Update Aug 9th 2019
Original article Published June 14, 2018
How Voice Search Will Effect SEO
Did you know as many as 20% – 25% of search queries are performed by voice command? With Google’s new AI Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, there is no doubt that voice search and command is the future. Whether you’re personally using voice search or not, it’s already shaping SEO and how your company is found online.
Voice Search is Often Local.
How Does Voice Search Work?
Because speaking is often more convenient than typing, people are using voice search on their smartphones to find information online. When voice search was brand new, it was a fun feature to use but wasn’t the most reliable for search. In 2013, Google’s word recognition accuracy rate was just below 80 percent – worse if you spoke in anything other than an American accent.
Like other technology, things have changed quite a bit over the past few years. Today, voice search is 96 percent accurate, leaving little doubt this technology is here to stay. Just watch Google’s latest demonstration of its Google Assistant on Youtube.
Semantic Search Will Become More Important.
Google relies on a variety of factors besides keywords. One of the most important is the user’s previous searches or patterns – to deliver search results based on what Google thinks the person is looking for.
This is known as “semantic search.
Here’s an example of semantic search in action. When you search “haircut” and “Vancouver” from your computer in Vancouver, Google understands that you’re likely looking for businesses close to you where you can get a haircut.
Before semantic search, either search would have made sense on the keywords alone. But semantic search knows that if you’re searching from Vancouver, chances are higher that you’re looking for a haircut close to your home.
Having A Mobile-First Site Is Non-Negotiable.
If this isn’t obvious already, Google’s given fair warning that they’re moving to a mobile-first world, and your company better modernize if it hopes to compete. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll get downgraded and won’t have a hope of making it in the top search results.
If your site doesn’t load quickly or looks bad on your smartphone, people will quickly search elsewhere Keep a high bounce rate for too long, and your rankings will tank accordingly.
Having a mobile-friendly site is even more important when it comes to voice search. Voice searches got their start on mobile, and over half of people use voice search while driving.
The Battle For First Place With Snippets Will Continue.
People using voice search are often looking for a store, product or service near them. From a local search perspective, it’s important to use terms on your site which identify your city and neighborhood.
Also, SEO experts need to make content easy for Google to read and understand by framing the question in header tags, and then answering it quickly. Tabular and bulleted information are also great formats for featured snippets.
Website Directories Will Become Even More Important For Local Businesses.
An overwhelming majority of customers use search for online reviews of local businesses such as Yelp or Google.
Unfortunately, consumers don’t search for your local business (wouldn’t that be nice). They search for the “best [type of business].” Directory and review websites rule these searches, so SEOs need to be thinking of them as search engines in their own right.
Having an optimized Google My Business listing is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s required if you want to survive voice search, especially on Google devices.
The more complete your listing is – with photos, positive reviews, and owner responses – the more likely you are to have increased search results.
Brand Names Will Need To Be Easy To Pronounce
When Google uses a website’s information in a featured snippet, it shows the searcher where they pulled the information from, so they can click through should they want to find out additional information.
For voice searches, Google introduces the answer by saying “According to [your site]” or “We found this information on [your site].”
That means brands can benefit from increased brand awareness. However, because Google reads out the web site’s name, having a brand name that’s pronounceable may become even more important for that awareness to pay off. That means if you’re thinking about starting a new company, don’t use crazy or different spelling from the norm.
Voice search is changing the way people search, make purchases and learn new information. If brands want to stay visible, they need to change their SEO strategies accordingly. If you want more information about voice command or anything else SEO related then contact us. 250.801.6588