The future of SEO: voice SEO

In this two-part series discussing the two newest forms of SEO, we’ve already looked at the rise of visual SEO. Now, we’re discussing voice SEO, which in some ways is more advanced than visual SEO thanks to the increasing use of voice-based assistants like Siri and devices like the Amazon Echo.

In fact, just last year there were 33 million voice search devices in circulation with an estimated 40% of consumers using voice search every day. By 2020, 50% of searches will be done through voice alone. It’s a growing trend that all businesses need to embrace. So, how do you get your SEO ready for voice search?

Search snippets

One of the major differences between voice search and traditional text-based search is that if a customer searches for something via voice, they will often be told a ‘featured snippet’ about the top-ranking results. This feature is currently offered by Google Home and Google Assistant.

If your listing is ranked in ‘position zero’ (which is the position above the usual number one ranking in search results) then a featured snippet will be read out. It pays to get this right, as almost 41% of all voice search answers came through a featured snippet.

It also benefits Google. The more useful information a featured snippet provides, the happier its users and the less likely they are to switch to Amazon Echo and co.

A good featured snippet is usually concise. After all, nobody wants their Google Home to spout off a 10 minute long essay. Aim for about 30 words in length.

Answer questions

Another way to get inspiration for your featured snippet is to use Answer the Public. Type in your subject area and you’ll find the most common questions related to it. Most people will ask their voice assistant a question to search, so this is a good starting point for your copy.

Keep it simple

Also keep your writing simple and easily digestible You don’t want jargon-heavy copy because customers might not understand what you mean. Lists also work quite well when read off by a voice assistant.

Keep your copy engaging and unique. This is basic SEO best practice, but it’s even more important with voice SEO. A whopping 99.58% of featured snippets come from a page that already ranks high in traditional SEO. So you need to ensure all your foundations are covered. Good content, optimised metadata and decent internal and external links are vital.

Voice SEO is conversational

Voice search is more conversational than written queries. If searching for a local Italian, you’re likely to type something like, “Italian restaurant Wandsworth” into a search bar. But if asking a voice assistant, you might say something like, “What’s the nearest Italian?” or “Tell me some Italian restaurants in Wandsworth.”

Therefore, your voice SEO needs to reflect this by using terms such as “Near me.”

Get mobile

If your website isn’t mobile-optimised, then you need to do this sharpish. Voice search often occurs via smartphones. If your website is offered as an answer by Siri et al, and if someone then clicks through to it, it needs to offer a good user experience. If your website isn’t mobile responsive then people will simply abandon it.

Page speed is of the essence. The average page load speed of a voice search result is 52% faster than the average web page. Make sure you make your website load as quickly as possible by reducing file size, HTTP requests and server response time (to name but a few techniques).

Local SEO is important

Prioritise your local SEO as well. 39% of voice search users are seeking business information like opening hours and reviews. Make sure your Google My Business Page is kept up-to-date as the search engine will use these details in voice search. If your information is missing or incorrect, then a potential customer could be told the wrong information and you could miss out on a sale.

Voice search is very instantaneous – people want to quickly find the relevant information and make fast decisions and actions. Simply filling in details like your phone number mean that people can find you, and click to call your company in just a few seconds.

Good online reviews can also help your local SEO and will help people decide between your business and other voice search results.

Basics first

Searching via voice and its related voice SEO is going to be increasingly common in the next few years. Part of preparing for this new form of SEO is to return to basics and ensure your SEO foundations are well-laid. Make sure your website is mobile responsive and that your load time is optimised. Fill in all your details on Google My Business. By doing these fundamental steps, you’ll be in a much better position when voice search really does hit the mainstream.