I don’t know about you, but for me, just being in 2019, I already feel that the future we imagine in movies is getting closer.
Cars that fly and drive alone, robots that do household chores, and the option of having the answer to any question almost immediately.
For those of us born in the 90s, what we saw as a distant and very advanced future is here.
Every day more and more people are doing voice searches on their smartphone or smart speaker, even, we have already begun to see how this voice command search tool is being used in cars with smart systems and even in appliances.
The point is: voice command searches are here to stay and the use of them will only increase over time.
Like the trend of consumers, every day will go more towards shopping through speakers, smart watches, and many other devices connected to the Internet of Things.
To support this, I present some recent data on the use of voice searches.
- One in two smartphone users performs at least one voice search every day.
- According to Google, by 2020, 50% of all searches will be by voice commands.
- 72% of people who have an intelligent speaker use it as part of their daily routine.
- In an SEO trend survey conducted in early 2019, voice searches came in third.
The truth of all this is that users want quickly and simple answers. So every day we get closer to a world dominated by searches and voice commands.
In this post, I will show you how to optimize your website and your social profiles to appear in local voice searches, if you have a physical business, or how to make the content of your website appear in the quick responses of search engines and the smart speakers.
What is voice search or voice searches?
“Voice search“, or translated into Hindi, “voice command search” is a speech recognition technology that allows users to search or execute commands just by saying a few words, instead of typing on the keyboard.
The increasing popularity of mobile phones and other smart devices has caused interest in these voice commands to rise.
Some of the most common applications of voice commands would be:
- Search engines like Google or Bing.
- Request specific information such as the price of the shares or the scoreboard of a football match.
- Play music or videos.
- Call contact.
- Make a purchase.
We could classify the different types of searches into 4 categories.
When a person conducts a search for voice commands, they want to know something specific such as the time or outcome of a match, learn how to do something for example by means of a recipe, buy a product or service, or go somewhere.
In the United States and Europe, this tendency to search through voice commands is very present. In Latin America, it is still beginning to emerge.
A device, in particular, has made this type of technology more present in every home: smart speakers, or “Smart Speakers”.
What are smart speakers and how do they work?
A Smart Speaker is an intelligent device, with an internet connection, which has integrated speech recognition technology. By which, this device is able to process what is being said and allows it to act, either by giving an answer or executing an order.
These devices have become very popular today, and there are a variety of manufacturers in the market.
Companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple are the ones that currently dominate the smart speaker market and lead in the development of artificial intelligence-based on voice commands.
Companies like Apple and Amazon have even given this Artificial Intelligence a more human name. Siri and Alexa, respectively, are the names chosen for the speech and language recognition technology they developed.
These assistants, always waiting to receive an order, start working when they hear a keyword.
Immediately after the speakers start recording what the user tells them, they send it to the internet to be processed on the company’s server, the AI decrypts the message and finally sends the response to the device.
The voice recognition services provided by these companies use algorithms that allow the system to become familiar with the type of words that the user uses most frequently in their communication patterns, and thus offer a more personalized service.
The best-known speakers and smart assistants at this time are:
- Echo from Amazon with integrated Alexa.
- Siri, integrated into all Apple devices.
- Google Home
- Xbox , Cortana
As you can imagine, this technology has already changed a lot the way we live and how we supply our needs thanks to the internet.
And that is exactly what we SEOs must understand: the world of organic search and results is changing (yes, again) and pointing more towards personalizing results.
And why is this important? It matters too much since not only the user’s preferred device will impact the search result, but also the search engine used and the region from which the search is performed.
Now understanding this, you can deduce that the results will never be the same for each person, for each device, and for each region.
Traditional searches against Voice Searches
The differences between voice command searches and traditional text searches will have a great impact on the results and how the algorithm delivers the answers.
The first difference consists of the search engine in which the query is made. In-text searches, we are free to choose the search engine. While in voice command searches, the device I own will determine the search engine I use.
Although Google remains in the number one position of the search engines preferred by people. Alexa Alexa and Microsoft Cortana use Bing by default. Between Alexa and Cortana, more than 50% of searches are performed by voice command. That means that most voice searches are done in Bing, not in Google.
The second difference is in what is sought. Studies conducted by Google show that there are still users who prefer to avoid voice searches for certain topics.
These studies also show user behavior and how they tend to use voice searches in quick questions and immediate answers.
Questions like where are the nearest pizzeria and until what hours is it open? or how to get to the nearest supermarket? This is why local SEO is more important than ever in voice searches.
While, for other more sensitive and sensitive issues, such as health questions or legal advice, users still prefer traditional searches.
And the last, and perhaps most important difference between traditional and voice searches is how they are performed. The tone, the intention, the way of structuring the sentence, and the choice of words, varies according to the type of search.
When the user performs a voice search, he tends to structure the phrase as a question.
Using a few words and a more natural language, choosing words that reflect a conversational tone.
To optimize a site and its content for voice, companies, and businesses will have to pay much more attention to the way in which their customers speak daily.
This will not only take into account the Long-tail keyword when optimizing but also take into account the cohesion of natural language in the content and that it is a quick response to the user’s search.
