50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. That should mean big things for your SEO strategy now.
Voice search is gaining popularity for a variety of reasons: personal assistant devices are more accessible, natural language processing is more sophisticated, and typing on mobile phones is slow and error-prone.
The rise of voice search is already creating huge waves for SEO. Mobile is becoming even more important, keywords are becoming longer and more natural, and featured snippets — although already hugely beneficial — are becoming crucial for traffic and brand recognition. For these reasons, 2017 is the perfect time to start thinking about voice search and developing a targeted voice search SEO strategy.
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On the surface, voice search seems to be designed for getting recipes while cooking or finding nearby restaurants while driving, but there are other reasons people prefer voice search:
While voice search is well-known for its B2C implications, these other rationales for adopting voice search are rooted in user experience. If voice search is simpler for users, its impact on B2B is inevitable.
We already know that 90% of executives use mobile devices to research business purchases. It’s a short leap from mobile typing to mobile talking.
Additionally, while Google is currently prioritizing B2C queries in voice search, it will inevitably move on to targeting B2B queries. When mobile shortcuts were launched, the implications seemed to be primarily focused on B2C, but we urged B2B marketers to pay attention and prepare for future impacts. Then late last month, Search Engine Land released screenshots that show Google may be testing a job search engine—officially breaking into a B2B vertical.
B2B companies will not be exempt for long, so B2B marketers must start thinking about how to optimize content for voice search. Optimizing now provides a significant opportunity to drive traffic from early adopters, and get ahead of competitors who are thinking of voice search as applicable to B2C only.
The accuracy of speech recognition software has improved massively in the last few years. Most major speech recognition platforms are now more than 90% accurate, and these improvements have led to higher adoption of the technology:
Today’s buyers are increasingly relying on voice search, and tomorrow’s buyers are growing up with it: it will be second nature by the time they’re in corner offices. To get ahead of the trend, sites and content must be optimized for voice search.
Voice search SEO requires focusing on three major factors: mobile search, long tail keywords, and featured snippets.
Even if your audience isn’t using voice search for business queries (yet), the rapid growth is emphasizing mobile and pushing Google into a mobile-first ranking algorithm model. Voice search or not, your site needs to rock mobile search.
By optimizing sites for mobile, B2Bs can cater to voice search and—as a bonus—earn higher search rankings. Load speeds, engagement signals, and mobile-friendliness are all current ranking factors, making mobile optimization crucial for desktop, mobile, and voice search.
Voice search users are more likely to use natural language for queries. Natural language lends itself to long tail keywords—keywords of more than four words—that better represent conversational search phrases.
To cater to voice search, B2B marketers should optimize content for long tail keywords and natural-language queries:
Again, optimizing for long tail search queries is important for more than just voice search. 50% of searches are for long tail keywords, and long tail keywords are 2.5 times more likely to convert. By optimizing content for long-tail keywords, you can cater to voice search, increase organic traffic, and enjoy higher revenue.
Google often uses the text of featured snippets to provide answers to voice queries. When it does so, it reads the name of the providing brand/website along with the featured snippet. This can help build brand awareness, and exceptional answers can encourage searchers to visit the page providing the answer to learn more.
Dr. Meyers asked Google Home about Page Authority, and it read the featured snippet answer, referencing Moz as the source.
Mashable asks Google Home a series of questions that are commonly asked in interviews for prospective Google employees. A source is cited for each answered question.
For B2Bs, inform-intent content must target featured snippets. To uncover opportunities and optimize content for featured snippets:
The definition given in the featured snippet for “marketing automation” comes from HubSpot, but the image comes from Reach Marketing.
Optimizing for featured snippets is good for voice search, but it’s also good for overall SEO. Featured snippets allow sites to appear in position zero—above the number one result—even if the organic result position is much lower on the page. This can result in increased click-through rates and sessions, regardless of the device or type of search being used.
Google’s voice search technology has evolved rapidly. Within a single decade, the company went from providing voice search via phone call to selling personal assistants that can engage in two-way communications:
Voice search is being adopted in increasing amounts. It provides a better and simpler search experience on mobile devices, making it important not only for B2C and local businesses, but also for B2B SEO. Optimizing for voice search is crucial for businesses of all types in 2017 and beyond—optimization improves the voice search experience, as well as SEO overall.
An important place to start is with mobile optimization. Voice search simplifies the complexity of searching on mobile devices, and users will expect ease of searching to be followed by easy-to-use results. Improve site load speeds and ensure sites are designed with mobile in mind to enable users to access needed information quickly and easily on small devices.
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