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The Impact of Voice Search for SEO

There has been a sharp increase in voice search queries being carried out instead of the traditional typed search queries. Voice search is now the fastest growing search technique for users, since it has many benefits for people. It is quicker, easier and more natural to speak to your mobile rather than having to manually type in the keyword(s) you require.

According to a recent post featured on Google’s Official Blog, more than half of teens aged 13-18 use voice search on a daily basis and 41% of adults are doing so too. The most common types of search queries being made by voice include:

  • Asking for directions.
  • Dictation of texts.
  • Calling a person.
  • Help with homework or research.
  • Finding out film showing times.
  • Playing a song.
The Impact of Voice Search for SEO

An infographic produced by Net Sixty Six to highlight the impact of voice search on SEO.

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As the rise of mobile users sees more and more people owning Smartphones, there are many different voice programs installed which make the job of performing searches much more efficient to carry out – and effective too. Apple uses SIRI, whereas Microsoft features Cortana and Amazon uses Alexa. Google recently launched their very first Smartphone called the Pixel, the first phone to use their voice-based Assistant built in.

When typing in a phrase for a search, people tend to shorten the number of keywords, for example “SEO Manchester.” However, this is not mirrored by how we actually speak in a conversation, when we would be more likely to use a more sentence-like query, such as “Find an SEO agency based in Manchester.”

Search engines have been refining their algorithms over the years and Google’s Hummingbird update was aimed at improving “conversational search”, where people are using long-tail search queries (where many keywords are used together, as opposed to just one or two). Traditional search engines would look to find matches of the keywords in text on other websites whereas nowadays, they understand a user’s intent, with the whole query being taken into account.

What does voice search mean in terms of SEO?

When voice search was starting to evolve, there were widespread rumours that SEO was dead, since the short tail keywords could no longer be targeted in the same way, by incorporating them into existing content effectively. However, the focus has also been on the longer tail keywords, which are performed by users who are already at the advanced stages of their decision-making.

SEO specialists need to focus on both searchers who are researching and also wanting to obtain fast responses to their query, with instant results. Pages which are designed to meet the user’s needs have been favoured by Google so a page which includes in-depth answers to questions that start with “What is”, “Where is”, “Who is” and “How” will feature more prominently.

It is still relatively early days for voice search and we simply do not have enough data gathered to properly understand the role it plays on the web marketing world. The rise will continue further for instant answers being shown without search results. Search Engines’ algorithms will continue to improve their understanding of query data and user intent.

Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, said in a Whiteboard Friday on this topic:  “in the future I think we’re actually going to be looking for keyword research tools that can perform a voice query and then can tell us what the results either look like or sound like from the engine.” He goes on to  sound a word of caution on purely focusing on voice search over traditional search data, since both sets of data have continued to rise – it’s just that voice search has risen faster.

Essentially, there is still a need for both to be included in any digital Marketing strategy until we can all try and figure out the impact together, as an industry.

Net Sixty Six SEO, 08 November 2016

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