Voice SEO. Are you ready for voice search?

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Image of Cortana - personal assistant

‘Voice search’ has been with us for more than half a decade. Despite this, most of us continue to type our chosen keywords into search browsers to find the content we want. However, the statistics suggest that people are finally warming to the idea of using voice technology…

Anyone who watched British TV over the Christmas break will have been bombarded with Christmas adverts promoting voice driven technology for the home. The tech giants like Amazon and Google are all pushing their personal assistant platforms which promise to perform tasks like checking the weather forecast. Voice remote controls for television sets are already available.

Even though at times the results from ‘personal assistant’ searches can be disappointing, it’s difficult to dispute the fact that voice search is already changing the way many of us live our lives. But what does this mean for internet search?

The Early Adopters

Voice search has been with us for many years already. Adoption has been a gradual progression since the likes of Siri and Google brought voice technology to our smartphones – but things are now finally starting to take off.

Google says 20% of mobile queries are voice searches while ComScore believes at least 50% of all searches will be voice orientated by 2020. These are staggering statistics! And even if they are only 50% accurate, it’s clear that in years to come, our search for information will not be via a keyboard.

By that time, platforms like Google Assistant, Amazon Echo, Microsoft’s Cortana and the other personal assistant apps will be a daily part of our lives. We’re now entering a new period where voice search could become our first choice when trying to satisfy our desire for up to date information.

Voice Search Marketing

Put simply, voice search is going to change search marketing as we know it. The big question is how?

The answer seems to lie in which words we use to search for information online. When typing queries we tend to use the fewest possible words with the most relevant words first. For example, “best hotels london”. However, when people use voice search, they tend to speak in a much more conversation way. Using the above example, we might say “what are the best hotels in central London?”

The realisation for many forward looking organisations is that their website optimisation will need to change markedly in the coming years to cater for this change. Longer tail search strings will become much more prevalent. In addition, companies will have to think carefully about the ‘context’ of someone’s search query and the ‘intent’ behind it.

Furthermore, the searches of the future will be interactive and not just a simple ‘search and click’ as we have now. The goal will not be single queries but a new kind of conversational search experience. Google’s RankBrain is already focused on remembering previous searches and interpreting the context of future ones. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be able to understand what, secondary questions after the first query/command.

Voice SEO

Example:

  • Human: “Where is the Savoy Hotel?”
  • Google: “It’s in London.”
  • Human: “Show me on a map.”
  • Google: Google shows position on Google maps.

Voice Platforms

For many years now, Google has controlled the online search area. But with the advent of voice search technology, this is set to change. Very soon there will be many more interfaces to the web. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and a bunch of other giants are each building their own brand new voice based gateways.

The days of optimising just for Google only are coming to an end. Google will also have fresh competition on the paid marketing scene too as its new voice driven rivals incorporate adverts into their personal assistant platforms. It will be interesting to see how Google will respond!

Multi-platform marketing

In essence there, voice search is going to make online marketing quite a bit more complicated! Instead of just optimising for Google, it’ll be a case of optimising for Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook et al. It’s going to take some time as well, because there aren’t any proven marketing strategies for optimising content for the likes of Microsoft Cortana!

Language = Intent

Understanding a person’s language will become much more important in the years to come. If someone asks, “Which tour operators offer ski holidays to Austria?” they are probably just conducting research for their next ski holiday. Conversely, if they ask, “How much are flights to Salzburg in January?” they are much closer to taking action.

Consequently, marketers are going to have to become familiar with the term ‘degree of interest’ when it comes to voice SEO. But with limited data available, it’s difficult to prepare. When Google ‘hinted’ last year that voice search data could make its way into Google Search Console data, the SEO world became very interested. However, nothing further has been announced unfortunately.

Search Anywhere!

At the moment, we need a mobile phone, tablet or PC to search the internet. However, with voice search which will see ‘personal assistant’ style devices placed throughout our home, people will be able to search for information from anywhere: kitchens, bathroom and even the car!

To facilitate truly mobile search, devices of the future won’t have a keyboard as we do today. Devices of the future won’t have touchscreens or displays in the way we’re used to now. The future will be hands-free, voice-activated and truly mobile!

Get ready now!

Voice search is going to change the nature of online marketing. Savvy organisations will start planning for Voice SEO now in an attempt to get ahead of their competition.

So don’t delay! Start building up a picture of what your target audiences might be doing when voice technology starts to surround them. Start building your own data now and keep an eye on what the tech giants are doing. Remember that your voice optimised content will need to be discoverable to their constantly evolving platforms.

If you want to get your organisation ready for the impending change, contact Onvigil today. We’re one of the UK’s leading SEO consultancies and we’re here to help. We look forward to talking with you soon.

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