Is voice search the next SEO destination? Key takeaway from Brighton SEO

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On Friday, 2nd of September, digital marketing professionals and enthusiasts came together for the Brighton SEO conference. It was a time to share top tips, and insights and brainstorm on the ever-changing world of search engine optimisation. There were different sessions but I opted for the ones on analytics, onsite, voice search and technical streams. I found the presentation from Purna Virgi on voice search the most insightful.  It is worth noting that the other sessions had speakers who presented excellent findings on topical digital marketing concepts.

Are you prepared for voice search?

Purna Virgi’s presentation touched on the growing importance of voice search as she revealed that 33% of searches on Bing are via Cortana, Microsoft’s voice search application. According to Purna, voice search has grown in popularity due to technological advancement that has led to an error rate of only 8%.  With progress in machine learning, voice search applications such as Google Now, Siri and Cortana can learn accents and improve the user’s search experience. A lower error rate has led to an increased confidence level in these voice applications by users and led ComScore to predict that by 2020, about 50% of searches will be from voice applications or personal digital assistants (PDAs). During the presentation, Purna revealed the top six queries from voice search:

  • Who is Bill Gates?
  • Do my homework
  • When will my package arrive?
  • Where do I live?
  • Where is my wife?
  • Who is my wife?

voice search the new SEO destination

In optimising for voice search, Purna proposed five essential steps:

  • Rethink keyword: Voice search is more question-based and optimising for longer keyword and using Schema Mark-Up will help search engines gain a better understanding of a site’s content and present them in the most relevant manner.
  • Rethinking local mobile: Purna revealed that voice search on mobile has about 3-times local intent than typed-text searches.
  • Rethinking intent: As SEO professionals, it could be daunting to understand the real intent behind the search terms of users. Voice search appears to have longer text and expresses the intent of users better than a standard text search.
  • A chance to rethink branding: Devising a brand name that is easy to pronounce will be important in enhancing the voice search experience.
  • Rethinking creative: Companies should consider reinforcing their creative from website contents to ad copies to be in line with voice searches.

Is voice search the next SEO destination?

There is a drive towards conversational search as search engines make giant strides to personalise results to users. Typing challenges, quick answers and being occupied (e.g during driving and cooking) are three factors that are compelling users to search via voice applications. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Baidu are investing heavily in algorithms that understand not just the search phrases but also the context of these searches. As such, elements such as the user’s search history, location and global search trends have an impact on what web pages are served to users. Voice search will continue to grow but the key factor will be personalisation.

Reasons why voice search will be on the rise:

  • Lower error rate: Search engines will continue to improve their understanding of accents and user context (location, trends and habits) and this will encourage a higher use of voice search.
  • The need for multi-tasking: We are in a very busy world where multi-tasking is on the rise. Typing a query inhibits this generation from being able to multi-task. Voice search is the answer to a world with a love for juggling multiple tasks.
  • Less trial and error: Typing a query in search engines may require a bit of trial and error and tweaking to get the desired web results. Voice search enables users to be more descriptive and clearly express their intent, which aid search engines to serve precise results at the first time of asking.
  • The need for social interaction: Humans are believed to be frailer than other animals. This triggers the need for social interaction and attachment. Imagine being in a new city and asking a stranger for directions to the closest coffee shop. The need for interaction is evident and PDAs (personal digital assistants or voice applications) will help fill that social need and provide relevant answers in our time of need.

Voice search is here to stay and is expected to grow in use within the next couple of years. As social beings, our desire for conversation and interaction will lead us to resort to voice applications such as Google Now, Alexa, Cortana and Siri.  Are you prepared for the voice search revolution?

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