Get straight to the Key Concepts
Over the past couple years we have seen major improvements in the capabilities and popularity of voice search. 2017 accumulated some of the biggest usage rates yet, as well as new tech – we saw Google release “Home”, Amazon’s Echo continued to be a holiday favorite, voice search capabilities are in almost all smart phones, TVs and wearable devices. Apple is set to release their HomePod next Friday (February 9th), adding to the rising trend.
In a recent study by Campaign, it is estimated that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be by voice. So what does this mean for our SEO team, and, more importantly, the dealerships we are serving? How can we leverage this new tech and get your business in front of more people? In order to answer these questions, we must first know how voice search results work.
Featured Snippets and Answer Boxes
According to the most recent study by ROAST, about 80% of Google Home results come from snippets. These summaries or chunks of content are populated organically on SERPs based off a number of factors. To no surprise, many studies have shown that having a featured snippet raises website traffic. As always, it comes down to having well-written, readable, and helpful content. Google finds these results to be the most constructive so it shows them off a little more.
Answer boxes work in a similar way. When searching for help to calculate a possible car loan, you can see that an easy-to-use calculator populates the SERP. Unlike featured snippets, these results are not retrieved by a spider from an existing website. They do not drive you to any website. Answer boxes are made by Google alone, likely crafted because of high search volume and learning from intent.
“Hey Siri, where’s the nearest gas station?”
“Okay Google, when does Mudd Advertising close today?”
“Alexa, what’s the weather supposed to be like today?”
“Cortana, how do I get to Mudd Advertising?”
Voice search is often found to be longer than text but more straightforward. Responses often call for facts or narrowed amounts of information as compared to a lengthy explanation. As with all search, thinking contextually is key. Often the same keywords are used, whether it be from voice, desktop, mobile, or tablet search.
Data for voice search keywords is incorporated in all queries on the current Search Console platform. Filtering by voice device is not yet available. Search Engine Land first acknowledged in Spring 2016 that Google had hinted at adding voice search analytics to Search Console. Since then, they have continued to assert that it will be coming in the future. With the beta versions of the new Search Console rolling out now, let’s hope that this feature is added in 2018.
As mentioned before, voice queries tend to be longer than text. In-turn long-tail keywords may show up in research more frequently. Now more than ever, AI (artificial intelligence) used in search engines know the similarities and differences between keywords, queries, phrases, etc., all in order to best understand user intent. This is why many SEO professionals believe that long-tail keywords are obsolete.
Follow your keyword data! If long-tail keywords are shown to have high impressions, click-through-rates, etc., optimization for them remains important. This is doubly so as all of us, including Google, are continuing to use and learn from AI.
An FAQ page is a great way to take advantage of long-tail keywords and possible voice search queries. Create a page to answer all of the natural language questions that arise and include the most valuable, relevant information.
Mobile optimization helps us take advantage of voice searches, as well. Any queries executed on smartphones will take some different optimization factors into account. Some optimization practices for mobile include: responsive design, page speed, image optimization, and the use of structured data.
If they weren’t important enough already, business listings have stepped into the fold ever more. Similar to answer boxes and featured snippets, business listings are an easy avenue from which search engines can pull relevant data.
Consider the Google and Cortana intent examples from above. Whenever inquiring about a specific business for things like hours, directions, and services, having an accurate and up-to-date listing is vital. It is also still important to make sure your website corresponds. Giving search engines as much relevant and useful information about your business will help you get found!
– Even thorough search engines can recognize and combine or differentiate words/phrases, it is still important to follow your data and target keywords accordingly.
– Voice search is often done through a mobile device, so optimization for mobile search is crucial.
– Keeping an accurate and up-to-date listing helps search engines pull relievant data straight from the source.