Optimising your site for voice search: It’s time to listen up

February 4, 2021
Hot topics 🔥
Design & UX Insights
Paula Ferrai
Optimising your site for voice search: It’s time to listen up

Does every brand need a voice strategy? Do they all need to optimise their website for voice search? With the dramatic rise in the use of digital assistants, we think so.

Google’s voice search technology is changing the way people look for information and as a result, is transforming the way businesses approach their marketing. Put simply, the average person can type around 30–40 words per minute and can speak close to 150 in the same time period. This allows users greater specificity with less hassle.

In order to pivot along with this new technology adored by early adopters, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of what voice search is, what it entails and how it works. From here you are able to make more informed marketing decisions which utilise this revolutionary technology as it is seen as the way of the future — so best get used to it and make it work for you.

A bit of context

Back in 2013, Google took a giant leap towards targeting semantics in a user’s search. This came in the form of an algorithmic update to their search engine, aptly named Google Hummingbird. This powerful tool made it possible to understand and process a user’s intent and the contextual meaning of their queries through semantic search. This resulted in a radical shift for marketers who now had to address the user’s pain points rather than simply cram as many keywords into their copy and content.

Understanding the mechanics

Keyword research won’t find phrases easily, if at all. So it is crucial your SEO strategy reflects the new way users are utilising this new technology. Voice search is more likely to contain question phrases that are more conversational in tone. It utilises tools for natural language phrases to get an idea of the manner in which your audience speaks, then market towards it. Google natural language processing can interpret a user’s intent by the way they phrase their queries. For instance, what and who implies the user is still in the research phase, whereas terms like when and where shows they are closer to a purchase.

People-based marketing

With Google’s highly advanced natural language processing (NLP) which learns more about a user with each interaction, the development of people-based marketing is taking the lead in the targeted marketing game. This marketing methodology allows marketers to target users based on who they are by learning their behaviour, the way they speak and their interests.

As Google’s NPL advances we are able to see just how sharp it’s targeted, personalised marketing is becoming. This is achieved by monitoring our shopping habits, browsing history and now even our voices to provide us with our own personalised adverts to make shopping more simple and user-friendly.

Through Google Analytics you are able to find what keywords people use to find your content. With this valuable information, you can start piecing together an idea of the semantic nature of their searches and incorporate it into your content and website copy. Over 20% of voice searches are for localised content.

This basically means that people use voice search more while on the go searching for ‘near me’ content. ‘Near me’ content is when a user is searching for shops, services and entertainment options situated close to them — meaning people’s search results will differ depending on location. You can optimise your SEO for this in a few simple yet highly effective ways: you can add the phrase ‘near me’ in your titles, internal links, meta description and anchor text; use phrases people use to describe your specific neighbourhood and location, and; mention or reference local landmarks in your area.

As it stands both teens and adults use voice search primarily for making calls and getting directions. People want immediate and specific results. Get your content to the top of the search result by answering your customer’s questions.

Although Google is a highly sophisticated search engine with its natural language processing with machine learning technology, it is still important to make it easier for Google to find relevant information about your business on your website. As stated above, the most common voice search queries often relate to directions, locations, opening and closing times and specific queries regarding products or services.

Make your location, contact details and opening and closing times easily available for Google to find and make a search result. This may sound elementary but you would be surprised at how many businesses take this for granted and don’t allocate enough time and energy into the basics like this.

Think about what typical questions your customers will invariably ask about your business, product or service and what language they are most likely to use during a search. You may know your business inside out and think you have all bases covered but it often takes someone who has no idea about your business to ask a seemingly rudimentary question which you haven’t catered for to make you realise how present or concealed your information is. Failure to do this may impact negatively on your search result success. So make your service or product’s unique selling point clear and concise.

Final thoughts

Of course, voice search functionality which uses natural language processing via machine learning are highly complex and dense technologies. This article is not intended to provide granular detail about the processes and functionalities of these technologies but rather to provide you with a brief understanding of the mechanics of the processes and how you can optimise traffic to your site by utilising adaptive, targeted SEO catered to voice search. The internet is awash with more detailed steps on how you can optimise your site for voice search. However, understanding the process and knowing that it is quickly becoming the standard is the first step.

When you understand the process and are able to create informed, targeted marketing strategies utilising voice search technology you will set your business up for the future. Happy adapting!

Paula Ferrai

Paula leads our Marketing & Communications team. She’s a brand strategy expert and is perpetually excited about connecting the dots. She loves scuba-diving, yoga, and having fun with her son.

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