More and more people are using mobile personal assistants everyday. With “Near Me” searches surpassing last year’s 50% year on year growth, as seen by Google Trends. (1) What began as Siri in 2010 has morphed into 2016’s ‘Google Home’, ‘Amazon Echo’ and a spectrum between them including cars and smartwatches. Voice search via Google, Siri, Cortana and Alexa is now posing a significant shift in behaviour from traditional typed queries. This has resulted in SEO professionals having to adapt and understand this new search as it becomes a more prominent fixture within the digital marketing environment.
Google have reported that 55% of teens and 41% of adults (2) use voice search on a daily basis; with this expected to rise in the next few years. Although marketers currently have no way to track and measure the impact of what conversions are coming from voice search, Google has said that they may start to provide data for in Search Console in the future. In the meantime, Marketers need to start following this trend and adapt their SEO techniques to coincide with new voice search terms. This will enable search engines to extract information from brand websites to meet their consumers’ needs.
Studies into voice searches has so far highlighted a 61% growth in longer queries than in typed searches, most of which are question or action-based. This provides insight into how consumer search habits differ between voice and written searches and if voice searches tend to be more action-based, it could be argued those users are more likely to convert.
Marketers need to start taking note of these differences and use them within their own digital campaigns. This will allow them to tailor and adjust their existing content around the needs of their target consumers. Pages should be structured with content that provides ‘instant answers’ for consumer needs in order to optimise page positionings in search engine rankings.
Although voice search is still quite new, it isn’t quite as popular as traditional typed searches. The continued increase in the use of voice suggests that marketers would benefit in optimising their SEO to suit this trend sooner rather than later. This will prepare them for the future, making them stand apart from slower to adapt competitors and incumbents. Adapting to this trend will ultimately allow marketers to follow and gain insights into how this shift can, and will, disrupt current search and digital marketing strategies as it grows in popularity. This will give marketers the chance to change strategies, to ensure they meet their users requirements as voice search progresses.
Voice search on mobile devices provides a different user experience from that of a typical search on desktop. Currently it has been reported that 50% of people are now using voice search (3) to research products in an action-based way as it provides them with a more immediate and convenient connection to what they are looking for, which Google describes as ‘Micro-Moments’. (4) If marketers begin monitoring and comparing their performance through SEO, they can begin to identify how, what and why customers are voice searching. This information can be utilised to optimise own content and information to predict user behaviour, which will then increase consumer engagement conversion rates. A search engine will be able to answer an individual’s common questions and searches with products and answers relevant to the marketers brand and products.
Another challenge marketers are facing is that typed and spoken queries vastly differ in length. Whilst typed queries are often short and to the point, spoken queries are typically longer with a more conversational tone, reflecting an individual’s natural language. For example, when searching for a top restaurant in London, a typed search will more than likely consist of something like ‘Top London Restaurants’, whereas a voice search will most likely contain a ‘who, what, where, when, why and how’ element, such as “What are the top restaurants to eat at in London?” Marketers can use commands used (5) within ‘OK Google’ for a rich source of keywords which can be used as filters within their competitive analysis tools as well as publishers’ own data.
If marketers want their products found through voice search from now and into the future, they need to start working with SEO to research, tailor and produce content that contains keywords and phrases formed from a natural ‘who, what, where, when and how’ discourse. This will allow them to understand and provide content with an action query spin, which Google sees 30 times more within voice searches compared to typed. (6) In addition, content will be optimised, providing an increase in engagement by focusing on discovering and answering target audiences’ most frequent questions and needs. In short, marketers who invest in voice SEO now will gain first mover advantage, by increasing their search engine visibility, over competitors. Which will ultimately drive more conversions and relevant leads, through this relatively new but deceptively familiar search medium.
About the author: Reading based entrepreneur, Simon Schnieders, founded Blue Array in 2015 based on over a decades in-house experience of web and mobile SEO for some of Europe’s leading brands and startups. Before turning his attention to ‘large scale SEO’ and founding his boutique SEO company, Simon spent several years consulting at Zoopla Property Group Ltd, growing their IPo from £0-£1bn, driving the groups fastest growing upstream channel. Prior to this, he worked as part of the team that drove Mail Online to overtake the New York Times as the world’s number one online newspaper website.