If you find yourself prefacing questions with “OK Google,” or asking Siri or Alexa for answers, you’re participating in the growing use of voice search. In the fast-changing world of search marketing, the ability to be found in search results activated via voice is becoming an important part of a comprehensive search strategy. According to a 2014 Northstar Research study commissioned by Google, 41% of U.S. adults and 55% of teens use voice search -- and these numbers have only grown.
What It Is
Voice search uses speech recognition technology to enable searchers to make voice command search queries. As a result, search engines will return a direct answer and show a list of results. The search engine works by matching the question to the most relevant answer while considering searcher history and behavior. These voice-based search queries use a combination of technologies to provide results: natural language processing (NLP), text to speech (TTS), and pre-programmed language voice search tools including Google’s voice command app, Apple’s Siri, Window’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa.
As its use continues to grow, brands need to have a strategy in place that focuses on optimizing for voice search. Here are a few unique areas to consider as you incorporate voice search into your overall search marketing strategy:
1. When determining target keywords and content, keep in mind the conversational nature of voice searches.
2. Develop questions that searchers may ask and make sure you have content that answers those questions. This could include adding Q&A content to your site.
3. Consider the customized experience of voice search. Google is becoming extremely personalized with its voice-activated apps, such as giving specific traffic information at the time of an individual searcher’s commute and customizing data and reminders.
4. Ensure your site is mobile friendly and follows Google’s mobile SEO best practices.
5. Optimize local sources as mobile voice searches often involve “near me” queries.
6. Implement structured data markup including rich snippets, breadcrumbs, and Sitelinks search box. Google will pull from the structured data markup and display it in the Knowledge Graph depending on whether the site is authoritative for the search query.
Measuring Voice Search’s Impact
Voice search is highly personalized, which can make it difficult to measure your strategy’s effectiveness. Keyword ranking tools such as Linkdex can provide a start to understanding mobile data, however there’s still much more to be learned about long-tail mobile search rankings. For mobile (m.) sites, Google Search Console’s “search analytics” feature allows you to filter for queries to measure click behavior between associated keywords and phrases. While neither of these are a comprehensive solution, it’s likely that more accurate measurement tools are on the horizon.
The Future of Voice Search
As the capabilities and value of voice continue to grow, there are a few anticipated changes that should influence your voice search strategy. First, the conversational tone of voice search will continue to evolve. This means marketers will need to place increased emphasis on sentences, phrases, and topics rather than keywords (semantic search).
Additionally, there will be a greater need to optimize for long-tail keywords. Tagging will play a large role in success and marketers will need to optimize images and videos. It should also be noted that rather than taking users to a specific page, data and stats will be read back to the user and/or immediately displayed on the user’s device, rather than taking them directly to a site.
By taking a strategic approach to voice search and incorporating it into an overall search marketing strategy, marketers have an opportunity to get their brands in front of a growing audience. For more on how to best optimize your content for voice search, reach out to Rise.