Voice search is yet another example of old technology born anew. Originally introduced way back in 2002 by Google, voice search and control remained little more than novelty for a very long time.
That was, of course, before the AI voice-assistant boom, brought on by Apple’s Siri and later the revamped Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. Today, speaking aloud to ask a smart device a question is a remarkably popular way to surface information.
The trend, according to Google, isn’t likely to end any time soon either, with the search giant predicting around 50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020 – and they’d know.
For a company which lives and dies by its ability to surface useful information to customers, it’s essential that Google adapt to a landscape where people are speaking to their search engine, rather than typing.
In reality though, the behind-the-scenes mechanisms are much the same. The primary difference is that voice searches are transposed into text as you speak, rather than you searching directly with text.
Whilst that change might seem small, it has a huge effect on online tone-of-voice as businesses reconfigure their SEO practices to better line up with the more conversational searches that people make with their voice.
Keeping your past, present and future content in line with SEO best practices is a sure-fire way to stay high in the search rankings, but how do you prepare for a voice-dominated search future? It’s simple: you follow these tips:
Get Conversational — Tone of voice varies dramatically from site to site and even from article to article, but it might be time to revisit some of those formal pieces you’ve written up.
Voice searches tend to be far more informal in their makeup than a traditional typed search. We tend to speak in full sentences rather than just typing keywords. Those sentences typically take the form of questions, so it’s vital that you reform your content to focus on the five w’s (plus one h); who, what, where, when, why and how.
Employ Targeted Slang — If you’re a local business interested in local customers, consider employing local slang in your content.
Consider that the humble bread-roll is known as a bap, bun, barm, muffin, cob and teacake in distinct regions across the UK. A voice-search user is far more likely to use a local slang term in their voice search than a ‘neutral’ term, making slang a useful tool for targeted local SEO.
Be Helpful — Being helpful is more than just a kind thing to do, it can yield terrific results for SEO. Google is increasingly pivoting to a system where - should a searcher ask a question - Google will surface an instant response to that question.
These answer boxes have generated competition amongst companies looking to enjoy the dual benefits of being listed first in Google and being drawn on for voice search responses.