In a mobile-first world that is increasingly using voice search, how do marketers go about optimizing content and staying ahead in the search engines questions Adrian Jennings, search performance director at Sekari
With the arrival of the new Google Pixel phone, which has a built-in Google assistant, smartphone users are getting used to the idea of voice search. With a wide range of virtual assistants becoming available, including Siri, Cortana, Google Voice Search, Now, Viv, Amazon Alexa and Google Home, we can now comfortably use our voice to help us find what we are looking for.
According to Google’s latest reports, 20 percent of all Google searches carried out from Android devices were voice searches. Teenagers appear to be the biggest users, with 55 percent of them using Google voice search more than once per day. The fact is that more and more users are adapting to voice search and this means SEO and content strategies need to adapt too.
Voice search queries differ from text: The language changes and becomes more natural with voice search. When you search on a desktop you might type in ‘holiday deals Seychelles’. However, if using voice search for the same results, you are more likely to search “what are the best deals for a holiday in the Seychelles”. Essentially both queries are the same but are very different in terms of language.
Search engines have come a long way but they are still largely based on relevancy to the search query. Therefore, these two searches are likely to produce very different results.
The results differ slightly, but interestingly a rich snippet rating appears when using voice search. This is likely due to the addition of the word “best” when voice searching.
Firstly, we need to adapt the way in which we think about keyword research and no longer focus only on the highest value two- to three-word phrase. We need to think of the actual questions people will ask to find the product/service, whether the right information is on the page and if there is enough of it, and whether the language on the page fits with the actual language people use.
In short, it is no longer good enough to create pages that target a few key phrases and expect the user to want to visit that page. We need to create pages with natural language and content that helps the consumer make an educated decision.
As voice search is likely to be more conversational, the queries are likely to be longer tail, consisting of a number of words. Typically, a user journey through the purchase funnel goes from long tail to short brand phrases as the user approaches buying the product. In the initial research phase they are unsure of what they want but have an idea of a need they want to fill. It is, therefore, important that there is enough information online to help them make this decision and narrow down their options. Content including reviews, lists, new releases, specification details, dates, and prices can give them that.
With voice search, it is increasingly important to cater to the top of funnel search queries and not only concentrate on product content. Studies have shown that voice searches are more likely to contain question words – how, what, where, when, why. This makes it all the more important to create content that answers these questions.
In addition, having content that answers these questions means that it is more likely to appear as a featured snippet. These results appear above the normal search results and feature a piece of text that answers a specific question. Generally, they are pulled from an FAQ section of a website. The featured snippet serves to answer a user’s question quickly but is also a great source of traffic.
To summarize, the SEO message remains the same: Create content and pages that engage with the user and allow them to easily find what they are looking for. Make sure they are mobile friendly and bear in mind that for voice search, you need to adapt the content and search campaigns to more natural language and answer the questions with a variety of content.