OK Google, you talking to me?

It’s time to talk about the incoming era of Voice Search – and how to prepare for it.

Getting your business ready for Voice SEO

There’s been a lot of excitement building over the last year about Voice Search, and the need to get your business website optimised for Voice SEO.

It’s been interesting to observe the tide coming in. After all, it seems that every year is the breakthrough year for one kind of technology or another: ‘This is the year of (insert doodad here)!’

The buzz about Voice Search has been no different. After all, most modern smartphones have digital assistants like Siri or Google Assistant that respond to spoken queries. The quirks of our AI ‘friends’ have often been cause for hilarity – or unsettling concern.

That’s all changing. Google has just announced their Google Assistant-powered smart display, the Home Hub, at their Made by Google event in New York. And with the accelerating market acceptance of voice-first devices for the home like Amazon’s Alexa-driven Echo, Sonos One and Apple’s HomePod, it seems as though the age of Voice Search really is at hand… and businesses are catching on.

Google Home Hub. Image by Google

Getting to Position Zero

Why? The simple answer is that these services are getting better at delivering results, and people are scrambling to be the authority relied upon to provide end users with the answers they’re seeking.

Plus, more and more young people are using Voice Search simply because it’s faster – by up to 52% over the average search result page, according to a Backlinko study – and works enough of the time to be of use to them, particularly if they’re after local services.

Since an increasing number of searches are now performed when mobile – or, in the case of home devices, while occupied doing other things – the need to optimise your SEO for voice becomes an even more important consideration for your website.

One key way of honing your SEO in this manner is to angle for the Featured Snippet (sometimes referred to as an ‘Answer Box’) on that crucial first page of search results – sometimes referred to as ‘Position Zero’.

Voice Search

In fact, the relationship between Position Zero and Voice Search is a close one indeed, and goes a long way towards putting Google’s recent release of a new speakable markup for news and content publishers into context.

That’s because if a digital assistant – and in particular, Google Assistant – responds to a voice query, it’s most likely going to pull that response from Position Zero, which sits atop the organic results and below the paid ad slots (or highlighted to the side in some way).

More talk, more doing

Understanding that relationship then becomes crucial for achieving better results in Voice Search.

Here’s where we’d advise you to start:

  • Optimise your website for speed AND HTTPS security across mobile and desktop
  • Get your local SEO up to date, including a verified and completed Google My Business Listing
  • Ensure you’ve got high quality, authoritative content that answers your customer’s possible queries in succinct, readable – even conversational – manner
  • Craft more long tail content that adds context for users
  • Use Structured Data / Schema markup, a semantic vocabulary of tags that helps search engines better understand and surface your site content
Apple-HomePod-Black-09122018_big.jpg.large. Image by Apple

Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong overlap between Voice SEO and traditional search optimisation – making sure your page loads fast, your keywords are utilised properly and your metadata is on point, etc. It especially helps if your site has a fantastic content, particularly an FAQ page that’s been optimised properly for Google’s algorithms.

Ready, set… amplify

But it goes beyond that, and is influenced by everything from the architecture of your site, to how responsive and helpful your social media team is and how much engagement is being generated on your social channels.

Because everything contributes to your visibility in search, and the more visible you are the better chance you’ll be recognised as an authority… meaning the more likely it is that your response will be served up via voice.

Voice SEO therefore is more about context and semantics, which is understandable given the natural language approach taken by people utilising voice search. And with voice searches estimated to constitute half of all searches by 2020, maybe it’s time to ask yourself: are you ready to warm up your voice, to let your business prospects sing?

Our SEO and content experts are all ears… so get your pocket AI to make the call, and let’s talk.

Voice Search
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It’s time to talk about the incoming era of Voice Search – and how to prepare for it.