According to a study from 2019 (in German), 40 percent of those surveyed have already used voice search in the previous year. Another study predicts that by 2020, more than half of all mobile search queries will already be attributable to voice searches. And: the trend is rising. Reason enough for companies to adapt to the new search behavior of their customers. After all, if you don’t optimize your voice search and can demonstrate a good voice search readiness score, you may soon not be found anymore.
“Hey Siri, What is Voice Search?”
Voice Search is the term used to describe all search queries that are not made using the keyboard but with human speech. Almost every large technology group now has its own assistant or smart device. Examples of this are:
- The Google Assistant is pre-installed on almost all new Android smartphones and also controls home automation systems in conjunction with Google Home.
- Siri, the famous female language assistant from Apple
- Cortana, the language assistant from Microsoft, is included by default in Windows 10.
- Alexa is the name of Amazon’s language assistant, which can be connected to the intelligent speaker Echo.
There are two main differences between “normal” search queries and voice search queries. Firstly, while users generally use short and keyword-like words via keyboard (example: “Hand Luggage Swiss”), the keywords with voice search are rather colloquial and long (“How much hand luggage can I take with me on the plane with Swiss Airlines?”). In addition, users of voice search usually only expect a precise answer to a specific question, whereas conventional search often serves more elaborate research.
“Alexa, What Does SEO for Voice Search Look Like?”
- First of all: SEO for voice search requires good SEO! For the voice assistant to be able to select your website as the answer source, it must be top-optimized. Because voice search can hardly be viewed in isolation from other search engine optimizations. After all, the search engine must understand what your site contains. For you, this means: your site needs a clear page structure as well as a title, meta descriptions, H1 and H2 tags, and all other components that are also important for “normal” SEO.
- If the user gets the result read out, it means that the language assistant has probably selected a featured snippet as the response. Featured snippets appear in Google above the search results, i.e. at position 0, which means that the user does not get several results, but the best one is read out. Therefore, you should not inadvertently switch them off using the meta tag “Nosnippet”.
- On the contrary: You should highlight certain text snippets of your website by using a corresponding markup in the source code of the page (so-called structured data) for certain types of sections (such as products, recipes or ratings). On the one hand, this increases the relevance for the user (a plus for the click rate) and, on the other hand, the information contained therein can be read out easily. Although there are already markups for language searches – the so-called Speakable Markup – this is still in the beta phase and can only be used by news publishers in the USA.
- Create content that has an advisory character and reflects a topic in a holistic way. With voice search, the density of a keyword is less important than the readability and use of mid- and long-tail keywords.
- Use questions in the H2 tags and resolve them directly in the following text. Surely not every page of your site should become a FAQ page – but it’s not wrong to create one for specific focus topics. The most important questions about your keywords are best researched using Google Suggest and W-question tools.
- Most search queries via language wizards have a local reference, so local SEO is immensely important. Many users search for a bakery “near me” or the opening hours of shops on the road. Therefore, when optimizing for voice search, you should never forget your entry in Google My Business and check the information it contains. Also use the local reference in title, meta description, and H1 and H2 tags on your website. Be sure to mention your location here.
- Since most search queries come from mobile devices, you should optimize your website for mobile users. At this point, Google offers helpful tools to test mobile friendliness or mobile loading speed.
“Hey Cortana, How do I Measure Voice Search Traffic?”
The measurement of voice search traffic is currently still a complex issue. Although the traffic should actually come from organic search, in Google Analytics it falls under “direct traffic” and is therefore strictly speaking dark traffic.
What Are the Consequences of Voice Search?
If the voice assistants do not find a perfect answer to the spoken search query, they display the most suitable results as search result pages (SERPs). As a result, mobile traffic increases.
However, if the voice wizard reads out the correct answer to the user’s question, the user no longer needs to click on the corresponding website. This results in so-called zero-click searches and the traffic on the website decreases.
This may sound negative at first. However, it offers the opportunity to make brands more well-known and to increase trust in the site. Companies with a focus on location marketing, for example, can certainly benefit from this.