Yes, talking to your device is now a thing.
We are in 2018 and more than 20% of search queries are voice search and some are done without a screen. Yes, even in New Zealand.
But did you notice what happen when people are searching from Google Home, Alexa, Siri or Cortana?
Only one answer is provided to the user. There’s no paid result here.
And as a brand, you’re hoping that your content will be picked up by search engines.
I have good news! Voice Search SEO is not different than traditional SEO, in fact doing SEO can help you being there!
Let’s talk about Voice Search, what is it, why it’s here to stay and most importantly how brands can leverage it.
- What is Voice Search?
- Why Voice Search is here to stay (Until Human Brain Interface 🙂 ) and why Brands should care about it?
- Voice Search is a natural evolution of Search
- Voice Ecommerce
- How does Voice Search works?
- How do people search using Voice?
- Why Google Actions and Alexa Skills are not right for most brands
- How to be ready for Voice Search?
What is Voice Search?
Voice Search is the technology that allows users to search on Google and other search engines by speaking to their devices, smartphones or smart speakers.
While Voice recognition technologies are around for years now, improvement in machine learning, linguistic and semantic played an important role to increase machine understanding capabilities.
And then in 2017, Google Voice technology reach 95% word accuracy rate for the English language.
Which make it now possible to have a frictionless experience with Voice Search and other assistants. Enough to get people using Voice Search every day.
Why Voice Search is here to stay (Until Human Brain Interface 🙂 ) and why Brands should care about it?
Remember 2013 were everyone was talking about Mobile SEO. Today, and today, some are still lagging behind.
If you don’t want this to happen to you, well, you should know that Voice Search is not a fad, it’s here to stay.
In the last quarter of 2017, 18 million smart speakers devices have been shipped out, which brought the overall installed base to 45 million units.
In 2017 Q4 alone, 18 million smart speaker devices were shipped out, which brought the overall circulation total to 45 million devices.
Google Home speakers outsell Amazon Echo in first quarter of 2018.
Experts predict that 50% of the search queries will be voice based in 2020 and even more impressing, that 30% will be done without a screen.
Voice Search is a natural evolution of Search
Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple want to improve your experience and it appears that Voice reduces frictions by improving human interaction with machines. Voice is hand and vision free.
Asking things with your voice is much faster than typing on your keyboard, and this means you’ll get your answer faster too.
- Average handwriting speed: 13 words per minutes (source)
- Average typing speed: 33 words per minutes (source)
- Average conversational speed: 150 words per minutes (source)
No surprise, among the top reasons why people use voice we can find :
- it’s useful when hands and vision is occupied
- it’s faster
- it’s easier than typing
As always, brands should be where users are.
Voice Search is a great opportunity for brands who are ready to invest, and a threat to others.
While it’s quite straightforward for Amazon Alexa as you buy directly from Amazon, shopping on Google is still a grey area.
We know that in the US Google recently launched Express Shopping in partnership with Walmart which allow users to buy what they want in a similar way that Alexa can do it.
How does it work?
Say, “Hey Google, buy Tide Pods from Walmart.”
Google Home: “Okay. Here’s something from Walmart on Google Express. I can get 81 Spring Meadow Tide Pods for $19.97. Would you like to order that?”
Google Home: “Okay, the total including tax and a $5.99 service fee is $27.66. You can get free delivery by adding items to your cart and checking out on your phone. Should I place the order?”
Google Home: “Okay, you’re all set. Your order will arrive by Friday.”
Will this program be open to more retailer?
Probably but I think It’s time for the battle of the Titans, Google + Walmart VS Amazon.
My advice is that brands should partner with one or the other to be future proof their business.
How does Voice Search works?
You can weather click on the microphone icon of your app or if your device is Voice Search enabled you just have to say “Ok Google-“, “Hey Alexa” or “Hey Cortana” followed by your query.
The search engine will then analyze your question using machine learning, speech recognition, and natural language processing technology. Then, it will serve you the most appropriate answer.
Most of the time, Google pull these answers from Position 0, Knowledge Panel, Google MyBusiness, or other Google services.
In the example I gave above “Ok Google, how many countries are there in the World?” we can see here that Google have pulled this answer from Position 0.
Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning
NLP is a technology that enables computers to process large amounts of data into a natural language. It combines syntax, linguistic, semantic, discourse, and speech.
