SEO, has for a long time, been about researching the most appropriate keywords and infusing your copy with these keywords for visibility in the search engines.
While the strategic use of keywords continues to be a fundamental aspect of SEO, the massive penetration and usage of smartphones is increasingly changing the role of keywords in on-page optimization. This is especially true as the shift toward voice search takes place.
Up to 56 percent of adults use voice search, a trend that is set to continue to grow as consumers demand quicker answers to their questions during their busy daily lives. The growing popularity of Siri, Alexa, Cortana and other voice search assistants attest to this fact.
The voice search query is matched against an extensive database to find an appropriate answer for the user. So, instead of providing the user with a list of search results that correspond to the query, voice search engines provide a direct answer that is deemed to best suit the user’s intent.
Natural Language Processing technology analyzes a user’s intent when they ask a voice query by assessing the search history and contextualizing each query for best results. User behavior and their idiosyncrasies also helps to determine their intent. As more and more users search for a particular word, more data is built around this search term or query to provide more accurate results for similar future searches.
It is important to realize that the results or answers provided by Google following a voice query are not based on on-page keyword placement. Instead, Google considers how well an answer fulfills the user’s query. This has implications for your SEO efforts—keywords and keyword placement will increasingly become less important; instead, your content’s ability to satisfy the users’ query will take greater prominence.
Here’s the thing: Unlike traditional search engine algorithms, Natural Language Processing technology does not interpret keywords literally. Voice search and the provision of direct answers are made possible by interpreting users’ intent irrespective of the availability of keywords in the users’ query.
To make the most of voice search trends, you need to start thinking differently about keywords and keyword phrases because placement alone will no longer give you the coveted higher rankings. This makes it necessary to use keywords practically, in the way people use them in real life when asking questions pertaining to the keywords you rank for.
Here are three ways to optimize your website for voice search right now:
Just because users are increasingly shifting to voice search does not mean that on-page keywords are obsolete. You need to continue placing the appropriate keywords in your content. However, voice search demands much more than keywords and placement; your content needs to fulfill users’ queries in the best way possible, offer comprehensive information, anticipate users’ intention, be optimized for mobile and is easy to read.
One important way to tweak your content is to make it more conversational by adding the who, what, where, why and how phrases in your content. When people use voice search, they typically start their questions with these phrases. A conversational tone in your content combined with the right keywords can increase your site’s visibility significantly.
Markup language, added to your website’s HTML code makes it easier for Google robots to assess your site and determine the nature of the content on the site. Remember, in voice search, context is king so for your pages to rank, the search engines need to understand the context of your content and whether it provides the most satisfactory answers to specific queries.
In addition to adding markup language, make use of essential micro-data to ensure that your site is relevant and comprehensive enough to deliver the best answers to specific questions. For example, adding the location of your physical store or office, business hours, reviews and prices of products and services can boost your page rank due to the valuable information provided.
The days of ranking for keywords without much consideration for user behavior are now gone. The widespread use of smartphones and the continuing popularity of search assistants coupled with increasingly busy lifestyles means that consumers are in need of quick, accurate and direct answers to their questions. For marketers this means building humanized content that is optimized for mobile and that anticipates users’ queries for ranking keywords. For assistance with all aspects of website design and development feel free to get in touch with my digital agency.