Search engine optimization is the practice of employing a collection of tools and strategies to improve website rankings for specific keywords. The goal is to ensure that a given website ranks as high as possible for the most coveted keywords within that particular industry. With that said, there is a big difference between typed searches and voice searches.
Voice search was virtually unheard of prior to the introduction of the smartphone. But with smartphones came the ability to talk to our browsers instead of laboriously typing with a virtual keyboard. Over the years, more people have embraced the convenience of searching the web using voice commands. This has given birth to something known as voice SEO.
If you are not sure voice SEO is a real thing, step back and consider how people run internet searches. Consider how you do it with your phone as opposed to a laptop or desktop computer. If you are like most of us, you conduct a voice search differently.
Sentences Instead of Keywords
A typical search using a computer goes something like this: you think of a couple of keywords or a phrase that best describes what you want to know. You type it into the search engine, making a point to type as little as possible. After all, typing is a drag.
The search engine – usually Google – attempts to figure out what you really want to know and return results accordingly. The more accurate results, the more pleased you will be. Thus, you and Google play a back-and-forth as you type in new keywords and it responds.
Is that how you voice search? Probably not. Voice search users are not limited by the constraints of typing. In fact, many of them talk to their phones as if they were talking to other human beings. Rather than typing a few keywords or short phrase, people tend to conduct voice searches by asking questions.
Those questions constitute complete sentences. For example, “Where can I find an SEO expert in Salt Lake City?” Asking a question by way of a complete sentence gives a search engine more information to work with. It allows algorithms to come back with a more exacting answer. That is important for SEO purposes.
Google Wins the Day… Again
A recently released 2020 voice search study shows that Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant are tied for first place in terms of the total voice search market share. Both have a 36% share. Amazon Alexa comes in at 25%, Microsoft Cortana at 19%, and all others at 1%. There is some overlap between devices, which accounts for the total being in excess of 100%.
Be that as it may, Google wins the day across all of its different platforms for being able to correctly answer questions posed in voice searches. For example, Android can successfully answer 98% of the time. Google Home can answer correctly nearly 97% of the time. Amazon Alexa only answers correctly 77% of the time.
There are plenty of reasons for Google’s success in this regard. Most of them boil down to Google’s dominance as a search engine. As the world’s largest, it stands to reason that it would produce the most accurate results regardless of whether searchers are run by typing or speaking.
What It Means to SEO
So what does this all mean to SEO? According to SEO specialist WebTek Interactive, it’s all about understanding how voice and mobile search relate to one another. More people than ever before are using their mobile devices as their predominant means of working online. That means more of them are searching with mobile devices as well.
Voice SEO is as much an art as a science inasmuch as optimizing for it requires figuring out how people speak to their phones. In other words, what types of questions do they ask in relation to the information they are after. Google breaks it down into four types of searches:
- Wanting to know something
- Wanting to go somewhere
- Wanted to do something
- Wanting to buy something.
The science part is easy. Anyone with significant experience in standard SEO practices can maximize for voice SEO if he or she knows what to target. Yet targeting is the art form. It is all about understanding the questions people ask and figuring out how to answer them in the most accurate way.
Not only is voice search here to stay, it is increasingly becoming the primary way people search the internet. SEO experts willing to get into voice SEO on the ground floor will have a leg up on the competition.