By Communications Strategist Jennifer Boes
Voice search is the wave of the future.
According to media measurement and analytics company comScore, half of all internet searches will be done by voice by the year 2020. The number of households that own smart speakers will also grow exponentially. Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, estimates about 13 percent of U.S. households currently have a smart speaker. By 2022, that number is expected to increase to 55 percent.
Google Voice Search, Siri, Alexa and Cortana are all examples of voice search services. Each enables users to seek information on the World Wide Web by speaking into a mobile phone, tablet, computer, or smart speaker. All rely on speech recognition software to translate your words into a “language” a computer can understand and, in turn, provide relevant search results. Significant improvements in this software – making results much more accurate – is one of the key factors driving the usage increase.
Unlike internet queries typed into a search box, voice searches are conversational in nature. For example, if you were seeking a great seafood meal in New York City you might type in “top seafood restaurants, NYC.” If you were searching by voice, you would say something like, “What are the best seafood restaurants in New York City?”
Voice-driven searches work best when you are seeking quick snippets of information – the weather forecast, the name of a favorite film you can’t recall or the telephone number to your favorite take-out joint. According to a recent Backlinko study, the typical Google voice search result is only 29 words in length.
People are likely to use voice search when they are trying to find something in the town or city where they happen to be at the time: restaurants, shopping, attractions, ATM machines, gas, parking, etc. If you are any type of business or organization that welcomes customers to a physical location, you definitely want to make sure your website is optimized for voice searches.
Voice search technology is still developing, and it will be exciting to see what advances in this area are on the horizon. Here are five simple steps you can follow now to engage consumers:
- Write the way people talk.
Incorporate longer phrases written in conversational tone into your web copy, including questions phrased the way a person would speak them. A great tool for this is www.answerthepublic.com. This free service enables you to type in a series of keyword statements relevant to your audience and then generates a series of content suggestions based on those keywords in the form of questions.
- Keep content simple.
According to a recent Backlinko study, the average Google voice search result is written at a 9th grade level.
- Cater to Your Users.
Use Google Analytics to research the types of queries your website visitors are making. By analyzing search phrases, you can tell what the majority of those visiting your site want and craft voice-search-friendly copy to meet that need.
- Use local keywords.
When people are on the go, they’re often seeking fast answers about something nearby. Boost your chances of turning up in these types of voice searches by adding more localized content, such as the city, state or region where you are located.
- Optimize your Google My Business listing.
A good My Business Listing can help users find you when they are doing “near me” type voice searches. Make sure all listed information is correct and full of as much accurate detail as possible. Also make sure you’ve selected a category for your business because this is one of the ways Google determines what listings best match what a user is searching for.
The voice search craze has the potential to completely change the way we think about SEO. As the technology and search algorithms continue to become more and more sophisticated, it’s important to stay on top of these advancements. For further reading, marketer Neil Patel (www.neilpatel.com) has some great blog posts on the subject. Forbes.com contributor Jayson DeMers and the Forbes Technology Council have also recently published a series of helpful articles on the rise of voice search.