Specialists predict that by 2020, user habits will have changed dramatically. Indeed, 30% of all searches could be done via voice search. SEOs are already working to understand the mechanisms behind voice search results. In SEO, anticipation is indeed the key to success. This is especially true for voice search, which directly affects content, which is the most time-consuming part of SEO.
What is voice search?
Voice search essentially allows users to dictate their search to their phone or tablet, rather than typing the keywords on a keyboard. The technology is able to understand what the user is saying with extreme accuracy. The answer is then provided verbally by the device and can be supplemented with traditional search results. Voice search is used by programs such as Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana (Microsoft) or Alexa (Amazon).
Devices like Google Home or Alexa are able to scan the Spotify music database, "read" Wikipedia or find a product on Amazon at the user's request. These performances demonstrate the benefits of optimizing our websites today so that they can meet the future expectations of users.
What is the impact of voice search on organic search results?
This new search mode is revolutionizing the user experience, which is why Search engines such as Google are placing more and more emphasis on voice search optimization. The goal of SEO is indeed to rank websites in a relevant way so that users can find the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. As of January 2018, there were as many as one billion voice searches per month worldwide, but voice search SEO and traditional SEO are still fundamentally different. Because of this, certain factors that influence site ranking may or may not have the same effect on voice search and vice versa. There is therefore a lack of clarity around voice search today, but you can already develop certain optimization strategies that will allow you to balance the two strategies: traditional and voice search.
How to optimize a website for voice search?
When people use voice search, they may have several intentions: to buy, to listen to music or watch a video or to find information on a topic. However, despite these different intentions, Google uses the same algorithm for its rankings.
Here are 6 recommendations to improve your positions on voice search.
Identify research intent
One of the first steps is to determine the search intent behind a voice command. Rather than relying on an impression, use tools such as Answer the public that will tell you what questions are being asked on a topic..
Focus on questions rather than affirmative sentences
When faced with ever more powerful programs, users tend to literally ask questions to their device, just as they would to a real person. Interrogative pronouns (how, where, why...), which used to seem meaningless, have now become indispensable.
When users search for content on their desktop or cell phone, they go straight to the point and prefer short sentences. For example, a user looking for a ranking of the best restaurants in Paris would type "best restaurants in Paris". But if they use voice search, they would say: "What are the best restaurants in Paris?”. In addition, these pronouns allow us to better target the user's search intent. A user who asks "how to ..." is looking for a guide or a tutorial on a specific subject.
Questions can also be a major asset in the race to position zero. Answering a need or a question is a great way to generate traffic through voice search.
Take care of your ergonomics
Ergonomics is today and more than ever a determining factor in organic ranking and for users. Just like traditional search engine optimization, Google voice search favors websites that load quickly. So you need to make sure your site is responsive and compatible with all mobile devices. To ensure your pages load quickly, you'll need to optimize and compress images and files, use caching, and reduce server response time. The The Google PageSpeed Insight tool will give you a comprehensive list of all the possible optimizations for your pages.
Optimize local SEO
Local SEO has conquered the web for several years. Search engines are seeing an increasing number of companies creating their own platforms with local search as the focus of their SEO strategy. When it comes to common voice searches, such as "what is the best sushi restaurant in ...?” users tend to search for establishments near their home or location. Optimizing your site for voice search gives you an advantage over the local competition and vice versa.
Use the long tail in short sentences
To ensure your content is optimized for voice search, you need to include long tail keywords that are more "natural" as opposed to shorter, catchier keywords that work better in traditional search results. Also, keep the sentences short and simple. So, even if your content is complex, break it down so that it becomes easy for anyone to understand.
NB: Even if short sentences should be preferred, the overall content should be consistent. Long articles are always ranked higher in voice search and traditional search lists. Aim for at least 1,000 to 2,000 words for competitive industries.
Aim for position zero
A featured snippet, also called a position zero, or quick response, is a summary of a web page. In desktop search listings, these snippets appear just after paid ads but before organic search listings. To stack the odds in your favor, include a concise summary of your main content above the text, about 29 words (average word count in position zero). Paragraphs that use Hn tags, lists and bullets are easily readable by Google and work well too. Also, be sure to include your long tail keywords among the keywords used.
So, voice search seems to be part of the future of SEO and it is best to prepare for it now. By implementing these few effective tips, you will be able to use voice search to your advantage and stay ahead of your competitors. You must keep in mind that natural language has become essential for the robots to understand your page, which means you must create more "conversational content". The latter should answer specific questions with accurate answers, which you can further enrich with structured data.