Voice search is the fastest-growing type of search. With kids feeling “cool” and adults feeling “tech-savvy”, this trend is here to stay. Here’s how your SEO will change.
Can You Hear Me Now? Good.
Voice search probably hasn’t taken off the way most of the big tech companies would have hoped. In the past, most people would rather type their search query and avoid the errors that tend to come with voice recognition software.
Advancement in voice dictation technology has significantly lowered the average word error rate. Now that voice search is more accurate, more people are comfortable using it. Over half of teens aged 12-18, use voice search daily. Adults are getting in on the fun too with 41 percent of them talking to their phone each day.
With teens feeling “cool”, adults feeling “tech-savvy”, and continuous advancement in mobile voice tools, that can only lead marketers to speculate about the future of voice search and how that will affect SEO.
Recent History of Voice Search
Voice search is not new. Spanning back to the 1950s, many companies have had a go at speech recognition software. The past 11 years in voice recognition software have really dived into mobile, search, and virtual personal assistants.
Let’s look at some of the recent voice recognition software milestones:
- In 2005, Samsung announced VoiceMode on one of their new phones. At the time, it was the first speech-to-input technology available on a cellular device.
- Fast-forward to 2008 when Google announced that voice search would be available through their mobile app for iPhones.
- In 2011, Apple decided to release Siri, an intelligent assistant you communicated with via voice.
- In 2014, Microsoft announces Cortana, their voice-activated assistant and answer to Apple’s Siri.
- In June 2015, Amazon released their smart voice-enabled wireless speaker, Echo, which uses the Alexa voice service.
Segmenting Searchers: The ‘Talkers’ and The ‘Typers’
The first thing to know is that as voice searching becomes mainstream, there will be two types of searchers that websites will need to simultaneously appeal to, the talkers and the typers.
What’s the Difference?
We don’t type how we talk and vice versa. When typing a search query, we tend to type in shorthand, using the least amount of words such as Weather Orlando, FL. When we talk, we tend to ask complete questions. For example, “Siri, what is the weather in Orlando, Florida?”
When people are typing, it seems that they are more willing to dig through web pages and research the answers to their questions. When users are searching via voice, it is usually because they want a quick, instant answer.
Changing Search, One Voice at a Time
What some marketers may fail to realize is that the rise of voice as a primary search method is going to significantly change how we optimize our site and our content. Currently, one of the biggest SEO ranking factors is the number of inbound links your site has.
In the future, you can expect to see websites optimize for user behavior instead. Expect to see Google implement algorithm changes that will penalize sites for not being voice-search friendly, much like what happened with Google’s Mobilegedon last year.
With other emerging trends like the innovation of virtual assistants, local search, and artificial intelligence, the future of voice search is promising. We will see the digital assistants sharing data with search engines and vice versa. Users will play a much larger part in how sites adjust because optimization will be based on user behavior.
If you plan to have a site that ranks in the future take heed of my predictions for the future of SEO as influenced by voice search.
Natural Language Focus
Because people talk differently than they type when searching, we will see some of the continued rises of some current trends and the introduction of a new one.
While we probably won’t see short-term keywords disappear entirely, they will continue to become less and less relevant as search adopts a more natural, conversational approach.
Semantic Search Focus
Semantic search is already a growing trend that focuses primarily on the context of entered queries, rather than just the queries themselves. This allows Google to be more accurate in determining the most relevant sites to show on the search engine results page (SERP).
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs are already on many sites, but I think that the FAQ is going to make a huge comeback as voice search becomes the primary search method. Most people ask full questions when voice searching, and the sites that can quickly answer those questions will be deemed voice search-friendly, and rank higher than its competitors.
Site Optimization Trends
I believe that with the emergence of voice search as a prominent influence we will see SEO best practices change and new the optimization tools emerge.
Schema Markup for Voice Search
If you already are not using or familiar with schemas, you could be missing out on a major optimization technique. Schema is code that helps search engines return more information with search results.
We will see the implementation of new schema markup specifically for voice search. Web sites that utilize the new schema markup will have an SEO edge.
Optimized Site Microdata
With the new schema markup, we will also see that the importance of site microdata will rise. Things like your company address and phone number will need to be accurate and marked with schema because this is the type of information that searchers will want immediately.
Also, metadata and XML sitemaps will find renewed influence in SEO rankings. They will be more important in guiding search engines to crawl their sites without any difficulty. The key will be to find the information the user is searching for in the quickest amount of time.
Rise of the Optimized Video
We already all know that video is the future of content marketing, which is why we will see innovations in optimizing videos. Voice searchers may be looking for information that your company has on an embedded video.
Imagine being able to provide some type of markup or coding that would allow search engines to know what is being said and when it is being said in the video. Searchers could ask a question and get a short video, or video clip returned in their results.