Since 2013, SEO focus on Semantic.
What is Semantic Search?
Semantic is the science of understanding the meanings of words. Semantic search uses semantic techniques to improve search engines accuracy by understanding user intent and context.
With the release of Google Algorithm Hummingbird back in 2013, Google have with the help of SEOs organized data all around the web to have a better understanding of natural language (This is why HTML tags and Structured data are important).
Hummingbird gave Google the capability to understand the meanings of words with LSI technology, Latent Semantic Indexing.
This technology helps Google to understand the context of a query to deliver more relevant results.
Thanks to this technology, Google was able to deliver rich results that we are now familiar with such as: recipes snippets, knowledge graph and position 0.
How do people search using Voice?
We are in the age of Assistance.
People are looking for help and things you know every day. The brands that will win tomorrow will be the one that are willing to give away their knowledge to help users.
With Voice Search, people tend to ask questions like if they were talking to someone rather than using keywords.
According to Brightlocal, 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information in the last 12 months.
Local business information are generated from Google My Business, this is why it’s important to have an up to date listing. It’s FREE!
Why Google Actions and Alexa Skills are not right for most brands
There is another way to leverage Voice.
Creating your own Skill or Action.
While it can be the easiest way for brands to have a presence, most people are not using third-party skills/ actions, and worst, if you are not Uber or something that people use everyday, the retention rate is close to 0.
According to Activate. 65% of users haven’t yet enabled a third-party skill.
And once they find a skill, there’s only a 6% chance that the user will continue using that voice app within two weeks, according to a September 2017 report from VoiceLabs.
This is a fad, similar to what happened with Mobile Apps a few years ago. (It’s now time for Progressive Web Apps!)
This is not a natural way to engage with Smart Speakers.
People want things to be native “Ok Google, what foods are good for my skin?” rather than “Hey Google, can I talk to Liv at Estee Lauder? What foods are good for my skin?”.
It’s certainly a good way to impress your friends but I don’t think your CEO will be happy with only a few users…
Most people are just asking Google, and to be Google answer, you need to do SEO on your website.
How to be ready for Voice Search?
If you are already doing SEO, you might be Voice Search proof as good rankings mean high chance to appear on Voice.
Indeed, according to Brian Dean (Backlinko), nearly 75 percent of voice results on Google Home “came from a page ranking in the top 3 for that keyword.”
Dozens of factors can influence your organic rankings: the structure of your website, the quality of your content, semantic and more.
If you want a chance to be present in the voice search results you need to work on it now, SEO is a long process, it doesn’t happen overnight.
Here are a few things to work on right now to get more chance to rank at the top of page one and maybe get to position 0.
1. Setup/ Update your Google My Business page
18% of Voice search queries are local searches.
Google pull local search results from its own directory, Google My Business.
Google My Business is not only important for Voice Search but for Search in general.
Opening hours, addresses, phone numbers, make sure everything is correct and up to date to ensure your customers have a seamless experience with your brand.
2. Understand what people are Searching for
As we know people tend to ask questions, we should look at what they are in order to create content we need for each of them.
There are a lot of great tools out there to help us discover what people are searching for.
My favourites one are Google Keyword Planner, Brightedge, Ubersuggest, and Answer the Public.
Another great way to discover what people are searching is just to look straight into Google.
The “People also ask” box is a gold mine.
You can learn a lot about what people are searching there.
3. Work on your page speed
You might wonder what is the link between the load time of your page and Voice search.
Well, people are often using voice search with a screen and Google want to provide a consistent experience across devices.
And who like to wait?!
A fast loading page is more likely to rank high on Google and get position 0 (Google even wrote an article about using Page Speed as a ranking factor in their Webmaster Blog). Which makes it more likely to be picked up by Google Voice.
The great thing about page speed is that it will also improve your conversion rate.
Here are a few tips to optimize your page speed:
- First of all, test your page using Google Page Speed
- Compress your pictures using Compressor.io
- Enable Gzip compression
- Leverage browser caching
- Minify your CSS and JS file
- Consider using Google AMP
- Consider using Progressive Web App
- There is more way to optimize your page speed but it requires more technical knowledge. We can dig into that together.
There is definitely more to say but I need to keep some information to help my clients dominate the search results 🙂
Thanks for reading and if you have any question or tips that you’d like to share feel free to post a comment below 👇🏼
Some good and related reads about Voice Search