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The voice search trend & SEO

Voice technology is on the rise. According to Google, 27% of the global online population is already using voice search on mobile, and the global voice commerce is expected to be worth $40B by 2022. Or in other words – this rising technology may be the key for successful brands in the future. 

In digital marketing, working to take advantage of new SEO trends is a must. The voice search trend is shifting the scenario for online businesses online. Tapping into this fairly new market can be wildly beneficial for your business.Why not start optimizing for it today?

Now you might be wondering “what exactly is voice search?” 

That is a fair question, and we’ll get more into that in a second. But here’s a taste: voice-only searches allow users to get results by speaking into a device as opposed to typing keywords into a search bar. As you might have guessed, this change in user behaviour calls for adaptations in messaging and website structure. 

via GIPHY

In this article we’ll tell you all about voice search, covering its impact on SEO and how people navigate the internet and most importantly, how you can capitalize on it!

The rise of voice search

While voice search seems like a brand-new concept, the technology behind it has been around for ~10 years. 

Programs such as speech-to-text and voice dialing are great examples of its early iterations. Popular programs such as Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa all utilize this technology as well.

Voice recognition technology has greatly improved since its inception.As of 2017, Google claims it has achieved a 95% accuracy rate. Voice is also increasingly present in people’s everyday lives in the form of smart home devices i.e. smart TVs, smart thermostat, home kit, and so on. At the moment search does not apply to most of these products, but it is increasingly popular among smartphones and smart speakers. 

Currently 31% of smartphone users worldwide make use of voice tech at least once a week. As data shows, people are getting more and more used to the convenience and efficiency of voice-based searches. 

The million dollar question is “how can my business website benefit from this trend?” 

The effects of voice search on SEO

The basis of voice tech’s transformative nature is that it improves user experience (UX) greatly. And, guess who else places high importance on providing its users awesome UX? Search engines! It should come as no surprise that SEO is placing more and more emphasis on voice search optimization.

After all, the whole point of SEO is to align your website with the search engine’s ranking factors in order to place higher on the SERP for relevant search queries. The search engines have the ultimate goal of displaying the best possible information for each query in the best way possible. Or in other words, improving user experience is the very soul of search engine optimization!

That being said, it is important to mention that voice search SEO and traditional website SEO are not necessarily the same. 

Some factors that affect traditional website ranking may or may not have the same effect on voice search – and vice versa. The secret is to balance both strategies so you can rank for both SERP and voice search results 😉

Which brings us to the question: “what is the difference between voice queries and written queries?”. After all, in order to successfully optimize for voice search, the first step is to understand some of its structural peculiarities. In a nutshell, voice-based queries usually count on conversational/natural language. Along with that, spoken language is usually not as concise as written words – which also means longer queries. 

It is also worth mentioning that voice-based searches often include question words such as who, which, when, where and how. According to Backlinko’s recent study on voice search SEO, Google prefers short and concise answers for voice searches – typically 29 words in average. 

How to adapt to voice search?

Wanna know what actions you can take to set your website up for voice search SEO? Here’s the know-how!

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1. Make sure your website’s loading speed is on point

Just like in traditional SEO, your website’s loading speed is a big deal for Google voice search. Therefore it is important to guarantee that the following are always *on point* :

  • High-speed loading
  • Optimized images
  • Compressed files
  • Website Responsiveness

In case you are unsure of your site’s current loading speed, try checking out Google’s PageSpeed Insights for your loading score combined with insights on how to improve.

2. Write in natural language

As previously mentioned, written and voice-based queries have a couple of their own particularities. 

One example of this can be observed for instance in a search for an SEO agency. While the user would probably type a query in the general lines of “top seo agencies” when performing a search on a desktop, a voice-based search would most likely follow the lines of “who are the top seo agencies in Germany?” See the difference?

In order to make sure your content is properly optimized for both kinds of queries, make sure to include long-tail keywords that sound more “natural” as opposed to the shorter more “to-the-point” keywords which usually perform well for desktop SEO. 

On that note, here’s another tip: try to keep it simple. Voice search results are typically written at a 9th grade level. So try focusing on shorter sentences and overall easy-to-read formats. However, this does not mean you should necessarily stick to short-form content. It is still true that long-form content tends to perform better for both traditional and voice search SEO.

In other words – shorter sentences: Yes. Superficial content: No.

3. Make use of structured data

Implement structured data on your website’s code in order to be featured on snippets. This can be wildly beneficial for your visibility both on the desktop SERP and voice-based results. By doing so, you’ll be using a language the search engine understands and help it deliver your information in a more dynamic way to users. Want to know how? Check out our full article on structured data.

4. Keep doing what you’re doing

Many traditional SEO actions are also known to be beneficial for voice search SEO. The first is a good domain authority score. This one will improve your ranking as well. Wanna give this metric a boost? Try focusing on high-quality links! 

Secondly, according to Backlinko’s study on voice search SEO, content with high levels of social engagement tend to perform better in voice search. In fact, the average voice search result has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets. Or in other words – make sure to encourage social engagement with your content whenever possible.

Last but not least – desktop ranking! Approximately 75% of voice search results rank in the top 3 on the SERP. This means that traditional SEO in itself qualifies as a helping factor for voice search ranking. So – keep doing what you’re doing 😉

Aka Domain Authority, encouraging social engagement with your content, content that ranks highly in desktop search is also likely to appear as a voice search answer.

Conclusion

The impact of voice tech on SEO is certain. Investing in voice search optimization will improve your brand awareness, online purchases and revenue. Its popularity and professional use are on the rise – which means what better moment to get on board than now? 

By optimizing today, you’ll likely be ahead of the competition. Ensuring strong voice search rankings will play an important role for growing your brand long-term. Stay ahead of the change – and reap the benefits in years to come!

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