With this already said, we can now move into the practical; how to optimize my website and my content to take advantage of this emerging technology.
How to optimize for Voice and SEO searches
In this part of the post, I will show you how to optimize your website, your social network profiles, and your content to appear more often in the results of voice searches.
If you have a local business in your city, it makes perfect sense that you want to appear in one of the local searches. If, on the other hand, you have a purely online business, perhaps appearing in local searches will not be of much interest to you, however, you can benefit by bringing local traffic to your website with these local lists.
1. Have a local business profile.
If you don’t have a local business, then you can skip this part.
The first step is to create, claim, or optimize your Google profile, my business, Bing places, Yelp, or yellow pages. As relevant to your region.
Remember that there are a lot of voice searches waiting for local results. And if you want your customers to find you fast and easy, share your contact information and location on your website and other sites that link local businesses.
Make sure all the information you include in your local profiles is EXACTLY the same as you have on your website. Without adding or removing a comma. Everything, as you have it in one place, put it in the other. And choose the right business categories.
You can also add a description of your store, the products, and services they sell there, and if you can, some real testimonials.
As we have said, not all devices use Google listings to give their answers, some, such as Amazon’s Echo, use other services. In the case of the United States and Canada, they use Yelp or Foursquare. In the case of Spain or Colombia, the Yellow and Civic Pages.
And so, depending on the site that compiles the directory of local businesses in each country.
2. Improve the loading speed of your mobile version.
Voice searches mainly happen on mobile devices. It is very obvious that your site must be optimized for mobile.
Responsive design is a quick solution to this problem. And many WordPress themes already come with this feature.
To check if your site is optimized for the mobile version, you can use this Google tool called Mobile-Friendly test.
Once you have done the test, Google will tell you what you need to improve within your website so that the mobile version delivers a good user experience.
But everything does not end here. Now, we have to check the loading speed of our site.
It is no surprise that in an increasingly fast world, nobody wants to wait for what they want.
To determine if your website is loading fast, you can use another free Google tool called PageSpeed Insights.
This tool will review your site, and tell you how much it is taking to load and the things that stop it from a quick load.
All these we can control and improve. Just ask your programmer for help with the CSS and JS files, and if necessary, improve the quality of hosting where you have the server of your website.
3. Make your content “sound” more natural.
It is key to optimize your content to appear as quick answers to the questions that users may have, since when it is your content that answers those questions, you have a higher probability of gaining the trust and business of the user who made the question.
Do you remember the section where we talk about the difference of words that are used when performing a search by voice and text?
Well, it’s time to apply that knowledge.
To give you an example, let’s say you have a bar where people sit down to have a drink and watch sports. A person doing a text search can put something like “Sports Bar in My City”, while a person doing a voice search would ask something like “Where is the nearest Sports Bar?”
You need to pay too much attention to the words your customers use to refer to your business. And when you know how your most frequent customers refer to you, you can start including those words in the content of your page.
A good place to start researching the keywords and LSIs that your customers use could be SEO Hero.
What would happen if your customers, instead of referring to your business as a “sports bar”, call it “soccer bar”?
That is why it is important to do that research: what kind of words are my clients using to talk about my business?
This research can take you further since by discovering more about your clients, you can find topics for a blog post in the most frequently asked questions they have.
4. Structured Data Markup, Rich Cards and schema.org
The markup language, or Structured Data Markup, arises thanks to several search engines such as Google, Yandex, Yahoo, and Bing, with the purpose of adding metadata to the HTML of the site that allows search engines to understand its content and purpose.
This information is not visible to the user, but the crawlers see it and it helps them to classify your content.
Implementing the Structured Data Markup will help the visibility of your website since through this language we can tell search engines that there are certain features on our website (companies, hotels, location, schedules, qualifications, books, etc.).
In this way, if a user searches on Google; at what time does the supermarket open? Thismarkup language can quickly tell the search engine, and therefore the user, that the supermarket opens at 8 AM.
By using this type of markup language, we improve the visibility of our site as we can appear in one of Google’s Rich cards or Rich Snippets.
These are the results that add content and images in the SERPs and makes it look much more striking.
To test the status of your Structured Data Markup, you can use another free Google tool called Structured data testing tool.
If you have not yet included this metadata to your website, I would recommend Schema.org
The world of SEO and digital marketing never stop changing. On the contrary, they evolve every day and with more speed. Making work almost impossible.
And it is curious because when you ask an SEO what they like most about their work, they will probably tell you that “it is always changing and evolving.”
So, it is difficult to keep up to date in this world of digital marketing, but there are changes to which you must adapt or risk disappearing. The voice search is a clear example of that.
If you improve the speed of your website and if it looks good on mobile devices, you will already have a large share. If you add to that a strong presence in local search engines and content that speaks directly to the needs of your client, you will have the secret formula of success in this new world of voice searches.
Ankit Kharola is the digital marketing manager at Cliffex Software Solutions, a fast growing IT solutions provider specializing in web app development and android app development services. Ankit is a tech enthusiast and writes about the various Aspects of ecommerce technology.