Having A Voice – The Importance of Spoken Search

Voice search, or the use of a spoken command to browse the internet, is predicted to account for 50% of searches by 2020, according to comScore, while nearly a third of searches are forecast to be made without a screen by the same year.

The relevant technology is improving constantly – last year, Google said the accuracy of its voice recognition was 95%, up 20% since 2013, meaning the gap with human dialogue is shrinking rapidly. Meanwhile, other statistics suggest that more than a billion voice searches are made monthly, while 40% of adults use voice search daily.

Equally, smart home devices, virtual assistants and other voice-first tech, including Alexa, Amazon Echo and Google Home (the smart speakers that allow you to speak commands via the intelligent personal assistant Google Assistant) really entered public consciousness last year. These devices are becoming more complex and incorporating more diverse skill sets all the time.

So there’s no doubt that spoken search is here to stay – and it’s become mainstream, with a subsequent potentially huge impact on SEO, in the same way that mobile search has mushroomed in recent years. (Incidentally, you still need to optimised for mobile as well.)

Although some queries are the same whether they’re typed or spoken, by understanding voice search, you can help browsers find precisely what they’re looking for.

And the differences between search types may affect the way you optimise a page.

The way someone searches can alter browsing behaviour. For example, some speech queries only work on Google Home and Assistant.

What’s more, voice search could change the way we advertise. Industry insiders are convinced both Amazon and Google could soon be making adverts are more organic part of the voice search experience.

There’s also evidence that voice search optimisation is linked to Google’s featured snippets, which hold the sought-after ‘position zero’ in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
So it’s perhaps not surprising that webmasters are asking Google to separate out voice search queries in Google Search Console, the service that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results.

If voice search isn’t part of your current SEO strategy, it probably should be. There are many things you can do to adapt for voice search, including creating robust, compelling content to answer searchers’ most frequently asked questions.

Equally, adopt long-tail keywords, optimised for semantic search. (These are the three and four-keyword phrases which are highly specific to what you offer.)
Create easy-to-read, clear content with a headline that asks a commonly asked question. Immediately after it, give a brief answer or definition. Over the rest of the page, provide further detail on the same topic.

Use Schema code (semantic vocabulary) to mark up content and tell search engines what your site’s about help the search engines return more informative results for users.
Think about how content is organised – and how it might sound out loud. Information displayed in a large table, or lists of links, for example, may not be suitable for Voice Assistant, or show up in voice-based searches.

It’s important not to over-optimise for voice search, but keep it in the forefront of your mind for your website.
We know this can seem a lot to take in. Talk to us at Front Page Advantage about optimising your website for spoken search today.