Next for Voice Search and SEO
Businesses have spent decades learning to optimize for search engine traffic, but now they have to start thinking on a new level as voice searches rise in popularity. Voice assistants from Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and other service providers are being used to answer questions, and they don’t always work the same way as search engines. So, what are the latest trends in voice search, and how can SEO professionals keep up?
Adoption of voice search
In August 2019, 41% of adults used voice search at least once a day. Voice assistants are used to getting directions, ask quick questions, learn about the weather and other preset tasks, but general search engine queries are also asked. Per a PwC survey, 57% of people in the US reported asking a voice search for something they would normally type into a search engine at least monthly, and 32% said they did so daily. Interestingly, 74% said they were uncomfortable using the search in public and used it most often at home.
In 2021, voice search continued to rise, though Apple and Google’s voice assistants on smartphones and Amazon and Google’s smart home devices. As a mobile search, in general, has crossed 60% of total searches, and voice search is enabled on virtually every mobile device, there’s reason to believe that voice search will be a major factor in overall search volume.
How does voice search change results?
1. Voice searches use natural language
People are more comfortable phrasing searches as natural language when speaking. Search engines have gotten very good at picking out the keywords from natural speech such as questions, but there are still some impacts from voice searches mainly using natural language. Natural language searches have more room for variation. Questions like “Where should I shop for shoes?” and “Where are the best shoe stores?” may be interpreted as the same general query, but there can be differences.
2. Voice searches take from the top results
There is no use being 9th or 10th in the search rank, which was already an issue. Now it is even more crucial to be at the very top of search results. However, if top search results don’t fit into voice search requirements, others have a chance to gain on them.
3. Local and shopping usage
The usage of voice searches trend toward commerce-related results. 58% of US customers have searched for a local business by voice, and 74% of those who did so searched at least once a week. Local businesses are prime beneficiaries of voice search. Customers can also perform eCommerce searches by voice to find a common product, though they may prefer a screen to get a better look at what they are buying. Local businesses should ensure their hours of operation and location are visible online so customers can visit after getting directions by voice.
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How to implement voice-friendly SEO?
What can websites do to make their pages get chosen by voice searches? First, they can optimize their technical SEO. This includes meta titles and descriptions that give search engines a clearer idea of what’s on the page, but schema markup is also incredibly important. Schema markup gives search engines information about the content, which is vital for the question/answer format of voice searches. There is even a Question and Answer schema type; tagging Frequently Asked Questions or similar pages with them will make it likely that voice searches that match the question will read the answer aloud. Schema is used for featured snippets as well, and 40% of voice searches use these snippets.
Second, they need to optimize their keywords and content. You can expect keywords to be longer phrases due to the more lengthy questions being asked by voice. Finding a very specific but clear keyword ranking checker is a way to stand out. In terms of page content, data seems to show that voice searches don’t draw from short pages that are designated purely to answer a single question. Instead, they draw from long-form, in-depth articles, so longer content can be a better way to reach voice searchers.
Voice search may not replace text searches in all ways, but it’s increasingly common, and unlike many tech trends where older generations are slow to adopt it, voice search has appeal to older people, and in fact, 18-49 year olds were found by PwC to be heavier users than younger individuals. Businesses can be sure that voice will only become more relevant, and now is the time to optimize.