Until a few decades ago, vocally interacting with a computer was science fiction. Thanks to an exponential growth in science and technology, it has now become a fact of life.
It is evident that people are becoming more inclined towards voice-based searches. It was reported that 40% of adults now use voice search once per day.
The trend was brought to notice with Apple’s SIRI. Microsoft soon followed suit with Cortana. With the launch of Alexa powered Echo last year, Amazon stepped into the race. The 500% application growth for Amazon Alexa is just more proof of the acceptance of voice search by the users as a new way to search.
Why is voice search becoming popular?
The number one reason for the popularity of voice search is convenience, followed closely by a shorter response time. With the improvements made in voice recognition technology, voice-powered searching is becoming more accurate and thus, more popular.
In fact, a study conducted by Statista revealed that 28% of users find voice search more accurate than a search conducted using a keyboard.
Another reason behind the popularity of voice searches is the increasing popularity of “virtual assistants” such as SIRI and Alexa. For instance, it is now possible to order a product on Amazon through voice command, thanks to Alexa.
Optimizing your website for voice search
In the times where voice search is gaining traction among the users, not optimizing your website for this format might turn out to be a missed opportunity. Google reports that voice search queries over their search engine in 2016 are up 35x over 2008. Moreover, in a survey conducted by creative strategies, it was found that 28% of users have used Cortana on their desktops.
At a time when around a third of smartphone owners use their personal assistants regularly, it makes sense to optimize your website to reap the benefits. This means that doing voice search optimization now will put you ahead of the competition when voice search volumes start competing with normal search volumes.
However, although unlike SEO, there are no specific guidelines for optimization, that doesn’t mean it is impossible. Check out these hacks you can employ in order to drive more search traffic to your website.
Check out these hacks you can employ in order to drive more search traffic to your website.
Understanding how people use it.
Since voice search is relatively new, there are not a lot of metrics to go on. However, the Hound App took the first step and revealed the reality of their voice searches. As the graph above illustrates, the total amount of searches can be segregated into four categories:
- Personal Assistant tasks: Setting reminders and alarms, creating to-do lists etc.
- Fun and Entertainment-related searches: Social media related searches, playing and searching for songs and videos, looking up movie shows, looking up TV show timings.
- Searches for general information: General web searches for recipes, news, travel.
- Local Information: Searches related to weather, traffic, and business listings.
You will notice that the only area with potential is when someone searches for local information or businesses.
Voice search optimization for Local Listings
As mentioned earlier, it is possible for local businesses to do voice search optimization for searh. This first step is to establish a presence across business listings on the web. This is because most virtual assistants depend on business aggregator sites to display results. For example, Amazon’s Alexa Echo uses Yelp listings.
The key here is to understand how the search would be conducted. To understand this, you will have to think like your customer. Imagine what voice search terms relate to your business. For instance, someone might search for “Chinese takeaway restaurants near me”. So if you are a Chinese takeaway restaurant, you might want to optimize for these terms. Bottom line, think of the search queries or questions pertaining to your business and optimize for those terms.
Keep in mind that people might use different terms to describe the same place. For instance, some might call a pizza place a “pizzeria”, or instead of searching for some “near me” someone might search for something “close by”. For “near me” searches, most assistants use the GPS location of the device and cross-reference it with Google’s My Business listings to display results.
In 2013, Google rolled out Latent Semantic Indexing to better understand the intent behind the searches being conducted on their search engine. With the increasing popularity of voice search, the importance of understanding this intent for businesses is more than ever before.
This means that only targeting a couple of short keywords is not going to help you when it comes to voice search. Instead, start targeting long-tail, or semantically related keywords. The reason is simple, long tail keywords resemble speech very closely, which gives you an advantage when it comes to voice-powered searches.
It has thus become important for companies to understand how people would talk about their business in real life. To get a feel of the questions or phrases you need to target, try having a conversation with your friends about this, or you can even use this tool.
Answer The Public is a tool that will tell you the possible voice search terms when you enter specific keywords into their tool.
Make use of Microdata
Microdata refers to a business’s location, phone number or even the price at which it offers a particular service or product. As discussed earlier, most voice searches are local, and thus, sometimes make use of microdata to fetch information.
Therefore, it is a good idea to make your business information such as contact information, operational timings, map location etcetera readily available to the search engine. Target as many business listing websites as you find relevant to your business, and make sure your company’s Name, Address and Place (NAP) details are consistent across the web.
Optimize for Mobile
About 60% of all searches on the web are now being done through a mobile device. If that is not reason enough to optimize for mobile, you can consider the fact that voice searches are almost exclusively conducted through mobile devices. A study even found that 40 percent of smartphone owners started using voice in the latter half of 2015. This number is bound to have increased by now.
The bounce rate on mobile devices is 9.56% higher than on desktops. This means that there is a parity between what is being provided by the publishers and what users are looking for. Optimizing for mobile now would let you exploit this to your advantage by putting your business a little ahead of the curve.
The best part is, Google now offers a free tool to test the mobile-friendliness of your website. If your website is not up to the mark, the tool is designed to inform you of the areas where it is lacking and give you tips on how to improve your website for mobile.
Voice Search Analytics
So far, there have been no analytic tools dedicated to voice search. However, tracking your voice search traffic is not entirely impossible.
The only way to track voice search is through paid search. Combine a paid campaign with Google’s “Broad Match”. Using broad match allows you to dictate specific keywords for which your ad will be displayed.
From here, you can track impressions received by mobile devices through Google Analytics easily. Once you have the list of all the searches conducted through mobile devices, you can start looking for phrases that sound like something someone would say, and not type.
This by no means gives you a definite number of voice search visitors. However, it does give you a rough picture of the voice search pertaining to your business. This information is highly valuable, and if interpreted and analyzed the right way, can provide integral insights to guide your future strategies.
According to Comscore, by 2020, almost 50% of all searches will be voice searches. It is expected that voice search technologies will develop more comprehensive tools to cope with the changing trends.
Google has been very explicit with the importance it gives to improving user experience. Looking at the increasing popularity of the voice search trend, we can expect this technology to improve, for both users and marketers, with additional analytics tools being introduced in the future.
All of this also means that now is the perfect time to do voice search optimization. Doing so would put you way ahead of the competition, and if you do it right, it would immediately start bringing in more business.