Voice search is tipped as one of the top SEO trends for 2018. A recent study found that people are becoming more comfortable with using the feature in public, signally a shift in how it’s generally perceived. No longer just a gadget for the tech-savvy, voice commands are now being embraced by the wider population. And this presents a huge opportunity for businesses to take advantage of.
Interestingly, the same study also found that respondents found other people’s use of voice search irritating. Approximately 45% of those surveyed said they ‘feel annoyed when hearing someone else use voice commands in a public setting’. It seems that a growing number of people are now using the feature in restaurants, the gym, and on public transport. It’s become just as popular as using search engine apps and overtaken the likes of built-in search windows that are common to most phones.
It’s not just younger generations who love to perform voice searches either. In previous years it was the 18-24 age group who were the most frequent users. But this year the 25-34 age group dominated most of the usage charts, with the 35-44 group showing the highest usage in the home and office. In every usage situation, males were more likely to use it than females.
Ease-of-use appears to be at the heart of its increasing popularity. Over 60% of the survey’s respondents said that they like using voice commands because they are quick and don’t require typing, with over 66% agreeing that they make smartphone use easier. With more demands on our time and Millennial trends toward convenience, voice usage looks set to take off in a big way.
There’s also increasing evidence that voice search optimization can influence ‘position zero’ in SERPS. It appears to be connected with Google’s featured snippets which occupy the coveted top spot and garner the highest proportion of click-throughs. Combining these factors with the growth in usage, it’s clear that voice is becoming an increasingly important influence. So if you don’t already have a strategy for optimizing for voice searches, then it’s probably time to get one…
Tapping into the Rise of Voice Search
Amazon Alexa and Google Home have been leading the charge of smart-home devices. It is estimated that 24.5 million devices were shipped last year, an increase of 312% from 2016.
Their speech accuracy has improved dramatically and is almost on par with humans. They can now perform a variety of everyday tasks, beyond simply forecasting the weather and providing traffic updates. Their abilities range from ordering a Starbucks or calling an Uber, to reading you ebooks and tracking your Amazon packages.
As usage and application of voice searches increase, there are several things that businesses should do to prepare. These will be a high priority for anyone wanting to tap into this rapidly developing channel. Here are some practical actions that you can take immediately…
#1 – Create content that addresses user questions
A solid content strategy will address the needs of your target audience. It will be created with their FAQs in mind and solve their pain points. The same principle applies to optimizing for voice search. By creating content that directly answers questions, you’ll be more likely to become the top resource that appears in voice searches.
#2 – Optimize for Mobile
Optimizing for mobile will be essential in 2018. As mobile page speed becomes a ranking factor, it is an increasingly important building block in SEO. But it will also be important to rank for voice search results, so there’s a dual-benefit to the effort involved.
#3 – Push for Featured Snippets
There’s no step-by-step process to guarantee a featured snippet, but there are things you can do to increase your chances. Identifying common queries, including them in a header or title tag, and then placing an answer paragraph directly underneath are the fundamentals. For a more detailed explanation, check out this useful Moz guide on how to rank for featured snippets.
#4 – Use Schema Mark Up
Schema mark up is a form of microdata that creates an enhanced description of your web page. It tells search engines exactly what your site is about so that it’s more likely to rank for the keywords that matter. Schema can add context to an ambiguous page which is especially vital for voice queries since they can often be interpreted with different intent.
The good news is that many of the same optimization principles apply for desktop, mobile, and voice. By developing a combined strategy, you can target all three platforms with one approach. The key is to identify what your audience is looking for, then make it clear to Google that you’ve got the best answer.
Voice Search Optimization
Do you have questions about optimizing your site for voice search? Our SEO and web development team are specialists in this area and always stay ahead of changing online technologies. They can advise you on the best approach for your website, whether you’re a small business or large enterprise. Fill out the form below to learn more about our SEO services.
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