Working to take advantage of the new opportunities can be a challenge in digital marketing with new technological developments that shift business boundaries every year. One of these market changes was caused by the widespread adoption of voice search technology and its effects on internet use.
As a consequence, this has had an impact on search engine optimization, where it is important for most companies in the current era to adopt best SEO practices. Internet voice search could be set to disrupt SEO conventions, so businesses would be well advised to keep up-to-date with the changes and plan accordingly.
The rise of voice technology
The launch of IBM’s Watson in 2010 paved the way for computers with speech technology. Watson is a versatile question-answer device of voice recognition that has shocked the world as a super-intelligent, reasoning and communicating robot that has been able to beat Trivia grandmasters on the tv quiz show,’ Jeopardy.’ Google launched its Voice Search in the same year, and Apple introduced the first robotic personal assistant, Siri, for the iPhone 4S.
This was followed in 2014 by Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon Echo, a personal assistant-powered voice speaker, Alexa. Google Assistant, as well as the Google Home smart speaker, was launched in 2016. Initial figures showed that Amazon Alexa is the market leader, although Google Home is expected to take the lead by 2020. Alice from Yandex and AliGenie from Alibaba are other popular robotic assistants on the global stage.
Since its inception, voice recognition technology has improved significantly. Google estimates 95 percent accuracy and 98 percent accuracy of the Chinese iFlytek speech recognition system.
Voice technology has also spread to devices falling under the umbrella term, the Internet of Things (IoT), such as a smart TV, a smart thermostat, or a home kit. While it may be feasible, Internet voice search for most of these apps does not yet have direct applications, and the largest share of searches is actually being done on either a smartphone or a smart speaker.
Twenty percent of queries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices are voiced, while at least once a week, according to Statistica, 31 percent of smartphone users use voice.
Media analytics firm Comscore predicts that by 2020, half of all online searches will be conducted by voice, while Gartner predicts that 30% of online searches will be conducted on devices without a screen in the same year. It indicates a huge increase in voice search, as well as improved smart speaker acceptance. Juniper Research estimated earlier this year that 3.25 billion voice assistants would be in operation–a number expected to reach eight billion by 2023.
Effects of voice search on SEO
Voice shapes our approaches to technology and the internet, but what effect does it have on the search engine?
Through advanced and efficient voice recognition technologies, voice processing is well suited to the everyday use of words, enabling users to give orders as if they were listening to a human being. Emerging technologies are looking to improve the user experience for any areas of potential confusion. The 2018 Internet Trends Report by Mary Meeker, venture capitalist and internet trends expert, showed that 70% of English language voice searches were done in natural or conversational language.
Usually spoken language is not as concise as the written word, so queries will be longer than the three or four keyword searches that are more common to graphical user interfaces (GUI). According to Backlinko, voice searches now equal 29 words in length. By using more long-tail keywords, SEO strategists will need to adjust, with the added benefit that the longer keyword phrases are, the higher the conversion probability.
Voice searches will more often include the words of the question which are usually omitted in written searches, when, where , and how. Marketers need to ensure that content can provide accurate and relevant answers to voice search queries and distinguish between simple and more comprehensive answers. Typically, queries that can be answered with very short answers will not generate traffic to a website because Google will often provide the required information through the search snippets featured.
According to SeoClarity (add outbound link for citation), only 25 keywords trigger 20% of voice searches. These include question words and other commonly used verbs like make, do and can, as well as key nouns and adjectives, including a recipe, new, easy, types and home. These can be worked on in SEO strategies, and to a higher degree, question-form queries can show user intent. Therefore, marketers can optimise content according to higher-value questions.
In contrast to lexical searches looking for literal matches of keywords, semantic searches try to find the intended meaning of the user within the terms used. User search history, global search history, user location, and keyword spelling variations can assist with this interpretation.
RankBrain from Google is an artificial intelligence system designed to identify words and phrases and boost the performance of internet searches. This independent quality of RankBrain’s thinking helps you take query handling to a more sophisticated level. Hummingbird is another Google technology that supports natural language queries.
Voice search has accentuated the use of local search. When browsing by voice, users will be three times more likely to search locally. Research over the past year indicates that 58 percent of customers find local businesses via voice search, and 46 percent use voice technology to find local business knowledge on a daily basis. This change should be taken into account by marketing strategies and optimised for queries about “near me.”
In search engine results pages (SERPs), about 75 percent of voice search results will be ranked in the top three positions. Rich Answer Boxes shown at the top of the results pages respond to most voice searches. Thirty percent of Google queries contain featured snippets. These are extracts on the first page of SERPs from any website and brands are given credit in voice search as well as usual searches for GUI. Brands only need to be used in the featured snippets on the first page, rather than position zero.
Ecommerce is particularly affected by voice, as consumers are much more likely to make purchases by using voice. Sixty-two percent of voice speaker owners made purchases with their virtual assistant, and 40% of millennial used voice assistants (SEARCH ENGINE WATCH OUTBOUND LINK) before making purchases online. Therefore, digital assistants should be a priority for online retailers–and the best ways to optimise them.
Adapting to voice search
With voice technology having an impact on SEO in different ways, a few recommended steps can be taken by brands to adapt accordingly.
- Google Voice prioritises websites that are loaded quickly, so brands should ensure that images are optimised, files are compressed, response times are reduced, and the site is fully responsive.
- Long-tail keywords that represent common queries used in voice search will maximise material. Focus on the language of nature.
- The snippets featured are summary responses from web pages that can be used in zero position. To optimise content for this, use H-tags and bullet points to include identifiable extracts to be featured and make content easier for Google to read.
- Further information about a brand and drive traffic is generated by organised data and schema markup. We make pages appear in rich snippets, increasing the chances of being the first answer in voice searches.
- In order to meet the increased search volume for local businesses with voice, local information for your brand should be provided–using Google My Business will help.
- Increasing domain authority will help with search rankings–by including high-quality links, this can be improved.
There is no doubt about the impact of voice technology on SEO. Given the enormous increase in voice adoption and use, the impact on business will be significant. Those brands that can anticipate changes and stay ahead of them before they happen will surely reap the benefits in coming years.
Ref. Search Engine Watch