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In the present day, virtual assistants are everywhere – from laptops and mobile phones to watches and home devices. Most people have used a virtual assistant at least once, and some aren’t even aware of it.

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Voice Search in 2020

The industry is booming, there is no second opinion on that. In fact, according to eMarketer, voice commerce sales reached a massive $2.1 billion in 2019 alone. Juniper Research estimates that by 2023, there will be an astounding 8 billion digital voice assistants already in use on the market. 

Amazon’s Alexa still dominates the market for voice-enabled devices, but it is Google that holds more than 90% of the search engine market. Back in 2013, Google released the Hummingbird update, which introduced a change in how the algorithm processed natural language versus keywords. The update took into consideration context and user intent, which is an integral part of how the algorithm works today.

With search engines and voice recognition software growing increasingly smarter toward voice search queries, websites need to quickly adapt and optimize their content accordingly.

The Statistics

In case you still have your reservations if voice search is the future of online searches, here are some statistics you may have missed:

  • According to Location World, around 2 out of every 5 adults use voice search at least once every day (41%). And they use it for more than finding information alone. They use it for shopping, too. 
  • Recent data from Amazon shows that people use Alexa for shopping in 2018 three times more than they did in 2017.
  • 55% of households are expected to have a voice assistant device by 2022.
  • By 2021, smart speaker sales will surpass tablet sales.

Start Optimizing for Voice Search Today 

Are you convinced voice search is and will continue to be a hot topic in digital marketing? Good. Now, it’s time to see how you can start adapting your voice search SEO strategy today.

#1 Use Natural Language

Spoken queries aren’t the same as typed ones. 

Let’s look at a possible situation, so you can understand the difference yourself. 

Let’s say you’re looking for a nice cocktail place in your area to celebrate your birthday. If you go on Google or another search engine, your written query might be something along the lines of “best bars near me.” Now, if you’re using a voice assistant on your mobile phone, your query might sound more like this: “what are the best bars in my area?” 

As you can see, spoken queries tend to be longer and more conversational. So, instead of optimizing your content for keywords, you need to focus on enriching your content with conversational keywords and phrases that are used more in conversation rather than spoken word. Optimizing for semantic search is key to having a successful voice search optimization strategy. Targeting long-tail keywords is not only great for voice search, but also an efficient strategy for traditional SEO as well. 

#2 Include Question Phrases In Your Content

When we type in our queries on Google, we usually try to be as succinct as possible. It’s not about writing a novel out of your request, but saying as much as you can with as little as possible. 

For example, if you’re looking for a pink bridesmaid dress under $50, you will type something like: “pink bridesmaid dress on sale.” But, a spoken query will sound more like: “Where can I find a pink bridesmaid dress under 50 dollars?” 

So, when you’re creating your content, think about these types of questions users will potentially have about your product or service. Include these questions in your headers and subtitles, as well as the individual paragraphs.

If you’re wondering how to come up with such questions, there are many tools that are free to use (or have freemium options), such as Answer the Public and Also Asked.

answer the public1

If we take the example from #1 about bars, here is what people are already asking Google when they want to find a bar in their area:

answer the public2

A question about pink bridesmaid dresses, using Also Asked, will show results like these:

alsoasked-pink-bridesmaid-dress

Use these free tools when preparing or editing your existing content. Doing that can only benefit you. 

#3 Try to Get a Featured Snippet

You’ve surely seen featured snippets before, but you just didn’t know that was what they were called. These are the pieces of content that take up position zero, a.k.a., the space before any organic search results. According to Search Engine Watch, if your content is selected for a particular query, it is likely that voice assistants are going to use it to respond to spoken queries as well. 

featured snippet

So, the burning question of the day: how to make sure your content makes it to the Featured Snippet section? The simple answer is: make sure your content is original, answers the particular question of the query, and is of high quality. If you’re looking for a more thorough answer, you can check this guide by Ahrefs.

#4 Work to Improve Your Local SEO

A study made in 2018 by BrightLocal found that over 58% of people use voice search to find local businesses. It also established that users are more likely to use voice search to look for additional information on companies they are already familiar with. This comes as no surprise since most people who go for voice search are already planning to go somewhere or do something. They aren’t in the initial stages of researching a topic or a business. 

The phrase “near me” is super popular in voice search, and since search engine bots look into business listings to find verified information, you need to make sure your Google My Business profile is thoroughly filled out and has the latest details of your company. 

The Bottom Line

Working on improving your voice search SEO game is not something you can do “when you get the time.” Optimizing for voice search on Google and other search engines is a necessity for virtually any business if it is to remain competitive. 

Since many are still slow to see the importance of optimizing their content for spoken queries, you will have an added edge as soon as you take our advice and start improving your SEO strategy. Strategic planning, understanding user intent, and quality content are the three must-have ingredients if you want to master voice search in 2020 and beyond.

Refer back to this blog as we will be updating it with new trends and tips while we continue to see new changes in how voice search evolves.

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