The Future of Voice Search in 2020

by

Michael DeVillar

A World of Help at the Power of Your Voice

Cell phones, computers, home personal assistants, all devices that now come equipped with voice search functions to help you with whatever you need. From the humble beginnings in 2010 with IBM’s Watson, to the current day of systems like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, these digital assistants have become smarter and more a part of our lives.

That isn’t the only change they have brought however. As more and more people adopt the use of these digital personal assistants, the way people search for things has begun to see dramatic changes. More and more people are beginning to use voice to handle search queries for a variety of things, and analysis shows that it is only going to become more common as time goes on.

With that in mind, one has to start looking at their website content and wonder how voice will affect their SEO.

Thankfully, there is already plenty of information out there as to how to optimize your website for search. We’ve collected some of the best methods so that you can ensure your webpage is ahead of the competition.

Optimizing Your Content for Voice Search

Use long tail keywords

In a study conducted by Backlinko, they discovered that the average length of a voice search result was 29 words in length. While that isn’t a lot of words in general, it is a lot for a search query, and it means that you have to start thinking about search differently.

Rather than focusing exclusively on short, concise keywords, use long tail keywords within your content. The added specificity will narrow search results but raise the probability of someone accessing your website and content to find what they are looking for.

So, making sure that your content is specific and focused is going to help in the long term to make your content more accessible to users of voice search.

Use natural language and answer questions

Typically, when people are using voice search they aren’t going to use it the same way they might if they were typing out what they wanted. When we speak, we oftentimes aren’t as concise or speak more conversationally, even towards something like Siri or Alexa.

While many voice search programs and digital personal assistants have taken up the heavy lifting of parsing out what to provide users there are things that you can do to help. Writing in a less formal tone and presenting your content in a friendly, inviting manner can do a lot to help with ensuring it is picked up in a voice search.

This goes double for including questions in your content.

Why include questions in your article? A lot of voice searches are based on people asking to get answers to something or asking how something comes to be. Including questions about your content, and then answering them can do a load of good for making your page visible.

If you’re having trouble adjusting your content to this style, or are just unsure how to, conduct keyword research to try to figure out the who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, why’s, and how’s of the thing you want to communicate, then put a fresh, informative spin on it.

Its also important, like the use of long tail keywords, to keep your answers specific. If you are answering a question of how to make something, don’t waste time! Keep concise, get the information across, and make sure that your answers are readable and well researched.

Utilize strong bullet points to deliver key information

  • By now you’ve probably noticed that a lot of content is in the form of bullet point lists.
  • This is because many people searching for content want the answers in an easy to parse, simple to understand way.
  • This allows them to get the information they need quickly.
  • It also creates succinct sections to keep content organized.
  • Creating bullet points is a great way to format information, especially lists.
  • However, make sure to keep the information in the bullet point focused for maximum effect.

Make sure you’re understanding user intent

It can be a little tricky to understand what exactly someone is looking for when they search something. Often when people are searching for something, there’s an idea behind the words that sometimes might be more specific than the search might imply.

Doing research on the long tail keywords you use and figuring out what people are actually looking for can help guarantee sure your content matches up with what people want and bring more eyes to your website as a result. Like any bit of market research, knowing what your

Google has also implemented technology that helps with this. The RankBrain AI and Hummingbird algorithm are both designed to assist with natural language searches. They work to try to provide accurate, relevant search results based on the general intent of people that have made the query before.

Taking advantage of this can help your search placement as knowing where to place your content and how to format it for optimum SEO means you’re making it easier for Google to pick you out of a crowd.

Ensuring good link authority

Backlinks are a common form of SEO that are used to build trust and higher ranking in Google’s search algorithm. Having a high domain authority or domain rating means that you are more likely to have dominance for search queries in your related keywords.

This also applies to voice, as it has been shown that domains with a higher domain authority were more likely to be chosen during a voice search. This is due mostly to the fact that while a front page on Google has ten results per page listed, a voice search only yields one answer.

Google needs to be absolutely sure that the information being provided is reputable. As such websites that have built trust and have a proven track record are going to get priority over websites that don’t, making it another reason why it is essential to build your own domain authority.

Optimize content length

One curiosity that has been noticed is that use of a Google voice search was more likely to choose results from pages that had 2000 or more words than they were from a web page with a smaller word count.

This may seem odd considering that most answers are snippets that are concise and to the point. But consider that the larger an article is, the more likely the opportunity that something Google is looking for is in there. While there is obviously a like between having a long form, informative post and something bloated just to fill space, taking the time to explain your points can yield better results.

So, you’re going to want to publish informative, longer content, if for nothing else than to maximize your chances of search relevancy. Just make sure to break it down into bite sized chunks so that it can be isolated, and utilized to answer a voiced question.

Try to get a Featured Snippet

Nearly 41% of all voice search results come from Featured Snippets. This makes having content that ranks in the oft called “position 0” very valuable. 

One of the benefits of voice search is that it doesn’t require you to be in the oft coveted Top 3 of a text based search result. As long as you are on the front page, you could get the featured snippet. This is something to shoot for regardless of if you are targeting your content for voice search or not.

All things considered however, don’t worry if you are not in a featured snippet, since you can still get the results without it. But it doesn’t hurt to try and maximize your chances!

Optimize for local search results

Making sure your content is setup to be easily discovered by potential local customers or clients is something you should be doing anyways, but for voice search it could make the difference between being chosen as the result or being passed over.

Ensuring things like your Google My Business (GMB) profile are up to date and optimized can help when people are searching for services near them. Keeping your GMB updated also helps to make sure that your company’s correct name, address, and phone number are accurate whenever you come up within a search result.

You also want to choose your category on your GMB. That way Google can better place your business in search queries and make sure that you’re being accurately represented in results.

Make sure website loads quickly

We have talked about this here at SEO Market Pros in another article, but the importance of a fast loading website cannot be overstated. Site load speeds are a part of how pages are ranked, meaning that if your website loads slowly, you are losing out on search placement.

This factors into voice search as well, as the typically a voice search is going to load much faster than the page the information is being pulled from. People want information fast, and the faster you can get them what they want the more likely Google is to use your content to get it to them. Testing your site speed for both PC and Mobile, and taking care of any heavy load issues will pay off in the long term.

Changing for the Future of SEO

A lot of this information might seem a bit familiar to anyone that’s researched SEO. Which is good because much of what is needed to optimize for voice search also has the combined benefit of also helping a website’s performance as a whole.

How we use search is going to constantly change, and so will SEO as a result. Keeping an eye on what trends are becoming consistent with user experience, and how search engines evolve is important to keeping your content at the top. With these tips you should be primed to better utilize voice search, and maximize the opportunity to get your content on those coveted first page rankings.

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