Voice Search Optimization Wake Up Call. It's Not Too Late.
Voice search is the natural way of doing a search on the internet. It is going to be done this way with majority searches being voice-based after 2020 we can an early adopter and optimize for voice search.
Table Of Contents
Voice search is not a new kid in the town. In the last few years, it has quietly taken a big chunk of the search market. Many of the marketers and Search Engine Optimisation specialists are only really waking up to the fact that by 2020, yes I said 2020, that is by the end of the next year, half of all searches across the Internet will be voice searches.
No doubt, the voice search technology is in its infancy.
However, we already have sophisticated, voice-based virtual assistants and software applications, backed by highly developed artificial intelligence.
Just to name a few, Cortana by Microsoft, Alexa by Amazon, Google Assistant by Google and Siri by Apple.
Major recent advancements in artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning have brought the dream goal ever closer for the search giants like Google, to be able to understand a user query and serve the search results in a natural way possible.
What is better than being able to accurately listen, parse, understand what user is exactly looking for and then serving the user intent.
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7nuw7fm1ac
Voice Search Is The Natural Way To Search
the way Google search began in the early days was not the best way to start with the search but Google did it anyway because there was a market for it and behind the scenes, Google knew about it very well. The goal was then was different. Take the query, identify keywords match and return a list of websites from the database, which probably, a user is looking for.
The fact is that there is very less Google could do about it at that time. There was a market for the service what Google served and it did well.
They way Google wanted the search process to be carried out was not possible as required tools and technology just didn't exist at that time.
It wasn't an easy ride for Google either. Google got manipulated for years.
We all know very well, the "keyword game".
Part of the problem was to rank the high-quality content which could be only done by knowing what content was good. The other half of the problem was to understand the user intent.
Google tried it's very best but knew things had to change.
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuOBzWF0Aws&t=14s
This video was is funny but it has another side to it.
Why Traditional Keyword Search Is Un-Natural?
The reason normally cited in the favor of voice search, most of the time is:
Well, it's more convenient.
Sure it is convenient, however, there is much more to the popularity of the voice search.
Not only it is convenient for the user because of its handsfree approach, but it is also convenient because it is the natural way of asking a question.
We, humans, have evolved over millions of years.
The awesome systems integrated into every one of us to receive, absorb, process information has evolved in a certain way and perform best in a certain way.
Now we humans can adapt accordingly and fill the gap for the missing or ambiguous information and do accomplish the task most of the times.
It does not mean it is an optimal utilisation.
Think for instance the human eye.
Pattern Recognition Is Integrated In Us
Embedded content: https://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/styles/content_page_full_width_500x280/public/AnatomyOfTheEye500x280.jpg?itok=WnkgDBnU
In every human eye, there is a "blind spot"
It is a small portion of the visual field of each eye where we do not have any photoreceptors to correspond to on the optical disk.
We do not image detection in this area. How do we fill the gap?
Well, we have a set of eyes. And both eyes have blind spots at different locations. Which means, the information missed by one eye is available to the other and vice versa, combine both inputs and the loss is covered.
But one if a person has one eye?
We have another very useful mechanism in place.
We have a library for most of the common and important information we absorb through our lives. If some information is missing, we can recall it from the library fill the gap.
We go a step further of correcting the information we absorb. If the information is ambigius or doesnt conform to a pattern we have in our library and overwrite it. Hear abouit optical illusions ?
Embedded content: https://visme.co/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Optical-illusion-1.jpg
From Early Televisions To Virtual Reality, It's All about Achieving Naturalness.
Or take, for instance, the television.
We started with black and white. It did the job for us. We could make up for the missing information, in terms of colors, in our minds.
However, this is not how our brains perceive an image. A video, in fact, is a display of frames in an order at a particular rate (Frames per second), which we perceive as reality.
There is a lot of missing information but we make up for it anyway.
Technology strived to get better. It's far better but not there yet.
- We got color Televisions.
