jan 11

Firstly, I’m going to say something important – Voice search isn’t something new to the market, it’s been around since 2008 when Google included it in an earlier version of their iOS application. It has however in the past 3 years seen a spike in growth, with Google alone reporting more than double the number of voice search queries happening now in comparison to 2014.

Secondly, another myth I’m going to dispel, voice search is not something purely being picked up on by younger age groups and the famed Millennial generation. 56 percent of adults have even stated that they use it for the simple fact that it makes them feel more tech-savvy.

Voice search, even in these early days of popularity, is also pretty accurate. For location based searches (in Google) it recognises brand names and uses Google My Business listings (if they’re optimized correctly), and a study from Statista found that 28 percent of users believe voice search to be a more accurate way of search then using the traditional keyboard.

For example if I say ‘OK Google, who is the Prime Minister of the UK?” it will show Theresa May, as you might expect. Then if I say “What school did she go to?” it will understand I am talking about May and return St Hugh’s College, Oxford University. This move is almost conversational, so users are able to perform sequential searches without repeating parts of the search.

Voice Search = Human Search

As an SEO, we tend to look at the world as a series of keywords and search terms.

Gone are the days of simply trying to ‘cheat’ or ‘hack’ an autonomous, soulless algorithmic crawling bot by picking a couple of keywords, and then churning out content based on keyword density, optimizing your on-page and then pointing some exact match links at the term. In modern SEO, you need to produce authoritative content that puts the user first, and this is the same for voice search optimized content.

This change in tone is because users talk differently to how they type, one of the main things I use voice search for is for directions when I’m driving, last weekend I wanted to go to Ikea so I said to my phone (connected to my car via Bluetooth), “Ok Google, directions to Ikea in Leeds” and using the Google My Business listing, it opened up Google Maps and entered it’s Sat Nav mode.

It’s not just me who is finding voice search useful, Martin Woods an SEO Consultant in London, told me: “Since I got the Pixel phone, I’ve found myself using the built-in voice search feature constantly as I’ve found that it saves me time and understands that the searches I’m making are related, meaning that I don’t have to repeat myself or parts of the query”.

If you’ve been humanizing your content for a while now, which you should have been doing, this won’t be a big leap for you. This means that your non-commercial content needs to contain answers to potential questions that your customers might ask.

Questions not statements

Think about when you use voice search. How do you typically phrase your query?

When you ask a question, vocally, how do you phrase it? You start with adverbs or as we were taught in school, question words such as Who, How, What, Why and Where.

According to a Purna Vurji post on Moz, the most common adverb being used for voice search is Who. The post also details some other really good demographic and query data. A Search Engine Land study even found that there’s been a massive spike in question phrases — “a 61 percent growth year-over-year in fact.”

Typically people ask questions when they are researching a product or service, and a great example of this is choosing a holiday destination. Let’s pretend that you’re a travel company offering holidays to, and tours of Egypt, what are some of the questions that a potential Egypt holiday goer might ask?

  • What cities are near the pyramids?
  • When is the best time to visit Cairo?
  • How hot is Cairo in April?

The answers to these questions are sequential, so I would structure my non-commercial Cairo information page in this way.

Header image credit: Marketingland

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