Posted on 24 Apr 2018 | Filed under
It is estimated by 2020 that 50 per cent of all Google searches will be by voice according to comScore - a measurement site of audiences, advertising and consumer behaviour. There are significant differences between ‘voice search behaviour’ and ‘typed search behaviour’ which affect how a site owner optimises a web page.
As professional marketers, we need to think about how we incorporate this new wave of searchers into our SEO strategy and be aware of how the mode of search changes search behaviour, because users understand which voice searches work best on which device – i.e. virtual assistant vs desktop vs mobile!
Voice searching is different
When we type, we are brief and we focus on keywords. When we speak, we are more conversational, using questions which are naturally more ‘long-tail’.
For example, if you were typing a search you might type ‘Theresa May age’ whereas if you were using your voice you might be more likely to say “How old is Theresa May?”
Voice searches differ to typed searches, insomuch as they tend to have more context around them too. Google has also told us that voice searches, specifically, are 30 times more likely than typed searches to be ‘action-based’ queries.
Mobile and ‘Near-Me’ Searches
Around 88% of all ‘near-me’ voice searches are carried out on mobile.
Voice searchers looking for facilities nearby, demand instant, accurate, and helpful information on Google.
For example, voice searchers ask their phones where the nearest pizza restaurant is, solving an immediate issue there and then, rather than doing a wider informational search, such as “What is the population of Great Britain?”
How do I optimise for Voice Search?
Google was first launched in 1998 three years after Yahoo. During that time, users have learned how to enter what they are looking for by entering a brief keyword using a PC. Voice Search, however, works in a more conversational way and is typically used on mobile and often is locally focused so it is important if businesses, if they have not done so already, claim their Google MyBusiness listing. This is a great way for Google to find out more information about your business including what it does, the address, phone number and more.
Whereas SEO campaigns are typically focused on 'short tail' keywords which are typically one or two words in length, to optimise your site for Voice Search, we have to look at what is now being called 'long tail+' phrases - as opposed to 'long tail' which is at least three keywords or a phrase used to narrow down search results - which are more conversational. It means a new keyword strategy needs to be put in place which mimic how real people talk.
It is worth starting to think about the types of questions you get asked by your customers, what are your competitors saying, and start creating content that focuses on these more longer, more conversational, phrases. Putting this type of data into a Frequently Asked Questions page is a great way to focus on these 'long tail+' conversational phrases, although creating specific pages for this content is likely to be more effective even if it requires more time and effort.
Using structured data mark-up from schema.org to give Voice Search devices even more information about your site and content is also recommended. By applying the correct schemas it defines more specific information and makes it easier for search engines, such as Google, to understand its context.
Who is using Voice Search most?
Some research carried out by a consultancy in USA revealed that people are becoming more comfortable using Voice Search in public and whilst the 35-to-44 age group is the largest segment using Voice Search, the 25-35-year-old age group is the most likely to feel comfortable. The heaviest users of Voice Search had an average annual income of around £350,000.
New Voice-Based Media and Advertising
There is no data from Google at the moment on how many Voice Search queries are happening in Google Home and Google Assistant so we do not know how big the opportunity is or how fast it is growing.
However, there is already an opportunity to promote your services with Actions on Google. This allows businesses to build apps which interact with and reach users through 400 million plus devices including smart speakers, phones, cars, TVs, headphones, and more.
Actions on Google suggests companies can build apps which can create conversations in multiple languages, sell products or services or even create family apps with games and fun may even appear in a ‘kids & family’ category.
What do we do next?
Fundamentally, Voice Search is still in its infancy and as it develops and we have more than just survey data from Google, it will be easier to sell it in as a business case to the senior management team i.e. Once we can say ‘there are X number of branded searches with no results’, we can identify and capitalise on this specific area with confidence.
For now, we can start to make best guess judgments and prepare ourselves, ahead of the hard facts coming through in the analytics.