- CRT display technology...
- Flat-panel displays such as LCD...
- HD TV ...
- 3D ...
Embedded content: https://images.fastcompany.net/image/upload/w_596,c_limit,q_auto:best,f_auto/fc/3033336-inline-vc5ikii.jpg
We are getting there but still not there yet. Why? What are we aiming for? Technology is trying to achieve one thing. Make Viewing experience natural. Or as close to as natural as possible.
Until then, there is a room for improvement.
Getting back to the search.
Voice Search Will Be Main Mode Of Search
When Google started. It had to make use of the technology which was available.
Keyboard, mouse, and monitor.... database of websites.
And the goal? Help people find relevant websites.
Goals have shifted from websites to information.
And what about technology? We know where we are...
It was natural for Google or any other player in the search industry to bring search experience as a closer to nature as possible.
This why I say voice search is the natural way to search and not far from today, voice search is going to be the main mode of search.
And then there is more to it...
“The destiny of Google's search engine is to become that Star Trek computer, and that's what we are building.”
Amit Singhal | Head of Google’s Search Rankings
Voice Search Is Convenient Mechanism For Google To Understand User Intent.
Yes, If Google gets the hang of how to correctly decode human Language Processing it will unlock this holy grail at any cost.
If Google is able to communicate with the users just like a person does to another person, It can help Google precisely understand what a user wants or what is the user intent.
Consider the following two ways of asking a question.
Say, you want to learn about influencer marketing. It is a new term you have just heard and you are curious and you just want the very basic information as to what the hell is influencer marketing.
You usually would open Google search and may type the following.
Influencer marketing definition...
Influencer marketing examples...
or to the max ...
What is influencer marketing?
Google algorithms have worked very hard to understand what exactly is a user looking for. Combination of tens of factors come into play when Google receives a query.
Now put yourself in shoes of a person named Google, like in the video...
User: Hey man, do you know what the hell is influencer marketing? Just heard my marketing guy talking about it.
This is pretty much an opening query sounds like. Maybe, as, Mr. Google, you would like to elaborate a bit.
Google: I have an article with 1.2 Million views and 4.9. rating. I also have an awesome podcast by qoracreative. What would you prefer?
User: Give me the podcast, I'll listen to it on my way home.
Thanks, Google, you are my man!
"It is common now for people to say I love you to their smart speakers."
Professor Trevor Cox | Salford University
Keyword Typing Is Going To Be Old Fashioned Very Soon
Embedded content: https://neilpatel-qvjnwj7eutn3.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/pasted-image-0-54.png
The above chart clearly shows the prominence and interest in voice search over the last few years. It also shows that voice search is growing multi-folds, years on year. The fact is though, voice search is taking the grounds from the traditional, keyboard-based search.
One of the factors, no doubt is convenience.
Other factors being, interest and efforts being put in by the industry giants.
Siri, Cortana, Alexa, google voice search are the products by four of the main market Giants. They are fighting tooth and nail over it.
Why is that?
Voice search is the best at translating human language into the user intent for the algorithms.
Serving the user intent is the key to the success for both search engines and content creators. Let's now talk about the best ways we can work with the search engines and facilitate users who are shifting to voice search.
Voice Queries Are Conversational
"Content is not king on the Web; meeting a searcher's intent is. When someone searches for pizza at lunchtime, they likely aren't looking for a history of Pizza, but rather a slice or two."
Bill Slawski | Seo By The Sea
When we use traditional search tools like Google, type something like:
- pizza in Wembley
- best pizza near me
- pizza delivery
- something similar on these lines
As you might say, it is not always easy to see exact user intent from these queries.
