As the demand for seamless connectivity is growing, our appetite for information has also become more voracious. To accommodate this growing demand, giant tech companies have turned to voice recognition technology to assist us in our everyday life. Also known as voice search, this novelty has evolved from a nifty convenient tool on mobile smartphones—notably Apple’s Siri—to a standalone device like Alexa. From simple fact-checking online to finding nearby restaurants to eat, the use of voice search has become a raving phenomenon that has swept across generations.
The Market for Voice Search
Don’t take our words for it, however. A study by comScore has found that 50% of all online searches would have been conducted through voice searches by 2020. A similar trend is also shown in the use of desktop computers, with voice search representing 25% of all searches on Windows 10 Taskbar. But, here’s more. Two other separate studies have echoed the sentiment, showing that two in five adults at least use voice search once daily—with individuals ages 26-35 accounting for the highest percentage of smart home device owners.
We are already aware of the booming popularity of voice search. But how exactly are consumers using such technology in their day-to-day activities?
The search engine giant Google has recently looked into how different age demographics are using the voice search. Statistically, while people of all ages are utilising the technology to enable multitasking, from cooking to watching television, teens are more likely to explore new angles for its use. For example, 30% of teens are using voice search to play a song as compared to only 11% of adults. Accounting for 31%, they’re also using voice search to help with their homework. On average, teens consistently score higher across types of activities except for text dictation, which is occupied by adults at 39%.
With all the functionalities and added convenience that the technology has offered, businesses must start thinking about how they can optimise their branded websites for easy discovery through voice search.
And here’s how:
Avoid Keyword Stuffing:
While it’s tempting to use all possible relevant keywords in your content to improve its discoverability, quite the contrary, keyword stuffing can actually hurt your site’s ranking. Once hailed as the holy grail of SEO (search engine optimisation), keyword stuffing is the legacy of the time where search engines still strictly relied on keyword matching to cater results to the users.
But times have changed, and Google—alongside other search engines—has moved away from such a rigid filtering process to a more organic indexing method, which focuses on bringing highly personalised web browsing experience to users.
Leveraging artificial intelligence like natural language processing, modern search engines have now become more adept at recognising human-level syntax and speech patterns in the keywords. For businesses, this means that they must optimise their content based on the specific demographics that they want to target.
Long-tail keywords — as the name suggests—are search terms and phrases that are longer than your typical search query. It is one of the most effective strategies you can apply when it comes to optimising for voice search as such queries tend to be overlooked by most of your online competitors. As a result, these queries yield more specific search results, increasing the likelihood of your website to be indexed higher on search engines. While they’re definitely less popular than their shorter counterparts currently, their importance should not be disregarded. A study by Hit Tail has found that 70% of search queries online consist of long-tail keywords—indicating their growing prominence in the future.
Another advantage of using long-tail keywords is that such queries are incredibly fitting for voice search since they are typically formulated in a spoken and conversational tone. Bidding for long-tail keywords in ad space is also cost-efficient as they are significantly cheaper, yet able to produce higher click-through rates than shorter queries.
Understand user intent through question-related queries:
Thanks to greater access to information online, most users have grown accustomed to communicating with their devices much more naturally when browsing the web. In 2015, a behavioural study conducted by Blue Nile Research delved into the methods on how online users are typing in their queries on search engines. The results of the study had found that 27% of online users prefer to phrase their queries in the form of a question, with How leading by 38% over other question types.
Although this number is still small relative to that of a non-question search format, the growing chunk of online users who use question-based queries can be an excellent asset for more personalised online marketing. More importantly, however, question-based queries are more likely exhibited by consumers using voice search.
So, the next time you are creating content online, you must also be mindful of what type of questions that your target consumers will likely use to discover the value offerings you provide. Knowing the answer to this will allow you to optimise your website better for voice search.
Despite the growing popularity of portable voice recognition devices, mobile smartphones are still the mainstay of voice search technology, with about one in five adults reporting such use at least once monthly. Voice search on mobile is also popular among young adults aged 16 to 24, accounting for 25% of overall consumers.
These statistics further suggest that businesses must ensure that their websites are well-optimised for mobile devices to assist prospects who utilise voice search in navigating the websites easily. Moreover, while there are no standardised designs for voice search yet, it is important to note that mobile optimisation typically contains the same metadata utilised for voice recognition.
Luckily for you, there are plenty of online tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to help you check the mobile optimality of your website. Such tools are able to spot the faults in your current design, from font issues and mismatched content template to jarring placements of links.
Localise your content for easy discovery:
Voice search has grown in popularity, mainly due to the ease of use as compared to typing—allowing users to access information with high precision and less effort. 61% of users in the US have admitted that voice search is incredibly useful for navigational queries and call functions. As such, most users are using this technology to help them connect with businesses in their locality, particularly while they’re preoccupied with tasks that necessitate great concentration and high mobility, like driving. Due to the nature of such activities, we can easily surmise that the vast majority of such queries are coming from mobile devices.
Optimising your website for local search, therefore, is a great way to help nearby customers discover your business easily. A study by Search Engine Watch supports this supposition—showing mobile voice-related queries are three times more likely to be localised as compared to text-related queries.
Google Trends has reported that location-based queries with the keyword “near me” have grown exponentially for the past five years, reaching its highest peak in 2020 by more than eight times its original value in 2015.
So, how can you optimise content localisation for your website then?
Always be sure to update your Google My Business page with the correct name, opening hours, street address, and other pertinent information. If you haven’t had one, now it’s the right time to make it!
Incorporate the region where your company operates in your metadata and content.
For better local SEO, use a keyword or phrase that specifies your location in one of the webpages or sections of your branded website.
Add visuals taken from the nearby vicinity of your business. Don’t forget to add the appropriate alt-text for better indexing!
Be sure to tag images and videos of places featured on your website with names or links to their locations.