Whether or not you agree with the prediction, and there is some debate around that, the message behind it is undeniable. Voice search is becoming more and more important. You don’t have to look too far to see it in action, voice assistants are ubiquitous. Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google’s offerings such as Google Home are hugely popular. We’ve got another stat for you, but this one isn’t a prediction. In the month of January 2018 alone, there were 1 billion voice searches. That’s a staggering amount of traffic in just one month, and a sign, surely, that voice search should be impacting the content we post online and even the websites we design and produce.
The battle to rank at the top of search engine listings, or SEO as the industry calls it, has always been fiercely competitive. But voice search is here to disrupt that. It presents opportunities for those who optimise their content accordingly and potential pitfalls for those who disregard it. Let’s have a look at how you can adjust the content you create and even your website design for voice search. After all, we’re only one year away from 2020…
Make Information Easy to Find
We will assume, for the basis of this blog, that the vast majority of voice searches are either completed on a smartphone or without a screen at all. Hopefully, that isn’t too much of a neural jump. With that in mind, it makes sense to make crucial information as simple to find as possible. For smartphone and voice searches the information they’re often after is contact details. So, don’t make them dig around for your phone number, put it near the top of the page.
Think about the other information that a voice searcher might be after quickly. If you’re a bricks-and-mortar shop or restaurant then opening hours would be a good option, or if you’re an ecommerce site then info on your latest sale or how much shipping will cost would be useful.
If you can’t figure out why this might be useful then let’s try and put ourselves into the shoes of the voice searcher. If they’ve chosen to use voice search over traditional methods, then it’s probably a fair assumption that they don’t want to have to click and scroll through your website just to find a phone number.
Don’t Forget Your Roots
Making sure your content has a localised feel is especially pertinent when trying to appeal to voice searches. Figures from Bright Local suggest that 46% of voice users searched for a local business every day. For a local business, those are potential customers you could be appealing to and getting through your door every single day. Local voice searches will tend to revolve around either “in Basingstoke” or “near me”. i.e. the search query might be “Web designers in Basingstoke” or “web designers near me”. Search engines will automatically determine your location when “near me” is used, but you can do plenty to help them identify your business as one of value to that particular town or area.
Firstly, make sure your site is optimised from a local SEO perspective. This means ensuring town, city or even county names in your content and metadata for each page. Let Google (and others!) know where you are. You can even go as far as creating location-specific pages, blogs or content if that’s appropriate for your business. Do everything you can to rank for that location, because local voice searches have a huge buying potential.
Something to Bear in Mind
Before you all go rushing off to optimise your content and mobile sites for voice searchers, there’s something else we need to talk about. It can be very tempting when talking about optimising for search engines and SEO in general to disregard almost every other engine that isn’t Google. This would be a very dangerous game when working with voice search though. Whilst Google’s own devices and Apple’s Siri both use Google as their default search engine, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana (two major players) use Bing. And, in fact, Siri uses Bing for image searches still.
It goes further. When considering local searches especially, Siri uses Apple Maps while Cortana and Alexa use Bing Places for business and Bing Maps. You need to think about more than just Google My Business and Google Maps. So, make sure your Bing Places listing is up-to-date and correct, as well as your listing on Apple Maps. You could even take a look at Bing’s own SEO tools to check everything is set up correctly. If you wanted to be extra thorough you could use schema.org markup, but that is a topic we will get into another time!
Whilst this is absolutely something you should factor in, it shouldn’t be ushering in a sense of panic. Although not all devices use Google by default, the other search engines and map functions will pick up on a lot of the same things that Google does.
Time to Optimise
We think it’s fairly unlikely that next year (2020) 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice. But voice search is certainly here to stay and will become more and more significant. Ignore it at your peril. Alternatively, make some small adjustments to the content you create for your website and capitalise on a significant new source of traffic. Voice search is particularly exciting for local business – it just makes sense to use digital assistants in that way! So, go and make sure your local SEO is up to scratch. You don’t want to miss out on those customers.