We have a bad habit in the SEO community. We try to be over-prepared for everything. For many of us, backlinks are dead but then again when it comes to reality, backlinks still work. For a lot of us, PBNs got slammed in 2013. Again when I look at internet marketers of 2018, I see a lot of ’em using PBNs and using them effectively.
Now, is voice SEO a hoax? Or is it going to dominate the SEO world soon?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, we don’t know the answer yet but if I look at the trend, it sure seems like voice is the future. Sit tight. We are gonna analyze everything in this mega article.
Voice SEO: How to Optimize Your Website For Voice Search
Now, before we get into the practical stuff, let me simply tell you why I think voice is going to play a major role in the SEO community in near future. Once we are done with that, I will also be telling you how to optimize your website for voice search in 2018.
Why Voice SEO?
You see, though we like complexing stuff, the idea behind SEO still remains pretty straight forward. People search stuff and you make sure that your website is on top of that search result on Google. That’s SEO.
Now, what if people are not even looking at the search result? What if people are only listening to the voice of the assistant (Alexa of Amazon, Siri of Apple, AI of Google)? Will the voice recite all 10 results of the first page with the meta descriptions for you to again ask the bot to click one of them?
What will happen is, the assistant will automatically decide where to take you based on your search query that you performed via voice.
According to what we see now, they take you to the first result or the google snippet if there’s an available one. That’s 9 other results wasted on the first page. Doesn’t matter if you are on the second position or not, the assistant is not going to talk about you which means that you don’t exist.
Let’s take it one step forward.
Did you notice that Google has started to show you the answer right on the search page instead of taking you to a particular website?
I bet, you did.
Let me show you a few quick examples. Suppose, I want to know the age of Tom Cruise. I go ahead and Google “age of Tom Cruise”. Here’s what I see:
For the SEO nerds out there, this keyword “age of tom cruise” has 74,000/month search volume and no, no website takes these traffic because Google tells it directly on the result page.
Remember the days when Google used to be a directory of websites?
Well, they are not anymore. They do way more than that. From telling you the time to weather, to the basic information about Tom Cruise, Google does everything.
I understand your question though. How is this relevant to the voice SEO industry?
You see, when you do these same searches with voice using an assistant, that assistant recites these exact information. Think John, think.
If you are not going to a website once Google shows you the result of your query right on spot, will you be visiting one when you are away from your laptop/cellphone and an assistant is telling you the answer?
That’s where the fear comes from.
Now we need to think about another angle. Will people actually use voice instead of the regular laptop and cellphone that we are used to today? Will smart assistants take over everything?
Is voice search something important to think about?
You see, whether you agree or not, voice is definitely where the world is moving towards. In 2016, Google said that 20% of the total search queries are coming from voice. That’s a big number. But what’s even more alarming is the fact that teens are more into voice than the older generation.
A recent study found that 71% of traffic aged between 18-29 use voice primarily to search for information from Google.
Everything is telling us that voice is coming to take over and if you and your website are not prepared for it, you will lose.
The Voice Habit
Let me draw another interesting fact for you. As of 2018, nearly 31 million people bought Amazon’s voice assistant Echo where 14 million users bought Google Home.
Why do you think these customers bought voice based assistance?
They simply want to make their search experience a lot better & hey, voice assistants can do a lot more than just regular search queries.
People are getting into the habit of using voice to search for information and that is only going to increase once apps start to make the experience much better on platforms like Amazon Alexa.
I can see a world where to find an Uber, you simply tell your Google Home or Alexa this: “Hey Alexa, find me an Uber for college.”
That’s way easier than finding your cellphone, opening Uber’s app, typing in the location and then searching for the car.
I think so.
How to Optimize For Voice SEO?
Now that we have established the fact that voice is definitely something that we, the search engine optimizers need to think about, let’s address the elephant (or hummingbird) in the room.
How the heck we do that? Here’re some steps that you definitely need to keep in mind.
Build Everything For Cellphone
Everyone from Google to Facebook to Apple said that the world is moving to a mobile first environment. That was 2 years ago and though they are now telling you about an AI first environment, you need to make sure that every brand identity that you build is for mobile first.
A lot of the new generation companies are not even bothered anymore to create a functional website as long as they have an app. I am not telling you to go that far. I am telling you to at least build a website that loads perfectly on cellphones.
In case if you didn’t know, Google just launched mobile first indexing, which is another indication for you to focus on mobile.
Here’s the thing that people do wrong.
They think that their website is responsive and it shows mobile friendly on tools like Google’s mobile responsiveness test. It must be alright then.
No, it is not.
You see, even if I build a website that has a header and then a 100 pixel of nothing with a footer, it can be mobile responsive if it shrinks based on devices. That doesn’t mean that the website is mobile friendly. I would recommend that you think about the UX of a mobile environment first when you are building a site from today.
Remember, there are certain pop-up categories and flash ads that don’t work or looks terrible on cellphone. Get rid of them unless you want to get a sweet penalty from the big G.
Answer Questions Like a Conversation
It is not.
Think about this rationally. Let’s say you need to find dog food. If you are writing, you will write something like ‘best dog food’ or ‘dog food reviews’ at best on that Google search bar.
But what if you are searching with voice?
You will say something like “what’s the best dog food brand for my German Shepard dog aged 5 years old”!
See the difference?
When you do stuff with your voice, you can do a lot more and that reflects in search queries.
We call it ‘long tail keywords’ in SEO terms.
When you are writing the next piece of content on your website, make sure that you are answering questions as much as possible. Yoast recently did an article about the same topic, where they discussed 5Ws. I would recommend the same. The 5Ws that you should try to answer in every blog posts are:
Try to formulate sections of your blog post with these queries and you will soon start seeing more and more traffic from mobile devices coming to your website. Keep things natural and keep things non-academic.
This will help you in the mobile first world.
One great idea is to use FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) as much as possible in your pages. Suppose, you are doing an article about the recruitment industry in Dublin. You should definitely put both the common questions and answers in a nicely designed order somewhere within that post. That rapidly increases your chances of getting picked by the voice assistants.
Fix All Tech & On Page SEO Issues
Sounds basic but this is very important. You should make sure that every small on page factors are taken care of. Think about these factors immediately.
This is 2018. If you don’t have a SSL certificate, Google is not gonna rank you. If they don’t rank you, you do not exist.
Page Loading Speed
Make sure that your page loads within 3 seconds of someone clicking on an URL. Page load speed heavily impacts your ranking position.
Though debated, many still believe that fresh content helps your site to rank better. If you do not have any new thing to say to the world, make sure that you are editing your content and updating it once in a while.
Google recently (a few months ago) increased the number of words that you can put on meta description. Utilize that benefit. As soon as you have a longer meta description, you do not only push your competitors down but you also end up with better CTRs which helps again, to get better ranking positions.
Low Bounce Rate
Once again, many think that bounce rates are weird and they don’t matter. I kind of agree as I have sites with high bounce rate on the first page of Google. However, as Google still shows it as a metric on our Analytics too, I hate to admit that it matters.
Look, there are a ton of them and I will try to do a separate on page factor article if you want. For now, let’s take care of these ones.
So there you go.
Not many people at this moment are thinking about voice SEO and that might be a great thing for you. Get a head start and make those bad boys ranked higher than everyone else’s.
You can do it.