Maya was speeding to work, weaving in and out of traffic for her early morning meeting sighing as she tried to overtake yet another set of cars; she was a little apprehensive about her presentation today.
Some upbeat music might help she thought. “Ok Google, play Eye of the Tiger”. Music was a great way to get her system running; perhaps, an antidote to her harrowed mind.
With the “best route to reach Lower Parel” voice command, she found the fastest route to work and reached her office in record time despite the perennial traffic jams.
In fact, considering she was early, she also managed to “Ok Google” the nearby Starbucks and get herself a cup of coffee. She even called them in advance to keep it ready for her.
Maya’s trusted assistant was easy to talk to and delivered quick results. Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are all perfecting voice recognition technology. Voice assistants like OK Google, Siri, Cortana and Alexa are already prevalent in your house, office, car and really, everywhere you go. You carry them around in your phone after all!
Voice recognition from Google already has an accuracy of 95%. Is it any wonder then that users prefer the ease of speaking to typing?
Read also: How to get noticed by using the right SEO
Here’s what voice search is and can be in the next few years:
- Google says 20% of all searches are voice based
- Voice tech is used by 31% smartphone users at least once a week
- By 2020, 50% of all online searches will be voice based
- Approximately 20% of voice search queries are triggered by just 25 keywords
- Global voice commerce is expected to be worth $40B by 2022
The real question for you is how are you going to leverage this to reach your audience better and help your website and business? How do we make “voice-search friendly web content”?
The First: Keywords
If you run a search via a text search, you would type the bare minimum number of keywords to save physical effort. This could be probably what, two-three words?
For example: “Pet stores near me”
But, when running the same query as a voice search, one would tend to ask complete questions as if they’re in a conversation. And, they actually are in a conversation with one of the Virtual Assistants (VA) like Siri, Google, Alexa or Cortana.
Example: “Which pet store is open now?”
Voice search uses “natural language” which consists of complete sentences rather than a string of query words.
Does this mean that one should use long phrases as keywords? No. Instead, the focus should be on using the right phrases. Read more about putting this in practice under The Fourth: Featured Snippets.
Let’s understand how the keywords have evolved from text to voice with examples.
Say you are trying to rank your website in the fashion space. You may have been using one, two or three keywords similar to text searches such as:
Now, you can try using more “voice friendly” keywords like:
- Dresses for Parties
- Heeled Shoes
- Tote Bags for Work
- Accessories with a White Shirt
Remember, they will be more effective if they are conversational.
The Second: Question phrases
Approximately 1/5th of voice search queries are triggered by just 25 keywords, consisting mainly of question words like “how” or “what” and adjectives like “best” or “easy”.
While running a voice search, as we discussed earlier, it is very natural for users to use complete conversational sentences in their queries.
Let’s understand this with an example of text vs voice
Someone looking to buy a new smartphone
Text: OnePlus 6
Voice: Where can I buy OnePlus 6?
Someone looking for restaurants
Text: Chinese restaurants
Voice: Which are the best Chinese restaurants nearby?
The easiest way to translate these phrases is to have an FAQ page on your website where the possible voice search questions are addressed in basic detail.
This is of course not limited to FAQ pages; you can also create landing pages to answer commonly asked queries. To understand this more, you can find out more about the keywords specific to your website. Log in to your Google Analytics account and check out the keywords people use to find your content.
Add some relevant question keyword phrases for your industry. Let’s assume you are an apparel website, the keyword phrases you can add could be something like these:
Where can I buy the latest Adidas shoes?
Buy white shirt online
What can I pair with white shoes?
The Third: Mobile-Friendly Content
Your audience is probably going to use their phones to search. So, if you do not have mobile-friendly content and optimised pages, then all the other tips, tricks and hacks become moot. To add to this, your voice searches will also come from mobile phones. It is imperative that your content is mobile friendly. Check if your site is mobile friendly here.
To make your site mobile friendly, here are some tips:
- Use plenty of white space
- Break things down into short paragraphs
- Use subheadings, bullet points and numbered lists
- Use optimised scripts
- Be concise in your content
The Fourth: Featured Snippets
Rich snippets can help keep queries and answers in a context that is better understood by the search engines.
You may have noticed recently that if you run a search on Google, it displays rich snippets from various websites.
A voice search will also result in similar results with “near me” results as well. 99% of these snippets come from the top 10 results.
What can you do?
Use analytics to learn the keywords that users are searching for. Pay attention to ‘also searched’ questions which appear at the bottom of the SERP and then answer those in your content. Use keywords that are most used in searches which pull up featured snippets.
Bonus Tip: Translating intent from voice searches
Since natural language shows intent more strongly, you need to look for this in your analytics.
When a user searches for say “mobile phones”, are they looking to repair, look at images or buy them? You do not know the intent of the searcher. On the other hand, natural language uses a conversational tone which changes everything!
From, “What is a mobile phone?” to “Where can I find it?”, you can clearly see the change in tone from curiosity and knowledge gain to someone who is ready to buy it.
Here are some tips to incorporate intent searches:
- Identify your highest value question phrases
- Optimize for these keywords and also adjust bids for these terms
- Use actual sentences with your prepositions and articles in place
- You could also consider tailoring the ad copy and landing page more specifically towards the highest-value of common keywords from the questions asked. Using natural language with direct answers to specific questions is the key.