The Evolution of Voice SEO

Another trend to watch out for this year! That’s right, voice search has become the fastest growing means of search within the last few years and 2017 is the time to see the rapid surge. How many times do you Google search a day? You probably lose track because it’s second nature to so many of us now. 


It’s the same way for voice search, as more and more people pick up their devices (time to get those vocal chords warmed up) and ask for details vocally. The list of voice search queries could be anything from, where a good nearby restaurant is located, to booking tickets for a flight to the other side of the world. Voice search is improving consumer lives through the ease of accessibility, hands-free and fast - and you can multi-task - “50% of teens and 21% of adults use voice search every day, proving it a good fit for today’s on-the-go lifestyle.”


Yet, through the increase of voice search users, marketers and SEO (search engine optimisation) specialists must also advance their skills to how companies and webpages are found and matched in the response to voice search. With the progression of voice search, SEO is quickly developing from the emphasis of optimising short keywords to long-tail keywords and full phrases, in an effort to answer longer queries within voice search. 


Here are some ‘need to knows’ to keep you in the loop with the expansion of voice search and voice SEO over the coming year.

Search is different and search is smarter


Voice query differs to written search and it is essential to recognise this in the progression of consumers finding exactly what they are looking for. Written search typically falls to the understanding of short phrase and keyword searching, whereas voice search needs to react to answer long phrase questions. 


For example ‘time difference San Francisco to England’ compared to ‘what is the time difference between San Francisco and England?’ These both ask for the same answer, yet one is more conversational than the other. It would then be possible to ask follow-up questions, such as ‘What is the weather like in San Francisco?’ ‘What are the best tourist hotspots in San Francisco?’ Search is now smarter as it is able to recognise words such as ‘what’ and ‘like’ (the sort of words everyone needs to have in their content) which are conversational, yet need to be integrated into the search process.


AI (artificial intelligence) technology, such as Google Assist/Ok Google, Siri, Cortana and others, are pieces of tech we use for search on a daily basis, and these are developing to understand the intent of the user. “Google’s AI has been reading nearly 3,000 romance novels in order to improve its conversational search abilities.” The search goes beyond the initial voice question and the question context, to consider past searches, as well as analysing user data e.g. location.


More complex responses from voice search are now possible, due to the improvement of speech recognition alongside the enhancement of technology and therefore voice search can provide more in-depth and specific results. It is important to note that, “Speech recognition error has reduced from 25% to 8%” which is improving further all the time. 

Consequently, as technology and voice search grow, more emphasis is placed on the digital assistants to be as responsive and accurate as possible to engage with users. As voice search assistants become further advanced in their functions, more and more people will turn to voice search. It is essential to focus on the market for voice SEO before it becomes saturated and there’s no time like the present to start. 


The task of SEO in voice search


As voice search grows and becomes more popular with users, SEO specialists also need to adapt and expand their skills. Although implementing keywords remains an essential process for SERPs (search engine result pages), long-tail keywords and full key phrases will aim to attract consumers and develop ways to focus on the users real meaning within their search. In turn, this gives a better understanding to marketers of the consumer, and companies can target this by influencing SEO to pinpoint exactly what the user has queried, therefore guiding consumers to their business. 


The three characteristics of voice search: 1) not alike to the typed phrases entered into Google’s search, 2) typically composed as a whole sentence, phrasing exactly what the user wants to know, 3) of a conversational tone. 


Additionally, this means that companies need to ensure that their websites and content is more detailed and convoluted, in readiness to answer user questions through voice search. This means that it is vital for marketers to apply an innovative voice search strategy and incorporate this into the company website to coincide with the future of voice SEO, such as response to conversational tone. 2017 is the time to think beyond written questions, as we witness voice possibly emerging as one of the biggest changes within the search industry, “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.”


Type search and voice search differ in user type and it is critical for marketers and SEO to understand this. A type search user is likely to scroll through a few pages, look at varying feedback and be happy to scroll through results pages to do a little research themselves. However, the voice search user is typically looking for instant results, as well as answers to further questions which link to the original query. The better the SEO strategy and analysis of search, the better the user experience, search intent and aligned results. 

Although voice search currently exists, it is time to amplify the world in which SEO is conducting performance for voice search. It is critical for content to be the best it can be, as well as relevant to focus on precise user queries. Implementing the right SEO and marketing strategies for voice search now, will see the industry swiftly shape up over the coming year. 

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