Hey Siri, what on earth is Voice Search Optimisation?
If you’ve ever used your voice to interact with interfaces like Siri, Cortana or Alexa, you’ve participated in voice search. In fact, 27% of the population utilise voice search on their mobiles, and with 119 languages available for voice search it’s safe to say that the vast majority of us have the ability to interact with our technology with our voice.
But what does the future hold for voice search optimisation? How will this technology develop? And what exactly is voice search in the first place? As part of our ongoing Marketing For The Future series, we’re going to be diving into the dynamics and outlook for voice search technology.
First – what exactly is voice search optimisation and how does it work? Voice Search Optimisation, often abbreviated to simply vSEO, is the process of optimising a website so it can be discovered through voice search queries. The type of queries typed into a search engine differ greatly from those asked via voice search, which therefore requires a different type of optimisation. The primary difference between vSEO and SEO lies within the more colloquial, conversational and natural language of voice search.
For example, those looking for a local weather forecast will likely embark on different routes to find this information by voice search than by written search. Our instincts when vocalising a search would be to ask “hey Siri, what’s the weather like near me today?”. On the other hand, someone searching for the local weather forecast by typing into a search engine would likely search for “weather”, “weather forecast” or “local weather forecast”. Ultimately, both queries will yield much the same result. However, the avenues taken to obtain this information differs depending on the nature of the query.
Understanding the dynamics of voice search may be interesting, but why should you spend your time and resources optimising for voice searches? And why should we care about the future of this search format?
At the time of writing, over one billion voice searches are conducted every month, and this number is set to increase further. In fact, use of of Amazon Alexa increased by 35% in 2022, and the projected number of voice assistants in use in 2024 is set to be 8.4 billion, which is double that of 2020. In short, if you’re not optimising for voice search, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to reach more people.
With typical typed search queries, customers will find your website in one of a few ways. They can search for your business online by utilising search engines, find your business via organic search results, or encounter your business through paid search ads. This differs significantly when it comes to voice search, which selects just one result to be fed back to the user rather than a more comprehensive list of options. As such, voice search optimisation doesn’t focus so much around ranking in the top 3, 10 or 20 search engine results like traditional SEO – you either rank first, or don’t get found.
Speaking of getting found, it is important to ensure that your content is optimised for voice search. Long tail keywords are specific and highly targeted search phrases that contain three or more words. They are more specific but have less search volume than regular keywords. These help serve niche, relevant content to those searching for it, and are used to help rankings for voice search queries by optimising for natural language patterns and conversational phrases. Long-tail keywords are more valuable because they are more likely to generate high-quality traffic with better customer intent, leading to more conversions.
When it comes to the future of voice search it is important to optimise your content for these long-tail keywords as well as your short-tail keywords. You can do this by including interrogative terms, or questioning terms, that consider the common types of questions people may ask on the topic. Here’s an example if you wanted to create a piece of content or web page about pugs:
Short-tail keyword: pugs
Who: Who owns pugs?
What: What do pugs look like?
When: When were pugs first bred?
Where: Where are pugs from?
Why: Why are pugs so popular?
Do: Do pugs shed a lot?
Are: Are pugs affectionate dogs?
By including these long-tail interrogative keywords and phrases, as well as the short-tail keywords you want to rank for, you will be able to optimise your content for both written and voice search.
It is evident that businesses need to start optimising for voice search by utilising the aforementioned long-tail keywords, interrogative phrases, and by understanding the natural language patterns utilised by end-users to ask queries. But how else will the landscape of voice search change?
Here at DGT, we don’t have a crystal ball with which to predict the future. However, one thing seems certain – closed marketing eco-systems will likely become even more popular in the years to come, which will have a tangible impact on voice search technology. By ‘marketing eco-system’, we are referring to a selection of products and websites, all of which are compatible with one another and refer to one another. For example, take Amazon. If you were to ask Alexa to recommend to you a speaker, she’d likely recommend an Echo speaker which – you guessed it – is an Amazon produced product. Which website would Alexa take you to if you wanted to purchase an Echo? You guessed again – Amazon! The likelihood of Alexa recommending a Google Nest smart speaker is incredibly low.
In the future, we expect to see more of these ‘closed systems’ of products, websites and recommendations. Many large brands will have their own voice activated interface, like an Alexa or Siri, their chosen marketplace to recommend products, and a set of recommended products that interact with one another. For voice searches for certain products that the brand themselves cannot supply, the brand will likely recommend an affiliate or sponsored product. This way, brands will make it more difficult for users to defect away from their brand by simply not recommending products that do not benefit them in some way.
vSEO is becoming increasingly important with the rise of smart speakers and voice assistants, such as Alexa, Google Home and Siri. That’s why it is so important to stay in the loop when it comes to voice search optimisation, as well as other forms of evolving technology. After all, the marketing space is experiencing innovation at a speed of knots – we’d all do well to stay on top of these new trends and technologies before we’re left behind.
That’s why DGT created our Marketing For The Future series, designed to give you all of the knowledge you need to adequately prepare for these trends and challenges. We’ve carefully designed this to keep you in the loop with all of the latest marketing innovations. From the development of team skills in the 21st Century, to the evolution of the Metaverse – we’ll be covering everything you need to know. Want to enlist the Demand Generation Team to help catapult your next campaign? Fill out the form below!
Posted by Jenna C on Thursday 31st August 2023