows users to browse the web for consumer information without actually having to scroll through sites on desktops and mobile devices via a smart home device.
Will voice searches drive traffic to my website?
Although it doesn’t appear that voice search results will directly contribute to a surge in website traffic, it will certainly help with your brand awareness and could lead to direct conversions, if utilised in the right way.
What does it mean for SEO strategy?
This new technology may be the key to successful brands in the future, but it is important to remember that voice search SEO and traditional website SEO are different. Therefore, some factors that affect website rankings may or may not have the same effect on voice search – and vice versa.
What are the main differences?
The first main difference will be the length of the query. When typing, a user is more likely to type short yet concise queries e.g. “best vlogging cameras”, but when using a voice search, they will most likely use a full sentence i.e. “Alexa, what are the best cameras for vlogging”. People will not only give commands using different words or phrases, but will also pose more as questions (as we’ve just seen). Most people use short queries of 3-5 words with text searches, but with digital assistants longer, more natural questions will be queried more often. For this reason, providing how-to guides and FAQs are great ways to show up in voice search results, as you are able to provide quality content while addressing common answers to question-based queries on voice search.
How do you use content to your advantage?
When answering questions, voice search uses google’s answer box (also known as the featured snippet, or position zero), as its first point of call. Optimising your content, so it’s most likely to appear in the Answer Box gives you an immediate benefit when it comes to voice search optimisation. The Answer Box tends to work well for the following kinds of searches:
Calculations and conversions
Health (particular symptoms of illnesses)
Your content is more likely to display in the Answer Box if it is short, easily digestible and ranks well organically.
How to make sure your site is optimised for the change?
The foundations of basic SEO will still come into play after the shift so it is definitely worth staying on top of the basics. Google will still rank according to domain authority and trust, site speed and general user experience so don’t abandon your traditional SEO strategy just yet. You want to ensure that your site is responsive to mobile devices, that you utilise website caching to improve page speed, all files are compressed, imagery is optimised and your server’s response time is generally reduced. Conducting a general weekly site audit is a great way to ensure you retain your presence high in the rankings.
Is mobile-first still a priority?
Yes. Over half of all Google search queries currently come from mobile devices (more than 20% of which are voice searches). As these figures climb throughout the next year, the need for solid mobile optimisation strategies are crucial. Let’s run through a few of the basics you should action:
Make sure your site contains crawlable resources and a mobile-friendly design
Be hyperlocal with title tags and meta descriptions
Focus on local content
Why is local content important?
Local queries are three times more likely on mobile devices than standard desktops. Therefore, brands have a higher chance of producing voice search content if they invest in local content. Start by updating your Google Business listing. Make sure you set your profile up with your name, email or address and phone number for every user that finds your business. By making this information available, you are helping with ranking your site with Google in the local search world. Try using phrases like “near me” in your content. The phrase “near me” is a universal and one you should remember. Whenever the two words are present, Google’s voice search algorithms go to Google business listings. That is where your brand’s name needs to be listed and present.