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Opinion

Why you need to future-proof your SEO strategy for voice search

Without question, voice search is gaining ground. This emerging technology, which already makes up 20 per cent of all searches on Google, battles it out in our homes, where Google (Home), Amazon (Echo) and Apple (HomePod) are fighting for market share.

As a result, the way people search online is changing and the question on every retailer’s lips is, “How can we ensure our SEO strategy stays on trend?”

Optimise for voice search

We have grown accustomed to the way search engines operate, having learnt long ago to succinctly enter the keywords to find the information.

But unlike the keywords typed into a search box, voice search is far more conversational. It usually occurs on a mobile (60 per cent of mobile searches are voice), is often based locally (“where is the nearest sports shop”?) and is typically longer than a text search.

Google voice search results sit at a ninth grade reading level, so kids around the age of 14 should be able to comfortably read and understand your content to rank better in voice search.

Google loves content that offers the reader value. Pages with higher word counts provide a lot of value and answer more than one question on a topic. When it comes to a Google voice search, the average word count for a results page is 2,312 words. But this does not necessarily mean longer content is better, because voice search results are normally very short, at an average of just 29 words.

What we can conclude, however, is that the more words or content you have, the higher your chance is to match a searcher’s query. More content means your page will also rank for more voice searches.

Top Actions:

1. Claim your Google My Business listing

If you have not already claimed your Google My Business listing – do it! This provides Google with more information about your business, such as the industry you are in, address and phone number, and you can include photos. You can also build your Google reviews through your listing, which is great for SEO.

2. Conversational keywords

Keywords in voice search are more conversational (long-tail+). The ‘plus’ refers to conversational phrases that you add when optimising your content. You need to mimic how real people talk and ask questions verbally. Think about what questions your business gets asked over the phone and use them to create content pages that focus on these longer, more conversational search terms.

3. Structured data mark-up

This gets a little technical, but it is crucial to use structured data mark-up to give voice search devices accurate information about your site and content. Using www.schema.org to provide the data mark-up for your content makes it easier for search engines to understand your content and its context.

4. Mobile speed

As we grow more impatient in this instant gratification era, it is vital to provide users with a fast site load time, especially from a mobile. Why exactly? Because 52 per cent of users will leave your site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Use the Test My Site tool to see how your site performs.

5. Secure your website

Google likes to keep its users and their data safe from external parties and is adamant about providing a safer web with the upcoming July 2018 Chrome 68 update. Security appears to be even more important for voice search results, with 70.4 per cent of voice search result URLs adopting HTTPS – a stark contrast to ordinary desktop results that only have 50 per cent secure URLs..

Paul Carroll has more than 25 years of experience in the industry, and is currently CEO at Pure SEO Australia. He can be contacted via email at [email protected]

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