From Gartner to ComScore, all the past predictions about the ‘future of search’ talked about how ‘voice-first’ interactions would be the norm by the year 2020. Here we are in 2020, and as predicted the voice search adoption rate has shot through the roof. 20% of searches on Google’s mobile app are now done by voice. And voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana have entered millions of homes through smart speaker devices and smartphones, which indicates that the number is going to get even bigger in the next few years.
Needless to say, companies understand the importance of securing the top rank on search engines’ voice-triggered search results pages. As the characteristics of voice searches are different, the results should be also different, and so should the optimizing strategy.
Find ways to optimize for voice search and rank better here.
Aim For Featured Snippet
From the paragraph, table to list, the featured snippets that sit at the top of the search results page in response to queries asked by users is the most coveted spot. Google describes it as a “special feature of Google Search that receives unique formatting, positioning and is often spoken aloud by the Google Assistant.”
Since the only way, a page gets listed as featured snippets is through good content that is the closest match to a user’s search request, work on your SEO content writing strategy. Identifying top ranking keywords is a great place to start with. Next, you can identify the top-ranking search queries for each snippet type. For instance, paragraph snippets often organically answer ‘how-to, what is, why is’ types of questions. Any question related to pricing, data, rates or list would be presented as a table featured snippet.
Optimizing for voice search requires companies to be mobile-friendly. Adopting a mobile-first approach and fine-tuning content & infrastructure for mobile platforms is the biggest game-changer. Traditionally, businesses design a desktop site and later adapt it for mobile platforms. But by following a ‘mobile-first’ approach the mobile version of the site is designed first, which is then adapted to larger screens.
The companies that invested in strengthening their site’s performance on mobile/small devices benefitted after search engine giant Google started experimenting with mobile-first indexing. With Google’s mobile-first indexing that was announced in 2016, the URL of the mobile-friendly version of your site is indexed. This, in layman’s terms, means that when it comes to ranking and indexing, Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the webpage. Google decides if a website is fit enough to be indexed by evaluating the structured data, metadata, text, links, videos, and images.
However, it is important to note here that mobile indexing is not the same as mobile-friendliness and mobile-responsive layouts. The page speed (the average voice SERP loads in 4.6 seconds – 52% faster than the average page), text readability and backlinks are a few of the parameters that determine mobile-friendliness and responsiveness to voice queries. And all three – mobile-first indexing, mobile-friendliness and responsive design – work towards enhancing visibility on search results pages.
The biggest differentiator between text-triggered search and voice-triggered search is the keywords used. Voice search tends to be more conversational as people engage with voice assistants in a personal manner. The sentences are full and the query is longer. For instance, a voice search query is most likely to read as, “What are the best tactics to expand content marketing outreach”, instead of the text search version “Content marketing outreach tactics”.
And therefore, your content strategy should specifically focus on building conversational content in order to generate traffic and reach targeted customers. Producing high-quality natural content is one of the key SEO trends that you need to focus on if voice search optimization is one of your goals for 2020.
Explore Long Tail Keyword Search
To stand out on the search page, exploring the wide possibilities of long-tail keywords will work best as the search volume and competition are both low. As mentioned in the previous point, voice search demands conversational content. And long-tail keywords fit right in. They provide context about the user’s intent, are more descriptive, match the engaging tone of voice search, have better conversion rates and help to improve SERP ranking.
Experts believe that users who use long-tail keywords are deep in the buying cycle. It is one of the reasons why the conversion rates of long-tail keywords are high. In fact, as voice-triggered long-tail keyword searches are considerably longer, more natural and specific than text searches, the chances of grabbing a spot on Google’s Featured Snippets through high quality is very high.
Voice Search and The Emphasis On Organic Presence
As the number of voice searches steadily increases every year, the importance of voice search optimization would also gradually increase. It will not only impact the general SEO practices laid out by companies but also impact the overall digital marketing initiatives. With the advent of machine learning, AI, NLP, and analytics, the role of voice search optimization will gain further prominence. A study revealed that 80% of voice search answers are from the top three organic results. This figure illustrates that by simply investing in tried-and-tested good optimization practices, companies can appear on the top of voice search results. Build a mobile-friendly website, keep the language of the content simple & clear that an average reader can understand, focus on intent-based keywords and ensure that the page speed is excellent.