Interacting with artificial intelligence may still seem like an idea from science fiction, but several companies have turned that idea into reality sparking the need to know how to optimize for voice search.
Is voice search really that important?
Yes, because it’s revealed something about us … we really, really like it.
When people have questions, they turn to the web for answers. If you want to learn more about a restaurant, the weather, or the score from last night’s game, you’ll probably turn to the web for the answer in most cases. It’s fast, efficient, and you can access it with your phone.
With voice search, you don’t even need your phone.
So, what does this mean for business owners?
Similar to the way you performed search engine optimization to align your website with the keyword your target customers use, you now need to understand how to optimize for voice search. Today, we’re taking a closer look at this process as well as why it’s important.
How Popular Is Voice Search?
The statistics on voice search definitely shows that it has become a lot more popular, and it will become even more prevalent in the future.
- Compared to 2008 voice search stats, search queries on Google voice search has increased 35 times by 2016.
- 4 out of 10 adults now use voice search at least once a day.
- About a quarter of young adults (ages 16 to 24) use voice search on their mobile devices.
- By 2016, 20% of searches on an Android app in the US were by voice search.
More and more people are using it. It’s just a fact of life, and it’s a practice that’s bound to increase in the future. It’s been predicted that by 2020, fully half of all searches will be by voice. Desktop users are using voice search more, and home automation and Internet devices are increasingly voice activated.
Top Reasons Why More People are Using Voice Search
There are several good reasons why more people are using voice search instead of typing in keywords into a search bar. One survey discovered the top reasons for resorting to voice search over keyboard tapping:
- Voice search is great when you’re eyes or hands are otherwise busy at something else. In many cases, this “something else” means driving. But it can apply to many other types of activities and situations. You can be doing chores at home, such as vacuuming or watching TV. You can be working out in the gym. So when your hands are busy, this means you can’t type in the words in the search bar. When you’re watching something else, you can’t see what you’re typing. In both cases, voice search makes more sense.
- Others use voice search because they appreciate the faster results. Think about it: how much faster is it for people to talk, compared to typing in the keywords? People can type about 40 words a minute, but they can speak up to 150 words per minute. Google can start its search much earlier with voice search.
- Some people use voice search because it’s easier. In many situations, it can be difficult to type in the words. This is certainly true when you’re on the go. Others aren’t yet well-versed in tapping the right letters on a smartphone screen.
- For some, it’s about the cool and fun factor. Kids and teens just think it’s a cool way to use Google. But quite a few senior citizens are enthralled by the technology as well. It’s just so Star Trek.
- Voice search is also a good way to avoid using confusing menus. This is especially true for apps that allow for voice search.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
So now that you know that people are using voice search more frequently, you have to adjust your website to accommodate this new trend. It took too long for some brands and websites to factor in the rising popularity of mobile search in the past, and they paid for it with reduced traffic. Now your website has to account for voice search if you want to take SEO seriously.
So what should you do? Here are some ways you can improve your website so that you can accommodate the needs of people who use voice search:
Update your local listings
In many cases, people use voice search to find info regarding brick and mortar establishments. So you need to make sure that your local listings are set up properly and they’re accurate. Put in your business information and pick your categories wisely. Your information should also be consistent with all the listings they appear in.
Use natural language keywords
The most common keywords used in voicemail will usually be in the form of long tail keywords and natural questions. You have to optimize your site for those kinds of questions.
Have a Q&A section
This is an effective way to have natural questions in your content. At the same time, you can provide the answers right away. It’s best if you don’t limit your Q&A to just your FAQ section. You may want to have your blog posts contain this kind of format. In fact, you can put them on your product pages as well. You have to build your content around questions that people might post on voice search.
Optimize for mobile
While it’s true that voice search is even becoming popular for desktop PC, the fact remains that voice search is more often done on smartphones. This means you need to make sure your website looks great on such a small screen. It should also feature navigation features that work best for smartphone touchscreens. Don’t put in links and buttons too close together.
Boos your website speed
Many voice search users are on the go. They’re also mobile Internet users, and these people are notoriously impatient. About 40% of all mobile users wait only 3 seconds before they abandon a website. So if it takes more than a few seconds for your landing screen to load, people are just going to tap the back button and try another website instead.
Make your content scannable
Most of the time, people won’t bother to read long articles on their smartphones. They’ve posted a question on their search, and they want to get the answer quickly. So use visual info if possible. For text, you need large fonts for headlines, simple sentences, and short paragraphs.
It’s imperative that you don’t miss the boat on voice search. You have to accept that more and more people are using this to find the website and data they need, and you have to optimize your website accordingly.