You’ve optimised your website and achieved rankings for selected keywords. With search engine optimisation (SEO) accomplished, your work is done, right?
Not quite yet. The next realm of SEO on marketers’ radars is optimizing for voice search. With almost one out of every four American adults owning a smart speaker as of 2020, and an increasing number of people opting for easier search methods via their phones, the potential reach of your voice search marketing efforts is too big to ignore.
Voice search technology is basically a computer setup that dialogues with a human being. It uses automatic speech recognition (ASR) to feed input signals to voice search devices that will then respond. Responses are typically the first result from Google for Siri and Google Assistant and Bing for Alexa and Cortana.
Recently, marketers have been trying to optimise website content to appear as results for voice searches. When using voice recognition devices, frequent questions users ask include information about sales, business information like open hours or locations, upcoming events and the weather. But just because your company doesn’t provide directions or weather updates, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about voice search.
Statistics from this year have found that 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day. But that popularity extends beyond the home. One survey found that over 40% of respondents use voice search in the office when alone. Additionally, more than 20% used voice search in the presence of colleagues.
Now that millions of people are working from home for the foreseeable future, they are likely to have even more access to devices like Alexa and Google Home, and may also feel more comfortable using voice search while alone.
Voice search’s high adoption rate owes itself to ease of use. Voice search technology allows for multitasking and instant answers. Everyone can ask a question faster than they can type it, saving seconds or minutes on a busy workday. Forty-three percent of users say they prefer voice search for its speed and 42% like that they can use it while driving and without their hands.
Voice recognition is also rapidly approaching 100% accuracy. When Apple first introduced Siri in 2011 and Google released its voice search features in 2013, accuracy was around 60 to 80%. Within five years, Google’s algorithm increased from 75% to 95% accuracy, about as accurate as a human.
Voice search website optimisation looks different than standard SEO practices. To rank higher in voice search results, here are some differences to note:
Voice search is often more conversational than typed search. When we speak our inquiry out loud, we tend to ask the full question rather than short phrases. Whereas online we might search “COVID-19 disinfectants,” by voice we are more likely to say, “Hey Alexa, which disinfectants are approved for use against coronavirus?” As a result, targeted keywords can look quite different depending on the search method your customers and prospects opt to use. Consider what questions your customer might ask and incorporate them, question and filler words included, into your content.
While a traditional Google search will lead you to the top 10 results, followed by additional pages of results, voice devices will only read one result aloud. To reach the coveted spot, marketers should try to optimise for “featured snippets.” Google often pulls these concise excerpts or lists from websites to feature at the top of its results pages. To help your customers find answers to their questions, state your website’s information clearly and consider organizing content into short lists.
A prerequisite to achieving high voice search ranking is having a user-friendly and optimised mobile website. If your website is hard to use on a smartphone, or worse, takes more than two seconds to load, it’s less likely to appear as a Google voice search result. Poor mobile websites often cause users to navigate away from your page and vow to never return. Look into your mobile functionality to ensure that investing additional time and effort into SEO won’t be in vain.
Some estimates predict that 50% of all searches will be voice in the near future. Given how quickly technology advances and how quickly we adapt to these changes, the future likely isn’t far off. Whether you’re trying to become a “Featured Snippet” or reach spot number one on a results page, there is no guaranteed blueprint for success. However, with clear and concise answers, your website can be a valuable and searchable resource for B2B buyers.
Interested in starting your SEO journey so that you can better position your brand in today’s competitive marketplace? Contact us today to learn how Mulberry can help your business stand out among search results.
Theresa Colston is an Account Coordinator at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She enjoys developing creative marketing ideas and building connections to drive results for clients.