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How to Optimise for Voice Search in 2018 and Beyond

Voice search continues to be a hot topic in SEO. As per comScore’s predictions, 50% of all searches will be conducted via voice functionality by 2020 – and even more will be completed without looking at a screen.

By last year, 13% of all households in the United States owned a virtual home assistant – like Amazon Echo or Google Home – but this figure is projected to increase quickly over the next few years. Don’t be fooled by the margin on these predictions, however – it might seem reasonable to think that voice search isn’t a major player yet, but it’s already a reality.

According to alpine.ai, there will be one billion voice assistant enabled devices in circulation by the end of the year, and there are already over one billion voice searches per month, based on data from January 2018. If these figures seem high, note that alpine.ai actually state that their models show higher totals, but these are the figures they chose to set in stone.

While it’s easy to understand what voice search is, it’s less apparent how people choose to use it, and what they use it for. Today we explore how to best adapt for the current opportunities voice search presents.

Why Does It Matter How People Use Voice Search?

Because users don’t talk the way they type. This is vital to understand – even though we use voice search because it’s faster than text, we use longer queries. Rather than the clipped,  truncated keywords of text search, users speak in much more conversational search terms.

Semantic search is also an aspect that differs from text searches.  As search terms become more natural, engines have to work harder to place the terms in context, in order to deliver the most relevant content. This increases the importance of providing tangential information in optimized content – it is becoming more important to predict the user experience than it is to format for the benefit of search engines.

It’s also noteworthy that voice searches for information on local areas are more likely than voice searches for general information.  Localized and geo-tagged content is already starting to be caught in the tide of this shift.

How Can We Optimize for Voice Search?

The most obvious way to rank for voice search is to integrate long-tail question keywords into content. This increases your chances of appearing in Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ (PAA) featured snippet. This makes the strategy great for ranking toward text searches too.

When aiming for featured snippets, your content structure needs to be deliberate – Google prefers succinct answers to questions that are surfaced. Utilizing the power of headings can also help search engines identify that you are answering a question.

The next best thing you can do for voice search optimization is to take advantage of localization. When a user requests information on a local business, Google will default to using data from Google My Business listings, making them important to pay proper attention to. Fleshing out GMB profiles as much as possible serves to increase your chances of answering voice search questions as directly as possible.

What is the Future of Voice Search?

Despite it’s surging traffic, voice search is still an un-mapped frontier. Keeping an eye on the trends is the only way to predict where it might go next. This means taking advantage of Google Analytics, as it follows that fully comprehending voice search means fully comprehending mobile search.

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25 September 2018


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