If there’s one trend to look out for in 2023; it could be the continued growth in voice search. No longer just a gimmick for joke telling, playing a song or divining the meaning of life: voice search is moving up the rankings as the popular choice when searching for local products, services and seeking information on the go.
What is voice search?
Voice search is the ability to search for something using your voice and a smart device. The smart device could be a smart speaker or a mobile phone that’s voice search enabled. Typically an activation command is required to switch on voice search – usually a name like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri – then the user speaks a search enquiry into the device.
Who uses voice search?
Voice search was initially favoured among younger users, with a recent survey by Mobile Marketer identifying that 55% of teenagers are using voice search daily. As accuracy in voice recognition has increased – in 2013, Google’s AI could recognize 77% of spoken words, today it can recognise 97% – popularity has grown amongst all age groups. Now 31% of smartphone users worldwide have been found to use voice search at least once a week [source: statista].
What does the rise in voice search usage mean for my website?
If you’re a business; you need to be found online. So optimising your website for voice search is an important action to put on your to-do list in 2023. Particularly if your customers search for your service or product when they’re on the go. According to Think with Google, 52.8% of people use a search assistant when driving.
Voice search is different to text searches. Voice searches tend to be longer, question-based, and geographically focused. That means a one-size-fits-all search approach to cover both text and voice search is unlikely to be successful.
If you want your website to perform well with voice search; you may have to do things a little differently. Let’s take a look at some of the areas you could focus on to get better voice search results.
Optimise your website for mobile
If you haven’t already set up your website to work for mobile browsers; you’re probably already missing out on business. Since 2016, the majority of online searches have come from mobile devices. Setting up your website to display properly and function for mobile should be a high priority. You can easily test your website and see how it performs here.
Think of why your user is searching – not just what they’re searching for
Not every search has the same purpose: your customer’s intent in looking for information should govern how you respond to their query. The good news is that this becomes easier with voice search as more conversational enquiries provide more information. Your challenge as a business is to make sure your website offers potential customers easy access to the information they are looking for.
If you’re not already familiar with Google’s Basics of Micro-moments then they’re a good starting point for breaking out the different stages of your customer’s journey. Optimising your site for voice search provides a great opportunity to reassess your site structure, grow your content, and ensure your customer’s needs are being met.
Use natural language – how would you speak your search?
Search engine optimisation for text search usually deals with keywords. Customers often abbreviate what they’re looking for, entering shortened phrases like “Best Restaurant Auckland” when they search.
With voice search your customers tend to talk in questions and full sentences, and your search performance will depend on your ability to reflect and respond to this. In the above example, a voice search customer might be more likely ask “What’s the best restaurant in Auckland and how far away is it?”.
An important starting point to optimise your website is to go through your products and services and work out what kind of questions your customer might ask, and what kind of phrases they might use. These questions will form the foundation to changes you need to make to your content.
Voice search is a popular option in vehicles for finding local businesses.
Retrofit your existing content
Once you’ve worked through some key phrases and questions you can effectively retrofit your existing content and blogs. Smart editing will allow you to make your content work for text search and voice search. Don’t forget to pay attention to media such as images and videos as well as written content.
Adding in geographic details is an important part of this process. If you don’t already reference your location across your site; take the opportunity to build the relevance of your content by linking it to your town, region and country.
Think in questions and answers
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) are a powerful tool for optimising your website for voice search. Creating a FAQ page on your website is a great way to provide direct answers to the long form queries you think your customers might make with voice search.
As well as an individual FAQ page, consider adding FAQ sections under each of your products or services so that you can group together the product or service specific enquiries that you might receive. Remember that the average voice search answer is approximately 29 words long so it’s important to keep your answers concise and relevant.
Optimise your content for the right search engines
While Siri (Apple’s voice search) uses Google to search, Alexa (Amazon’s voice search) uses Bing. That means it’s important to consider the needs of at least 2 search engines when you optimise your website for voice search.
While all search engines are effectively trying to match the best content with their user’s enquiry, there are some differences between them. If you want to make sure your website has the best search performance it could be a good idea to consult with an expert.
Use structured markup for your website content
Setting your website up properly can help search engines to get clear visibility of the content that’s available. That makes it clearer not just what you say on your site but also what products and services you’re making available to potential customers.
Structured markup or schema metadata is a development tool that lays out the information on the page in a format that’s easy for the search engine to read: allowing it to quickly scan relevance and match your site to a search enquiry. Getting this in place makes it easier for your website to perform and appear in front of your customers when they submit a voice search enquiry.
Voice search is growing in popularity and changing the content that you need to include on your website. Voice search optimisation requires long form questions, concise answers, location details and a greater focus on the user’s intent.
Now’s a great time to get your website in order to prepare for greater use of voice search in 2023. Tools to help you prepare your website include:
- Mobile optimisation
- Structuring your content around user intent and your buyer’s journey
- Identifying popular questions, answers, and retrofitting your existing content
- Adding FAQs across your website
- Considering the different relevant search engines as you optimise your content
- Adding structured markup/schema metadata to guide search engines through your content.
Moving forward with voice search optimisation
If you’re happy with your website overall, it’s relatively easy to prioritise some changes and start getting your content set up for voice search.
If you’re looking for expert help; caddie digital is here to provide the support you need. Our voice search audit is a simple review of your website where we take a close look at your site’s set up and content and make easy-to-understand recommendations about improvements you should make, in order of priority.
Need to update your whole website? Our Website Physical puts your website through its paces, looking closely at SEO, User Experience and Content with Voice Search Optimisation available as an optional extra. This holistic review of your website is a great way to identify the changes you need to make, in order of priority so you can manage them to suit your budget and your needs.