SEO for vocal search: a guide to trends and best practices

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Voice search is rapidly gaining popularity among online users, as various studies on its dissemination point out, because it is easier, faster and more colloquial than traditional research. The theme has long been the focus of attention of digital professionals and – although perhaps the initial hype has slightly waned – it is increasingly important to publish optimized content and focus on SEO voice search, to be able to intercept this important slice of audience and win prominent positions on Google Search and voice devices.

The evolutions of SEO vocal search

For several years now, the development of voice and virtual assistants has been looked at with particular care (and perhaps anxiety) by those who work in the SEO and in the world of digital marketing; now seems to be somewhat diminished the concern about the disruptive force of this technology, also because the smart speakers of Google Home and Amazon, so far, have not managed to become the devices that change the market, as many had predicted, and the Search has remained “apparently” the same.

In fact, there has been a slow and steady growth in the use of voice on smartphones in the last decade or so, starting with the introduction of Siri, and when we talk about “voice search” we refer in large part to the activity on smartphones, as a searchengineland article points out.

Behind the scenes, Google continues to invest heavily in understanding human language and the BERT algorithm is an important, but not unique, example of how the search engine tries to understand the search intent more deeply, using the understanding of natural language.

What is the SEO vocal search

It was therefore inevitable that tactics and solutions were sought to make the content of the site more suitable for voice reproduction, grouped under the SEO voice search name, which is precisely a set of techniques that aim to optimize the content, phrases, keywords, metadata (such as Google’s speakable markup) and more to allow pages to rank at the top and be played when a user asks questions via mobile device or assistant.

This activity focuses primarily on the natural language of users and aims to provide them with direct answers to their questions and needs.

The trends of vocal search

The expert Ricky Wang on Search Engine Watch summarizes what are the latest trends in voice search, putting together statistics, studies and analysis to help us understand what is the state of the art in this area and then offer eight suggestions for best practices to optimize the site towards this challenge.

esperto Ricky Wang su Search Engine Watch ricapitola quali sono le ultime tendenze sulla ricerca vocale, mettendo insieme statistiche, studi e analisi per aiutarci a capire qual è lo stato dell’arte in questo ambito e offrire quindi otto suggerimenti di best practices per ottimizzare il sito verso questa sfida.

  • Smart speakers guide the adoption of voice search

According to emarketer estimates, the use of smart speakers grows at an annual rate of about 48 percent to meet the demands of over 76 million users by 2020. In addition, nearly 40 million Americans currently own a smart speaker and more and more people and families use it.

Previously, only a handful of products such as Alexa and Siri were known but over the years, voice technology has improved dramatically and many technology companies are releasing their products.

  • Artificial Voice Intelligence and Machine Learning are improving

There is considerable improvement in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and this has changed the way users interact with their smart devices and search the Internet.

Already with RankBrain, for example, Google was able to recognize words and phrases to predict the results of predictions more accurately and when it meets a new sentence, it makes its best guess and provides answers accordingly.

  • Looking for local products and services

People are increasingly using voice search to search for local products and services: according to statistics, 58 percent of users have used voice search to find information about a local activity. And even Google reports reveal that searches for activities “close to me” have increased dramatically in recent years, thus making this topic even more strategic for local businesses.

  • Increased popularity of vocal SEO

To be able to emerge on competitors and appear at the top, marketing experts are regularly refining their SEO strategy to optimize voice search: whereas Google’s voice recognition has an accuracy of 95 percent, Companies that want to attract more incoming traffic to their site must implement voice SEO.

But it’s not just Google that’s working on perfecting voice recognition to get the most out of it: the Chinese iFlytek voice recognition system has a 98 percent accuracy rate and the team is working on getting 99 percent accuracy.

  • Voice search is more mobile than ever

Google’s voice search is now available in over 100 languages on mobile devices. In addition, statistics suggest that smartphones are used almost 40 percent more than smart speakers for voice search. Thanks to phones, people can use voice search in different environments such as in the office alone, at the restaurant, at a party or anywhere else.

