Voice search has an undeniable impact on search and marketing strategies, as it continues to grow its dominance in the search landscape. Take a look at these staggering statistics and predictions that talk about the changing dynamics of “Search” :
In 2019, your location-based business needs more than mere predictions – it really needs to be voice search ready. This article aims to help you get there. We are here to introduce you to our newly launched, Milestone Insights Voice Search Report – a comprehensive report that helps your SEO team find answers to:
- how ready your website is to get discovered by users through voice search
- what’s missing in your website that, if implemented, will add fuel to your voice search endeavors
We, at Milestone Inc., have been at the forefront of Search Engine Optimization and have been researching on voice search as it evolves. Our results show that voice search is causing a “paradigm shift” in (i) the fundamental way consumers browse and search on the web and (ii) the optimization techniques that are taking shape.
The “Paradigm Shift” in search:
1. Conversational interactions are replacing keywords:
|Text search query||Voice search query|
|Text Query: “hotels New York pet friendly”||Voice Query: “find me a list of hotels in New York that will welcome my small Chihuahua?”|
2. A verified answer is replacing the traditional SERPs (search engine result pages).
|Text search query||Voice search query|
|Search result for “hotels boston”:
List of organic & inorganic results across pages
|Search response for voice query – “find me a list of hotels in Boston”: Verified answers|
3. Lines between “search” and “routine tasks” are getting blurry as we increase our interaction with smart devices (e.g., Google Home / Amazon Echo / Apple HomePod) to “list Chinese restaurants near my house” while getting ready, “turn off the lights” before leaving the house, and “best route to Kimling restaurant” while driving off. This is in contrast from the text search where we would open Google search and consciously search for “top Chinese restaurant Downtown Crossing”.
4. Voice assistants are taking away the visibility of the answer’s source which was earlier accessible from direct links on the SERPs.
These definitely make search visibility trickier – it’s more like “winner takes it all” – where only the top verified result is delivered to the user. With such restricting changes, it’s more important than ever to have a super-optimized website ready for voice search.
Key factors to consider for Voice Search Optimization
Our research shows that voice search optimization is built on the following:
Factor 1. Hyper-local content with FAQs: With the advent of smart speakers, voice searches on mobile are now 3X more likely to be local-based than text searches. Therefore, to optimize your website for voice search, build content that is hyper-local.
As voice searches replace “keywords” with long-tail “conversations”, their results are typically in the form of short answers. This question – short answer format shares resemblance with FAQs. Needless to say, structuring your content in FAQ format will increase the probability of your website showing up for voice searches.
Factor 2. Basic SEO: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Voice search, being an extension of text search (with added speech-recognition) borrows the best of the time-tested search algorithms. Therefore, you need to ensure is that you get the basic SEO optimization for your website in place by focusing on the following:
- Ensuring fast page speed
- Site secured through HTTPS: (According to Backlinko.com 4% of Google Home result pages are secured with HTTPS)
- Optimized for mobile viewing
- All other optimization
Factor 3. Structured Data: Schema’s role in voice search is accentuated. Structured data can help secure position ‘0’ and make you the default answer spoken by voice search devices.
- Speakable mark-up helps voice assistants – Google is encouraging businesses to use speakable annotations. This will help identify content that will be read aloud.
- Schemas can influence Featured Snippets which have a high probability of getting picked as a voice search result.
Now that you know about these factors, proceed to assess and optimize your site for voice search.
How Voice Search ready are you?
Voice search readiness is not an option anymore. So, begin by assessing your website with Milestone Insights Voice Search Report.
The report’s Voice Search Optimization section shows the number of website pages that are voice search ready and have a chance of being considered as the preferred answer – using the factors discussed earlier.
Voice Search Report’s engine scans through websites and highlights whether your website’s overall Schema, Speed, HTTPS, and Mobile Optimization is in place—and therefore, giving you a clear picture of the current status and the gaps you can work on to become Voice Search ready
How do you define your voice search optimization roadmap?
Once you have assessed your website, you can align your content strategy and work towards optimizing your content using the road map below:
- Identify content buckets based on voice search keyword category types
- For each category, identify keyword opportunities where your content does not show up
- For the keywords where your content appears, identify featured snippets where your content does not show up
- Create Featured Snippet friendly content and FAQs with schema
- Optimize your website for mobile and performance
- Lastly, get to the top and try to stay at that position
Here is a list of keyword categories:
- Informational: Asking for generic or specific information (“Is Hotel Nikko pet-friendly?”)
- Directional: Asking for directions or performing near me searches (“How do I reach Kimling Restaurant in Boston?”)
- Review: Asking for reviews (“Which is the best Chinese restaurant in Boston?” or “5-star Chinese restaurants in Boston?”)
- Event: Asking questions particular to a day or period (“can I go to Bay Area today?” “Which baseball teams are playing tomorrow”)
- Others: Miscellaneous queries that do not fall into above buckets
The Voice Search Report will show the breakdown of keywords by categories that are relevant for your business. Start by identifying keyword opportunities based on these categories.:
The report further shows the keywords to target from the Voice Search Keyword Details section. It shows the existing questions your customers are asking, and which of them qualify for voice search.
This section displays the voice search keywords that are relevant, search volumes for these keywords on Google, rich results & featured snippets that show up for the keywords, keyword category and the page URL of your website (when your content includes the voice search keyword).
This section of the report addresses the following key questions:
1. Which voice search keywords have not been covered in the website content?
If the Page URL field for the corresponding voice search keyword is empty, that implies that your website content does not show up for the keyword search result. Otherwise, the relevant page for the keyword is displayed.
2. Which voice search keywords are really important?
The search volume will show the number of times the keywords have been queried for a date range.
Using these keywords start designing your website content. You can even create “Actions” to train the Google/Amazon voice assistants for these keywords.
3. What Featured Snippet opportunities exist for a keyword?
Featured snippets, as we discussed earlier, have the highest probability of getting picked as a preferred spoken answer for voice search. Therefore, your optimization endeavors should focus on getting your content displayed as a Featured Snippet on search:
The report shows:
1. Whether a keyword invokes a rich result / featured snippet
2. Whether your content already appears for them
|Your content is appearing as an Amp result rich result|
|The keyword search is invoking a Featured snippet that you can target|
|Your content is appearing as a featured snippet for the keyword|
This helps you in identifying keywords for which featured snippets appear and can be targeted, thus helping you plan your content according.
Voice Search Optimization is in its early days where Google’s Voice Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana are adding data and learning from them every day. If predictions are to be believed, 2020 should be a landmark year for voice search. Therefore, if you embrace voice search right now when your competitors still warm up to it, your chances to win over in the “winner takes it all” would be the highest.
To begin your voice search journey, subscribe to Milestone Insights Voice Search Report. Our dedicated Customer Success Manager will help you assess your website’s voice search readiness and consult you on identifying voice search keyword opportunities and deploying Google Actions and Amazon Skills. If you are a Milestone customer, reach out to your CSM today. If not, call us at +1 408-200-2211.