Getting ahead of the curve
The ability to undertake searches by voice will change user expectations about speed and ease of accessing relevant information, so how to prepare for voice search is a question that should be top of mind for every business owner. It’s never been more important to make sure as a business you understand your target audience, their behaviours, motivations and needs.
So, what can you and your business do to get ahead and provide your users with a great voice search experience?
- Use ‘conversational language’ keywords
On average, humans speak 150 words in the same time it would take them to type 40, so voice search queries become longer and more conversational in tone. It seems contrary to the premise that longer searches are less common, have less search volume than short searches with few keywords and therefore aren’t as valuable to target in an SEO strategy. But those long-tail searches are where much of the relevant volume can lie, so they are an important market if your digital strategy.
Top tip: when you’re next conducting keyword research, focus on the types of questions users might ask to find your business. Think about the conversational keywords used. Are they adjectives? Do they relate to a location and its variants?
Question keyword searches are up an estimated 61% year on year, so including short and concise answers in your content is key. Creating or enhancing your FAQ page is an effective way of doing this. Attempt to get into the minds of your customers and consider how they would talk about your business, and then apply that to your content.
But don’t go overboard and create a single page for every question you think will be asked. It’ll dilute your site and be of little benefit.
- Increase site load speed
Site speed is crucial. One study found the average load speed of a voice search result page is 4.6 seconds, which is 52% faster than an average webpage. Brilliant content or not, a slow website could hinder the chances of your content being featured in a user’s question. Although a little old (2016), these stats from Google illustrate this point perfectly.
- Focus on your location and local SEO
Mobile search users are increasingly searching for location-specific information relevant to their immediate situation – a restaurant near me, a shoe-repair shop near me etc. Google reports that “_____ near me now” searches have grown by 500% over the last two years, yet the postcode, city or region qualifier is being dropped. Users now assume that search engines know their location and provide relevant results using the near me appendix.
Top tip: Make sure local search is part of your strategy. Above all, get your Google My Business (GMB) listing in tip-top shape with opening hours, up to date contact details, latest images and posts. You can now add offers to your GMB profile, which may prove to be important in local voice search for the future.
- Strive for featured snippets
Did you know that 40.7% of voice search answers come from featured snippets? These snippets of content can be pulled from any website on the first page of results. Optimise your content with the tips provided above to increase your chances of being featured.
- Switch from your previous keyword list to the question-orientated searches that start with who, what, where, when, why and how
- Be succinct in how you answer those questions. 45 – 97 words is the range to aim for
- For the best chance of achieving a snippet, format your content as a paragraph.
- Make sure you do some good traditional SEO – optimise the page, link to and from it, get external links pointing to it
These are the most popular keywords included in featured snippets according to this post on Moz.
The growing popularity of voice search offers brilliant opportunities for both users and businesses. As stated by Albert Creixell, the Partnerships Head at Amazon Alexa, ‘Utterances are the new hashtags’, identifying the growing importance of conversational language.
So, in the spirit of helping our customers understand how to prepare for voice search and stay ahead of the curve, we’re giving away two Google Home Minis to anyone who subscribes to AB emails. All you need to do to enter is subscribe below. The competition closes on 30th November 2018, full T&Cs here.
Author: Sarah Sennett
Sarah is the Head of Digital Marketing & Strategy at AB... and enjoys helping organisations get the most from their marketing activities. With an affinity for a data-driven approach, she specialises in customer and user experience, SEO and PPC management. At the moment, she's really interested in voice search. Sarah is Google-certified in both Ads and Analytics and has over 11 years of experience in digital marketing. She also has an MSc in Digital Marketing Communications and joined the AB... team in April 2017.