Hey Alexa... is my blog optimized for voice search? While you probably didn't find this blog article by asking your automated assistant that question - whether it be Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant - we bet that you have some sort of automated BFF in your life. And you’re not alone.
Actually, 1 in 5 US adults have access to some form of a smart speaker. The truth is that people want answers to their questions, and solutions to their problems, faster than ever and automated assistants are delivering.
They can read you the news, play your favorite music, and cue you in on the weather forecast, but people aren’t just using these for simple tasks - they are using them for search.
Gone are the days of scrolling through dozens of Google pages - this automated technology scans the internet to provide you with the BEST result in a shorter period of time.
While convenient for our personal lives, putting the power of link clicking in the hands of a virtual assistant changes things for your company.
A New Era for User and Search Engine
Let's not overcomplicate it, the times are a changin'. As the internet user has become more complex, so have the search engines. In the age of mobilization, it comes as no surprise that approximately 20% of all mobile searches are now voice searches - and according to comScore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Your marketing and keyword strategy should be shifting to encompass these search engine changes.
The reality is people use voice and desktop searches in different ways. In a desktop search, you preform your own refinement process. You typically start with a broad question and begin to narrow down your results through link clicking and a few more search variations.
With voice search, refinement comes through a series of follow up questions. A voice assistant helps you find the right result via conversation. In the end, it provides the user with a single result - meaning the element of choice is no longer with the user.
So how can your business still rank in a screen-less future? It's not as complicated as it seems.
A Brief History of SEO
Before we dive into how you can be found with a virtual assistant, we first have to take a brief look at how keywords and internet searching has changed over the years.
It used to be simple (or at least seems that way). You want to rank on the first page for “Best Pizza in Chicago?” Then stuff every piece of content on your website with the words “best pizza” and “Chicago.”
Things have changed. Services like Google started penalizing businesses for keyword stuffing, like the example mentioned above. With voice search, keyword stuffing and traditional practices (like placing exact keyword phrases in your blog title) aren't as important. According to Backlinko, Google’s voice search algorithm seems to have de-emphasized the importance of a page’s title (at least compared to desktop search, where it still plays a role).
This doesn’t mean that keywords are rendered useless. Instead, when you are crafting your next blog post, you need to focus on search intent.
Search intent is the ultimate goal of the person using the search engine. This should be your guiding principle when writing content.
Rather than attempting to repetitively fit exact keyword phrases into a blog a certain amount of times, you should be writing content that aims to answer your reader’s question in totality.
With features like voice search, users are no longer searching “best pizza Chicago.” More frequently, the internet search bar gets filled with phrases like, “I’m hungry, where can I get food nearby?” Google and other internet providers recognized that, and as the internet user grew in complexity, so did the internet search algorithm.
To rank in SEO, you have to be strategic when it comes to keyword usage. Want to be known for best pizza in the Chicago area? With your ideal client in mind, think through their symptoms, problems, and solutions - then build a keyword strategy around your findings. Utilizing a variation of keyword phrases like deep dish, Chicago-area pizza, family pizza restaurant and pizza joint may help your overall rank.
What does that have to do with voice search? This is just another progression in keyword strategy. When developing your keyword strategy, you can no longer solely think about the way someone would type a keyword phrase, you have to think how they would speak it.
And while this is where things are right now, this technology is fairly new. We can expect to see more changes and advances in the coming years.
A Few Facts About Voice Search
From our friends at Backlinko.
- Voice searches are 30x more likely to be action queries - command based.
- Voice searches are 76.1% longer than text-based searches.
- The average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds.
- The industries most effected by voice search are local services and food based industries.
- All voice search assistants utilize a slightly different algorithm and ranking process. Just like traditional search engines, each platform does something different.
- As of January 2018, there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month, per Alpine.AI.
5 Ways to Optimize Your Blog for Voice Search in 2019
Now, for the actionable takeaways. While redoing your entire website and every piece of content may not be in the cards for your business, here are a few tips to incorporate into your blog strategy going forward.
1. Authority matters
The average Domain Rating of a voice search result is 76.8. Therefore, Google’s Voice Search Algorithm may emphasize trusted, authoritative domains.
- Link to other reputable sources and create content that other people will want to link to.
- Create "complete content" (content that Google considers thorough and comprehensive).
2. Speak the people’s language
The average Google voice search result is written at a 9th grade level.
- Keep your language simple and conversational.
- Directly answer their questions in the copy of your blog.
3. Encourage social engagement and sharing
Content with high levels of social engagement tends to perform well in voice search. In fact, the average voice search result has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets.
- Use "click to tweet" to create an easy call to action.
- Make sure you include social share buttons at the bottom.
- Ask them to like and share! It's really that simple.
4. Write MORE
The average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words. Therefore, Google tends to source voice search answers from long form content.
- Longer content means more opportunities for the text on your page to “match” a voice search query.
- FAQ pages tend to perform particularly well in voice search.
- Write content in a natural, conversational voice that answers the questions your consumers are asking.
**Website content in the era of voice search isn’t about keywords, it’s about semantic search and building the context related to answering a question.**
5. Fight for rank
You should be fighting for a high ranking and possibly even a featured snippet. In fact, approximately 75% of voice search results rank in the top 3 for that query, while 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a featured snippet.
- Content that ranks highly in desktop search is also very likely to appear as a voice search answer. In other words, the higher a page ranks for a specific keyword, the more likely Google will choose that page as the voice search result.
In a world where utilizing voice search has become as common place as having a morning cup of coffee, it's important that your strategy continues to evolve to keep up with the times.
Make sure that you are utilizing the tips above to optimize every piece your content for voice search!
If you are looking for even more information about how the marketing landscape is changing, it's as simple as saying "Okay Google, take me to Little Bird Marketing's blog." Give it a try! We promise not too many people will look at you funny for talking to robots. It's 2019 after all. 🤖 *beep-boop*
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