The future of search: voice optimisation

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Even though voice search is growing in popularity at a regular rate, many search marketers still do not have a plan for this type of search. One concern for many working in the SEO industry, is how they will optimise searches around the one in five who choose to use their voice, and how to apply content and context that matches such a conversational type of search, to match the reliability of manual text queries in Google.

Being able to adopt a growing trend

Within our everyday lives, even though you may not have noticed it, we use virtual assistants that help to compose messages with our voice, listen to emails, or control our in-car systems. Although it appears that consumers are keen to make the change to voice command, marketers don’t appear to as keen.

Conducted by BrightEdge, research has suggested that 31% of those surveyed believe that voice search and queries are the next big thing; however, 62% believe that they have no plan in regards to how they will optimise searches that are conversational when used through this technology. If those working in SEO are to stay ahead of the trend, then a long-term plan regarding how to respond to voice-lead search should be implemented now, rather than later.

Understanding intent and context

Understanding the intent of a user’s search, and leveraging intent signals are crucial to understanding and optimising accordingly for this type of search, because these searches are conversationally driven by their very nature when consumers use their voice.

Current data on this issue would also suggest the importance of context and intent; as Google reports, 70% of those using Google Assistant speak to their device as though they were another person, by using natural language.

This is unlike the way users would utilise their text box in a search engine, as manual text searches are more specific and more considered in the way that keywords are placed semantically within the search engine.

The outcome of this will be that new meanings, and new search results will arise from the conversational way in which users of this new platform will begin to utilise voice-driven search. In this way, searches are becoming more focused around ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ types of queries, as well as searches that are driven more towards actions, which dynamically changes the way queries will be optimised in order to gain the most relevant search results for consumers.

The key to success

Although those working in SEO can’t truly understand the impact of voice-search just yet, there are four key considerations that can be utilised to help master how this type of search will change the way users interact with search engines.

Conversational intent

Keep in mind that voice-driven queries differ from traditional forms of search based queries. The former is more conversational than the latter, so it’s important to think of searcher intent dependent upon the type of question-based queries users will inevitably ask. Based on the anticipated context of the search, it’s important to deliver more accurate results as a result of this fact.

Targeting long-tail searches

When it comes to targeting keywords within a search query, long-tail phrases that include ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ are important due to their conversational nature. What this means, is that long-tail phrases should include these types of phrases, so that they match to content that answer these types of questions; onsite content then, should be tailored around these longer-tail keyword phrases (organic and paid) to maximise the impact of a user’s search.

Utilise semantics by structuring content

Content, although not always, should be written in a more conversational tone, which helps to capture natural-language processing when a user utilises voice-search. When consumers use their phone to search, structured data markup onsite should appeal to long-tail topics as part of a variety of content, which help to answer user’s questions when using voice-search.

Consider mobile content

The overlap is clear between voice-driven searches and mobile devices. Therefore, content should always be optimised for mobile devices, and it should also be optimised for speed; with a mobile-friendly layout, this means content will be valuable for consumers using voice-search on a mobile device. The key to remember, is that if content is optimised for mobile, it is on its way to being optimised for voice.

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