Voice search isn’t something new. Back in 2008 Google first included a “search by voice” feature in their iOS app.
Things have come a long way since 2008 though and now we have Siri, Cortana and Google Now.
Today these tools are incredibly powerful and can answer almost any question, follow-up questions and understand what you said with a less than 8% error rate versus 20% just a couple of years ago.
According to Google, in 2014 voice search more than doubled with 55% of the teenage population using it on a daily basis as well as 41% of adults.
By 2020 it’s projected that 50% of daily searches will be through voice searches.
It’s clear that you can’t just optimize for desktop and mobile search any more.
Understanding voice search
When people make voice searches they’re usually asking questions starting with who, what, where, when and how.
These searches are conversational rather than written and tend to be longer than written searches because people can usually talk faster than they can type.
Most voice searches are from mobile devices and many people do voice searches when they’re multitasking. Asking for directions when driving or asking questions while watching TV for example.
Different studies have shown that anywhere between 40% and 80% of voice searches are local with people asking for directions, for business information or locations of businesses in certain areas.
It’s important to understand the difference between voice and desktop searches. With voice searches the talker usually wants quick answers and results right away.
A desktop searcher on the other hand is more likely to be doing research, taking their time and gathering information.
Different searches take place in different sections of the sales process.
Quick ways you can start optimizing for voice search
The keyword phrases that come with voice search are probably different then what you’re already optimizing for.
You should definitely take a bit of time to review your SEO strategy and see how you voice search can fit in.
Start off by doing some keyword research. Check tools like the Google Keyword Planner to see what kind of questions people are asking and take a look at your website analytics as well to see what kinds of phrases are bringing people to your site.
Focus more on long tail keywords as voice searches tend to be longer and more conversational.
Make sure you’re optimized for mobile
Since most voice searches occur on mobile devices take a bit of time to make sure your website is mobile friendly.
It needs to have mobile friendly design and load fast on mobile devices. You also need to make sure you’re optimized for local search as well as people often make local searches from their mobile devices while they’re out.
Make your company information easy to find
Your company information, directions and locations need to be clear and easy to find for both humans and search engines.
This is the information most people are going to be doing voice searches for.
Consider adding a frequently asked questions (F.A.Q.) page
Since most voice searches being with question words like who, what, where, when and how consider making a F.A.Q. page on your website with questions starting with these words.
Think about how your clients will be making voice searches. What might a couple out driving on a Sunday afternoon ask Siri if they’re looking for open houses to visit?
Come up with a list of questions people might ask and then answer them conversationally.
While asking questions to a computer once seemed like science fiction it’s pretty clear that voice optimization is the future of SEO.
Start taking steps today to optimize your website for voice searches and you’ll definitely get a head start on your competition.
If you wait too long to fit voice search into your SEO strategy you’re going to find it’s a lot more work.