A new age of website optimization is upon us! Welcome to the age of Voice Search Optimization!
Remember back in the good old days (like 2017) when you would actually type out your search query. Yeah, it was pretty rough back then. Luckily for us, developers got tired of the getting thumb cramps from typing or swiping and decided to develop virtual voice assistants. Even gave them snappy names such as Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Echo, and, uh, Google Assistant (you really need to work on that name, Google).
So how has the rise of voice assistants changed the nature of search optimization?
Think about the times when you had to type your search query. More often than not, we will naturally optimize our query terms into the shortest phrase possible. A search query for “what is the best pizza restaurant near me” might become “best pizza close”. People rarely typed out long-tail keyword phrases with hopes that search engines would get the gist of their request.
But with the adaptation of voice-capable search, we are free to add as much detail as we want. Instead of using short phrases, searchers can ramble on and on. “Which dentist near me offers discounts for first visits and have at least a 4-star rating on Google?” as opposed to “dentist near me”.
This has presented challenges for search engine algorithms. Longer search queries could have different meanings and will have many more possible answers.
Enter… Machine-Learning Algorithms (cue dramatic chord in G minor).
In order to cope with the complexity of longer search queries, search engine developers have turned to machine-learning which uses artificial intelligence. Not only are words deciphered but even your tone of voice is now taken into consideration when trying to develop a response to your question. Over time, machines develop better results based on the nature of the request, not just the words that are used.
Voice assistants use machine learning algorithms receive your request, search their own server for the command they ‘think’ you are asking and, in turn, respond. If the voice assistant doesn’t feel it has sufficient information, it may even respond to your search with a question. “Do you mean such and such?” or even the dreaded “I’m sorry I can’t do that right now. “
So what does this have to do with SEO?
The main focus for voice search optimization is making sure your website is properly formatted to provide information that machine-learning algorithms will use in search results.
As mentioned above, people will use different long-tail search terms which means the content on your site will need be adjusted accordingly. Adding Frequently Asked Question pages to address longer search terms can be very beneficial.
The other thing you can do to help Google bots better understand your content and its relevance is to use structured data (schema) markup. Structured data markup helps you create metadata for your content that tells Google what it's about but doesn’t impact how your content appears for users.
It's also supremely important that your site is mobile-friendly. (Which, if it's not by now, there's work to be done!) The majority of voice assist searches are done using mobile so it only makes sense that your site adheres to the 'mobile first' mentality.
One final note is site-speed. It's no secret that Google gives a lot of preferences to sites that load quickly. While site speed should be part of your bigger, overall SEO strategy, it will only help your voice search optimization efforts.
Interested in improving your site for voice search? Contact Parkadoo Digital today!