Pizza in Wembley might translate into a few possible questions. How do you know what exactly is the user looking for? Let's type this query using Google Incognito and following are the suggestions we get.
pizza in wembley park
pizza in wembley high road
pizza in wembley
pizza in wembley central
pizza in north wembley
pizza hut in wembley
best pizza in wembley
pizza romaneasca in wembley
domino's pizza in wembley
pizza delivery in wembley
Following are shown by Google as "Searches related to pizza in wembley"
pizza perfect wembley
pizza delivery wembley
pizza inn wembley
farmhouse pizza wembley
pizza hut wembley
pizza shops in wembley
halal pizza in wembley
What we can see is, Google is making an effort to figure out, as much as it can, for what the user is precisely looking for. Current mechanism to elaborate on what a user desires is by providing further suggestions.
Because Google would not like to return information about the history of pizza, pizzas in Wembley or best pizzas in Wembley if the user is looking exactly for the delivery to his house at that moment and how this could be achieved.
If the user is looking for a few Pizza slices to be delivered and he is talking to someone, say another person, they might ask:
"How can I order a pizza delivery now in Wembley?"
There are two ways to tell Google. Either type it or talk to Google voice search.
Which method is convenient? We know the voice search.
Both for the user and for the search algorithm.
Voice Queries Are Natural Conversations
If you use voice search, you will probably ask the question, like which restaurants serve dinner now in your area.
There are several ways to express a question in regular English language when two people speak. Conversation is not just only the words, there is a gesture, a context, the body language, and a situation.
For instance, if you would like to get directions as if you were heading in the right direction, while on a journey.
Say, you are heading to Heathrow Airport from Central London. You might ask someone: Is this the way to Heathrow Airport?
Now, how can you ask this very question to you search assistant? How nice it would be if your smart assistant is able to know which way you are heading by gathering information from other sensors and data points like Global Positioning System (GPS), your coordinates, and the rate of displacement. More importantly, it understands your question.
Now say you are driving, with Google Maps on your side. Can you imagine asking this very question to Google Maps? Wouldn't it be wonderful, if you could do that?
Or, we could ask Google Maps, should I take this turn on the right or should I take the next one. This sounds fun if it was possible. Because it is natural and a very normal thing to do. And it is natural because this is how people communicate. This is how you ask a person sitting next to you and assisting you with directions while you drive.
How To Optimize For Conversational Queries.
We have known for a while that a good content structure is good for both, user readability and the search engines. Dividing your content into proper headings has always been the key.
When it comes to optimizing for conversational queries, we have to tailor our headings into possible questions a user might ask.
Say you have compiled an article about blogging statistics for 2018.
Instead of optimizing for keywords like
"blogging" ""statistics" "trends" as stand-alone keywords try to think and translate how a user might like to ask about the topics you have covered in your article.
"Optimum Post Length" could be written as: What Is The Optimum Post Length for an article?
"Optimum Publishing Frequency" could be written as: How Frequently Should We publish an article?
"Time To Write An Average Blog Post" could be written as: How Long Should It Take To Write An Average Blog Post?
and "Perfect Length For Content" could be written as: What Is The Perfect Content-Length In Terms Of Consumption?
Following is the table for most frequently used keywords for voice search queries. Using these words smartly and coming up with a possible combination a user might ask something is the key.
The best way to do is: think like a person, talking to you on a subject. Even better is, how would you discuss the topics with someone and how would you like to ask these questions.
Embedded content: https://www.brightlocal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/best-keywords-for-voice-search.jpg
The tool best suited for the job is Answer The Public
Voice search is a natural way to search. If it was possible from the very beginning this is how we would Google in early 2000.
If the algorithms were able to accurately deduce the user intent from mere keywords typed in search boxes, we wouldn't have had voice-based search assistants.
The need for algorithms to understand user intent better led to the advancement of voice search technology.
It was necessary because this is how it has been done always for millenniums.
Search is getting closer to the natural way humans communicate, it is going to be done this way.
Be an early adopter. Optimize for voice search.
About the Author:
Asad Likes anything creative, but mainly, developing web-applications, optmizing websites for search engine algorithms and writing about all stuff creative.
He could be reached at LinkedIn or Twitter. He is also an active contributor at stackovrflow.com