24 Jun 2020

Okay, Google, what impact does Voice Search have on SEO?

With 128 million Amazon Echo’s sold since 2017 and Google Home, Sonos One and Apple Homepod in close competition, voice search is a powerful and influential digital assistant. What impact has the voice search evolution had so far and how will it shape our future?

Let’s take a closer look at how this technology affects modern SEO and which devices are fuelling the most excitement.

The History of Voice Technology

Voice technology was initially introduced by IBM’s ‘Watson’ in 2010 and has come a long way since. Watson is a voice recognition question-answer system and found its fame on the TV quiz show, ‘Jeopardy’ when the robot was able to beat Trivia grandmasters. Following Watson’s success, in 2011, Google launched its Voice Search and Apple released the original Siri for the iPhone 4S as the first digital personal assistant. 

Three years later, Microsoft introduced Alexa, the Amazon Echo’s personal assistant closely followed by the smart speaker assistant Google Home. 

Powerful Voice Search Stats

  • 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day
  • 55% of teenagers are using voice search daily basis
  • 30% of web browsing, as predicted by 2020 will be screenless
  • Google’s voice search supports more than 100 languages 
  • The English language has a 95% accuracy rate in Google’s voice search
  • 58% of consumers find local businesses using voice-activated search
  • 72% of smart speaker owners use their devices as part of a daily routine
  • 43% of people shop online via voice-enabled devices
  • There are more than 200 million smart speakers across the globe

Voice Search Predictions

  • Smart speaker sales will surpass tablet sales by 2021
  • 55% of all households are expected to own a smart speaker device by 2022
  • Voice-based shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022
  • In market share, this means consumer spending via voice assistants is expected to reach 18% by 2022
  • By 2024 it’s predicted that the global voice-based smart speaker market could be a $30 billion-dollar industry

The Power of AI & AR

The future of voice search isn’t an independent phenomenon. It needs to be considered in affiliation with two other topics for marketers; virtual and augmented reality. 

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning are impacting how we interact with smart devices and in particular using voice search to browse the internet. 

RankBrain is an AI programme which is used to help process Google search queries. It embeds large quantities of written language into mathematical entities for the computer to quantify and evaluate. 

RankBrain’s ability to ‘think’ enables it to predict outcomes by recognising words and phrases so when it encounters a word it’s not aware of it makes its best guess as to the searcher’s intent and delivers matching answers. Search algorithms are constantly evolving to accommodate AI-powered devices. 

Google employs a panel of ‘quality raters’ who regularly judge the value of SERPs based on a specific set of criteria. This looks at the type of results a searcher should expect from their query. This decreases the percentage of inaccurate results. Since the vast increase of voice search-related queries, in recent years, the panel has included voice search when judging the value of SERP’s. 

Augmented Analysis and Voice Search

Augmented analytics uses machine learning and AI procedures to change how analytics content is created, absorbed and shared. Smartphone users expect an immersive experience, which is why implementing voice-search and augmented reality functionality has become the norm in the arena of mobile app development.

As AR algorithms evolve, we will soon be able to interact with our smart devices and appliances almost in a similar way as we would chat with a friend. 

What does it mean for your SEO?

It’s more important than ever to start optimising for voice search to stay ahead of Google’s algorithm. It’s already a huge trend and a major player in searches engines and it will only continue to transform our approaches to technology. It’s advisable to follow the below pointers for explosive voice SEO results: 

  • Google Voice prioritises quick-loading websites, so it is essential to ensure images are optimised, files are compressed and response time is reduced
  • The site must be fully responsive
  • Use natural language with direct answers to specific questions 
  • Schema markup and rich snippets enable queries and answers in a context that is universally applicable to search engines
  • Featured snippets from web pages that may be used in position zero should have optimised content: include identifiable extracts to be featured and use H-tags and bullet points. 
  • Voice searches currently average 29 words in length according to Backlinko: feature long-tail keywords that reflect popular queries used in voice search
  • Increasing domain authority is vital in the appearance of voice search results – ensure high-quality links are used
  • Keep Google My Business listings up to date with operating information
  • More focus on local – as voice search leads to a percentage increase in local searches, the weight Google gives to these results are likely to increase
  • Video plays an important role in Google’s strategy for answering voice queries using natural language keywords

The Importance of Question & Answer Searches 

Question keywords are up 61% year-on-year thanks to the likes of voice search. The trend of asking a question and receiving an immediate answer is something for marketers and business owners to consider when looking at ways to get ahead in the race for voice search supremacy.

  • More than 20% of voice search queries are triggered by a combination of only 25 keywords
  • Top 3 common keywords in voice search phrases are “how”, what” and “best”
  • Roughly 75% of voice search results will rank in the top 3 positions for a particular question on a desktop search

The key here is to find the questions being asked by your potential consumers. Sites like Quora and Reddit (as well as relevant industry forums) can be invaluable for this. Explore these platforms for questions being asked related to your sector. This gives you an ideal platform for drafting up a comprehensive FAQ page. 

Incorporate question keywords: ‘who, what, where, how and when’, into your content and consider these pointers when researching keywords:

  • Which topics you’d like to rank for
  • What questions your audience are asking around this topic
  • How your audience phrase these questions when speaking vs typing

The war of Smart Speakers

Sonos One

The best-sounding smart speaker on the market

  • Compact
  • Home cinema or multi-room set up
  • Sonos One works with Google Assistant or Alexa

Apple HomePod

Great acoustics

  • Compatible with the iPhone
  • Touch-sensitive
  • No luck for non-Apple devices

Amazon Echo (2019)

Affordable

  • Fuller sound
  • Hands-free voice commands
  • Personalized voice profiles
  • Alexa!

Google Home

Great for Chromecast owners

  • Supports third-party streaming services
  • Acts as an audio receiver from Chromecast
  • Answers 81% of the queries correctly, on average (the winner of all assistants)

Voice-search appliances have demonstrated exponential growth over the last few years and notably, they are transforming our approaches to technology and SEO and powering our daily lives. 

Our team are fully equipped to fertilise your digital home and fuel your bespoke success story; drop us a line