voice search

Is your business geared up for voice search?

In the nine years since Siri first appeared, voice search has come a long way. It’s now a major digital force, with more voice-activated technologies available, from Alexa and Google Assistant to Cortana. Voice has fundamentally changed the way we interact with the internet, and is increasingly a part of daily life.

Why it matters

This year, according to research firm Gartner, screen-free web browsing sessions were expected to top 30%. The company also predicts that, by 2021, brands which redesign their website for voice search could boost their e-commerce income by a similar percentage. Another figure has it that, this year, half of all searches in the UK will be voice-based.

And, according to separate research last year, more than a fifth (22%) of adults use voice search up to five times daily. Searchers use voice queries to multitask and get things done more quickly and easily, so that they get the answers they need immediately, especially if, say, they’re driving or cooking.

Many use voice assistants for commands – e.g. ‘call Mum’. But the potential for brands to reach consumers both when they’re on the move and throughout their homes is massive and growing constantly.

What’s more, accuracy has increased considerably, with Google claiming a 95% rise in voice recognition since 2013.

What you need to do

It makes sense to start optimising for voice search now, to get the most from it in the long run, especially if you’re a local shop or similar business. Not only will be people using voice search to find out your location and opening hours – they’ll be after details of special offers, customer support, forthcoming events etc.

That means that optimising existing content as an afterthought won’t be effective long-term. It needs to be a key part of your strategy from the outset:

  • People speak and type differently

People speak in regular questions rather than using specific keywords. Tools such as Answer the Public and People Also Ask can help you find questions relevant to your industry.

  • Site structure

Aim to organise the search questions you brainstorm into various categories that map out the customer journey. For example, it may be worth having FAQ pages in every main part of your website.

  • Structured data optimisation

Voice search only returns one answer from the best-optimised result. That means content must be relevant to that particular query.

To help, have pages that can easily be crawled, submit your sitemap to the Google Search Console and use a structured data mark-up. (This creates metadata for your content which informs Google what it’s about without affecting the way your content displays to users. It will boost your voice search results without directly affect regular rankings.) Check it using Google’s structured data testing tool.

  • Mobile-friendly is voice-friendly

Most voice searches are made from mobiles, so optimising for mobile is just good practice. That means optimising for local search results, being on top of your site speed etc.

  • Create Google Actions or Alexa Skills

These actions are basically software to expand Alexa’s or Google Assistant’s ability to interact with your content, or, if you have one, app. Make sure anything you create is optimised and useful to voice home assistant searchers.

Here to help

Voice search is still relatively new, growing and changing all the time. For example, Google is planning to add voice query data to its search console.

There’s no way of knowing the future impact of voice search. But it certainly seems here to stay. Keep an eye out for developments, and talk to us at Front Page with any questions you have. Remember, we’re here to help optimise your website for this exciting new development.