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How Could Voice Search Change the Way We’re Found Online?
  • By Jordan Thornhill

    Copywriter

“Alexa, order a new spatula.” “Siri, what time is it in Brazil?” “Bixby, when does the new season of Game of Thrones air?” Voice commands and questions are now commonplace in homes around the world, and this could have a huge impact on the way that sites are ranked. According to General Voice Statistics, more than 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Whether they’re asking a question that you can answer or are enquiring about a household problem, your website can still be the first that they see. Check out this blog to see what we suggest to customers looking to get ahead in the SEO game.

How Does It Work?

Performing a voice search is simple and easy. The Google app for Apple and Android has it built in, and this allows you to speak rather than type. Simply click the microphone icon and say what you want to search for. Typically, people ask questions, rather than making statements. Some of the most popular voice searches on Amazon’s Alexa include:

  • “Play Music”
  • “Turn on the Radio”
  • “How Do I Boil an Egg?”
  • “What’s the Traffic Like?”
  • “Alexa, Buy [INSERT PRODUCT]”

As you can see, most of the top searches are questions. When using voice search, this is the norm, as it feels more conversational. Typing short phrases into your phone is easy, and you’re likely to just search for the bare minimum e.g. “petrol Colchester”. However, when it comes to searching with your voice, you’ll ask Google: “Where can I get petrol in Colchester”. Being the answer to these questions is the best way to stay relevant and rank highly.

How Have Search Engines Developed?

As mentioned previously, voice search is changing the way that we search for things. We’re speaking more conversationally, and this means that most search engines need to act quickly to keep up. However, due to the Hummingbird Update of 2013, Google is already way ahead of the curve.

This update transformed the way that Google processed searches, as they moved from favouring keyword-focused terms to semantic phrases. This semantic search takes into account the real language that people use, and then matches this up with content online. Using complex algorithms, Google understands the intent and context of what you’re searching and then displays relevant search results or knowledge graphs.

For voice search, this understanding of context and intent is vital. If Google didn’t know to match up “how to make cookies” with a recipe for cookies, then the search wouldn’t take you where you needed to go. Because it does, you can be sure that customers will come across your website when using semantic search.

What Changes Can You Make?

To keep up with voice search, you need to make sure that you’re writing content that reflects what people are saying. As mentioned above, semantic search is the new normal when it comes to searches online, and your content needs to be written in a conversational style that real customers would use.

For example, if people need a plumber to repair their toilet, and they’re using voice search, they’d typically say: “Find an emergency plumber in Salisbury.” Now, as we know, Google knows the intent and context of this search and will point customers to a plumbing site which reflects their needs. To be found for this search, you need to use a mixture of short- and long-tail keywords, as well as phrases that match up with the term. Some of the following would help:

  • “Emergency Plumber”
  • “Get in Touch with Our Emergency Plumber in Salisbury on…”
  • “Our Emergency Plumbers Have the Skills to Take Care of Your Problem in Salisbury”

According to statistics that we found online, people typically use voice search for things in the local area, including directions, film times, and more. This further underlines the importance of linking your business to a Google My Business page. As well as this being a great place to have your information in one place, it also helps you to show up in local search by customers. If customers are looking for the closest bakery to their home, and you’re just around the corner, you need to be visible, and Google My Business helps you with this.

Using question phrases also helps you to be found. As we’ve discussed above, people typically ask questions when using voice searches. Adding a dedicated FAQ page or section means that whatever question a customer asks, you’re primed to answer it. Google will know that you’ve got the answers too, and this means that you’re more likely to rank highly.

It should go without saying that your website should be mobile-friendly and optimised to do well when customers are voice searching. They’re only doing it on their phones or tablets, so your site needs to look professional, attractive, and functional to keep their interest.

Voice Search Stats

These statistics show what different demographics are looking for when using voice search.

 

Teenagers Adults
Search Terms Percentage That Uses It Search Terms Percentage That Uses It
Call Someone 43% Ask for Directions 40%
Ask for Directions 38% Dictate Texts 39%
Help with Homework 31% Call Someone 31%
Play a Song 30% Check the Time 11%
Find out Movie Times 20% Play a Song 11%
Check the Time 13% Find out Movie Times 9%

Step into the Future with Voice Searching

By transforming your website to be voice search-friendly, you have the potenial to widen your appeal to audiences. Customers are starting to search more conversationally, and this is something that you need to keep up with. As well as being written with exemplary grammar, punctuation, and SEO value, it also needs to align with Google’s semantic search algorithms, introduced with the Hummingbird update. This quality, well-written content answers customer questions and is simple to pull together, assuming you’ve already got a good idea of the keywords, search terms, and information that you need.

Write content that serves customers effectively and see how your market share and engagements grow!

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