Ambiente d'uso dei comandi vocali

Best practices to optimize vocal search content today

These trends in voice research continue to grow, thanks also to advances in voice recognition technology; based on these data, Wang then developed 8 strategies and tips for the optimization of the site content, offering useful guidance to those who try to intercept traffic from voice search. This is not yet a specific job, but to improve some “regular” areas to increase the chances of appearing among vocal results.

  1. Using long tail keywords

Long-tailed keywords are specific keywords that are most likely your target audience to enter (or utter, in this case) into the search engine. According to statistics, they make up 70 percent of all web searches.

Many sites have been using the long tail tactics for a long time and get brilliant results in terms of ranking, and so it may be a good idea to find these keywords relevant to your field of activity to optimize in content to get good feedback in voice search. In this case, the use of long tail keyword can be used to give a more colloquial tone to the content and to specify what users are looking for.

Utilità delle long Tail keyword

  1. Implementing markups

It reiterates once again the importance of structured data and the markup, the metadata code to be added to the site to help search engines better understand the content, what it means and why it is there.

In addition, the markings can also serve to improve the performance of the site and enable the appearance of comprehensive multimedia search results that improve the user experience and can attract clicks.

  1. Taking care of content offering direct answers

Users do not use voice search as they do with text searches, but usually pronounce longer and more specific queries. According to one research, there has been a 61 percent increase in question phrases in research, because people are asking the search engine real questions.

Therefore, it is a good idea to edit the content to answer questions, always starting from the goal of writing quality content that are valuable to the target audience, to meet the needs of users and increase opportunities to conquer featured snippets on Google.

Crescita delle frasi con domanda sui motori di ricerca

  1. Optimizing the Google My Business tab

Another way to rank higher for voice searches is to optimize the Google My Business page, which is one of the easiest ways to be discovered by the audience when asking questions about Google.

The important thing is to offer complete and accurate content, images and information.

At the same time, you need to implement your prevalent local SEO strategy by targeting the way users express their questions: according to some studies, 76 percent of smart speaker users perform local searches at least once a week and therefore this field is as crucial as the insertion of relevant information and images.

  1. Reinforcing the authority of the domain

In the article, Wang simplifies by saying that “websites with many backlinks rank higher in regular search, and the same goes for voice search”. In support of this statement, he cites a study by Brian Dean, who examined 10,000 search results from Google Home, noting that sites with multiple links rank more often in voice search, because they acquire greater authority.

To improve this, the expert provides some advice:

  1. Having a site optimized for mobile

We are often talking about it, especially in view of the final switch to Google’s mobile-first indexing: everyone is surfing the Internet via smartphone because it is convenient and accessible, and therefore it is evident that most users will perform voice search from their mobile phone.

It is therefore essential to work on optimizing the site for mobile devices, taking into account factors such as:

  • Optimizing mobile pages with AMP.
  • Site speed control and the work to boost it.
  • Creating responsive web pages for mobile devices
  • Building a responsive landing page.
  • Create content that is more readable on smartphones.
  • Regularly testing the website with Google tools.
  1. Optimizing the site speed

The speed of the page also plays a significant role in SEO for voice search: studies show that the pages that rank highest in search engines after performing a voice search load in 4,6 seconds and they are also 52 percent faster than average pages.

To improve the parameters, we can apply some tactics such as:

  • Using a CDN.
  • Choosing a great web hosting platform that provides page loading speed and fast task times.
  • Optimizing the size of images.
  • Limiting the number of plugins.
  • Using caching on the website.
  • Reducing the use of web fonts.
  1. Creating FAQ pages for voice search

Creating frequently asked questions pages for voice search could be a considerable advantage, since as said question keywords are very popular. According to statistics, voice search results come more from FAQ pages than from desktops, because such content is generally concise and responds exactly to what users are looking for, and can also rank for several voice search queries.

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