Voice search a major shakeup for SEO

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You probably already know that “SEO” stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”. It’s the process of getting your website ranked well in search engine results.

The truth about SEO is that it’s always changing. One of the significant changes that we’re experiencing now is the increasing popularity of voice search.

According to Google, 20 percent of searches on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches. The expanded use of smartphones and the arrival of digital personal assistants like Siri and Cortana has led to this growth.

Home-based assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home also use voice search, and have exploded onto the market with 10 to 12 million devices sold in the 2016 holiday season alone.

So, what is voice search?
A voice search happens when you search information by speaking to your device instead of typing. It’s like a two-way conversation which aims to help the user complete tasks from their life in real-time.

A study suggests that 61 percent of users state the primary reason they use voice search is the utility of it when their hands or vision are occupied. 36 percent said they primarily use voice commands in the car and 43 percent stated their primary use was at home.

The substantial improvements in voice recognition accuracy and ease of use over the last few years is fuelling the growth in popularity. The average person can type around 40 words per minute but can speak around 150 words per minute, allowing for easy searches with less effort.

So, what does this mean for local businesses?
Data shows that mobile voice search is three times more likely to be local-based than text search. This means voice search is rapidly becoming the way customers will find local businesses.

What can be done?
Voice search on SEO is still evolving and we do know that optimising for voice search is very different compared with traditional search. Voice-based queries are different than written searches, in that they generally are made up of longer phrases, including complete sentences and questions.

Improve your local SEO: Update your business listing on Google and Yelp, and on Trip Advisor if working in hospitality industry. Make sure the listing is complete and comprehensive with a good number of positive reviews. Local SEO is more popular than ever with voice search, with consumers more frequently using searches like, “cafes near me.” Verifying up-to-date location, business hours, contact numbers and other data that will be relevant for local searches on all your listings.

You should also have your business listing on Apple maps as more iOS device users use Apple maps than use Google maps. Apple gets its business listings from a lot of different places, so if you have a business, you’ll probably want to make sure it is listed everywhere possible.

Question phrases: Optimising FAQ page, having as many relevant queries as possible, as it both asks and answers. Data pulled from the search giant shows a 61 percent year on year increase in question phrases. These phrases include conversational words like “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and “how”. Such phrases have a higher probability to occur in natural speech, rather than in typing.

Conclusion
We’re on the rise of an enormous change in how you can get the search results you desire. Voice searches are expected to contribute at least half of all searches by 2020. The best way to prepare for the continued growth search is to use it yourself to understand how it works and what kinds of results it provides. Voice search is not just an idea for the future; it is here and getting bigger by the day. By getting on board right now will get you in a position to thrive for the foreseeable future.

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Pooja Gupta

Pooja Gupta is digital marketing manager at Duoplus. pooja@duoplus.nz | www.duoplus.nz

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