Is your site optimised for Google Voice Search?
What is Google Voice Search
Google Voice Search is the function, built in to Google Search, that allows desktop or mobile users to search for information using spoken instructions rather than typing.
The function is usually activated by either clicking on a microphone icon within the search bar or by using the wake phrase, 'OK, Google.'
The rising trend in voice search queries
The following statistics highlight the growing popularity of voice search technology:
- According to Mary Meeker's annual internet trends report, Google Voice Search grew sevenfold between 2018 and 2016.
- Andrew Ng of Baidu predicts that by 2020, half of all queries will be spoken rather than typed.
- One in five Android search queries uses Google Voice Search.
So what are people using Google Voice Search for?
Currently, the most popular action is not actually search related. Google Voice Search is mainly being used to make calls to telephone numbers stored on the device. However, its integration into Google Assistant, Google Maps and various apps (e.g. Shazam, Telegram, TripAdvisor, WhatsApp and Viber) is likely to increase users' familiarity with the technology and stimulate more search-related activity as time goes on.
Therefore, business owners should take the opportunity now to ensure their websites are voice-ready.
Why optimise for voice search?
To understand why optimisation is necessary, we need to look at how voice search queries differ from typed queries.
Since the Hummingbird update, Google has become much smarter at using the context of a search query to improve the accuracy of its results. As AI technology continues to advance, this ability will only become more refined.
Google Voice Search can already use complex voice recognition and Natural Language Processing (NLP) systems to interpret voice instructions. For example, it can use previous queries to 'remember' what the user's intention is, allowing for more natural conversation-like interaction.
For example, if you ask the question, 'Who was Abraham Lincoln,' you will get (at the time of writing this article), the audio response, 'According to Wikipedia, Abraham Lincoln was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 16th President of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.'
If you then ask, 'When did he die?' Google remembers who you are talking about and responds, 'He died on April 15th, 1865.'
As people, including your customers, become used to conversing normally with Google Voice Search, they will start searching for goods and services using everyday language. So whereas they may have once typed, 'garage in Plymouth free air,' to find somewhere to pump up their car tyres, they will be more likely to use the phrase, 'Find a garage near me that provides free air,' when using voice search.
How to optimise for voice search?
Optimising for Google Voice Search is as much about catering for how people search as it is for what they are searching for. First, it is important that your website is fully optimised for mobile devices with a responsive design and fast load speed.
If you are most likely to attract local custom, local SEO is also important. For example, you should have a clear and prominent NAP (name, address, phone number) profile which is consistent across directories. You should also get a free Google Business profile and keep it updated, using images of your premises if relevant.
In terms of website content, rather than writing lengthy pages which include various keyword combinations, optimising for voice search is about providing short, easy to understand answers to relatively long questions.
A common piece of advice is to add or edit a Frequently Asked Questions page to cover as many of these questions as possible. Very helpful and concise answers to popular questions may even reward you with an audio response and/or a prominent place on Google's coveted 'position zero.'
When it comes to pay-per-click advertising, there is another bonus. Optimising for long-form questions tends to cost less and deliver a better click-through-rate.
The website answerthepublic.com is a good source for relevant questions although simply typing the start of a question into the Google search bar will generate popular auto-completed endings. For example, the root, 'Which garages' generates the endings, 'sell Adblue', 'sell lpg', 'provide free air' and 'have free air.'
If you do sell Adblue and provide free air, adding the questions, 'Do you sell Adblue' and 'Do you provide free air,' to your FAQs, together with a concise answer, is likely to help you rank for local searches.
These are just a few suggestions for getting your site voice-ready. If you are looking for specific advice about readying your site for the voice-search revolution, ask your phone to "Call Eyes Down Digital".