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8 IMPORTANT STRATEGIES FOR VOICE-BASED SEO

The most powerful instrument has been the human voice. No instrument has come close to imitating its clarity, and authenticity. Which is why using the voice as a tool for communication has been an age-old practice, that continues, and will always. It is an irreplaceable, unparalleled asset, such an asset, that can be utilised well if we realise its true potential. Which is where voice assistants come in.

Long before Apple’ Siri in 2011, and Amazon’s Alexa, voice recognition technology had begun to make rounds with IBM’s presentation of a tool called the Shoebox in 1962, at the Seattle World’s Fair. At the size of a shoebox, it could carry out simple mathematical functions, and recognise and identify 16 simple words in addition to the digits zero to nine. Harpy, in the 1970s, a creation of the scientists of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the support of the United States Department of Defense and its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); had roughly the vocabulary of a three-year-old child, and could distinguish 1,011 words. Upon the completion of the invention by various organisations, of such technologies that were capable of recognition of word sequences through voice, companies started out to build applications for it. The Worlds of Wonder Toy company brought out its Julie Doll in 1987, which could recognise and respond to a child’s voice. In the 1990s, various companies began to use voice recognition technology and building and developing applications and accessories for it. Apple’s Macintosh computers came with PlainTalk, a speech recognition feature, in 1993. The first continuous dictation product, Dragon’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking, was released in 1997, and was able to understand and convert to text, about 100 words per minute simultaneously. The earliest adoption of voice recognition technology took place in medical dictation devices.

Following all these developments, came Apple Siri in 2011, Google Now in 2012, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa in 2014, and Google Assistant in 2016. As the technology crossed its early adoption threshold, it began to be improved and tweaked to serve better, and gradually, the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence in voice recognition became an inevitable reality. The confluence of Artificial Intelligence and voice assistants is one of the biggest and most significant advancements in its eventful history, and the way it has revolutionised lives, voice assistants and voice searches are here to stay.

Voice assistants are in vogue due to the wide variety of tasks they are capable of performing, hands free, the convenience of which lures many people to resort to using the technology. Voice assistants make calls, send texts, emails, play songs, perform searches online, and carry out various other tasks at the comfort of a voice command, without requiring a person to type or scroll. Voice search is one of the prime uses of voice assistants in the present day, which is why it is something your business should definitely not ignore, and seriously consider capitalising on.

Voice searches may have started small, however, it has gained and retained its place as an important concept and forms an essential topic in the search industry. A voice search revolution is underway contemporaneously, with voice search being used by consumers of all age groups. The number of digital voice assistants in use worldwide has only kept increasing, and is set to grow larger over the next couple of years.

The voice search is a highly improved and advanced dialogue system, using speech as the mode of communication for input and output signals. Such systems use Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) for feeding of input signals to voice search devices. Text-to-Speech (TTS) is also used for sharing search results. Often, a wake command, which is an algorithm that starts the voice assistant in order to begin to respond to input, is used, such as saying ‘Google’, ‘Alexa’ or ‘Siri’, or naming them something else.

When it comes to keywords and search engine optimisation catering to voice searches, it can get more complex and intricate. A voice search fundamentally differs from a query typed out. Voice search keywords are longer, more conversational, and tend to be more focused on certain topics. Location searches and local listings have been found to be a priority for voice searches. Voice searches are often prompt, to the point, and objective. They tend to involve plenty of question words such as what, why, how, where, when, and are found with a plethora of filler words and long-tail keywords. Manipulating certain aspects of what people frequently say to their voice assistants, is key to improving your search engine optimisation strategy for voice searches.

Did you know that Voice engine optimisation (VEO) is a term with Chatmeter’s trademark? It basically means voice-based search engine optimisation. Voice searches penetrate various industry verticals, and it is the need of the hour to adopt an effect voice search optimisation strategy.

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Here are some ways in which you could succeed with SEO for voice searches:

  1. Optimise for Rich Answers- The direct responses or informative snippets that pop up when you search for an answer on a search engine, without having to click or enter a website, are called rich answers. These are provided for best user experience, and convenience. The frequency of rich answers is steadily and constantly increasing, which is why you should consider working on ways to include your site in the rich answer search results.  Nearly three-fourths of answers obtained by voice searches feature rich answers, which increases the probability for the voice assistant to reply to a search with a direct result in the form of a rich answer. If your content rises to rank at zero, making it the top choice for voice search results, it is more likely to be read out loud, proving to be a bonus for your SEO.
  2. Reimagine and Reconstruct- As voice searches are predominantly conversational and recited in the manner humans tend to naturally speak in, you should consider analysing your content, and altering its structure to suit the voice searches and make it voice search friendly.  You must keep in mind the length of the voice search as well, as most voice searches are on average a length of 30 words. Including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is a good way to rank better on a voice search. The FAQ style makes it easier for your website to be picked for display or response to a voice search, in addition to breaking your content into smaller pieces or fragments using pointers.
  3. Use Conversational Language- A voice search query is mainly conversational, and can be vital to voice-based SEO. A conversational nature is an essential and basic characteristic of a voice search. Primarily utilising natural language improves the scope of matching a result of a verbal question. The consumer’s intent is crucial to understand in order to critically analyse verbal questions and study and predict the style of queries frequently used on query searches. Anticipating this, it is important to consider question keywords, conversational styles, most asked questions, best suited answers for queries, and answers performing well on a display as voice search results.  
  4. Target Long-Tail Keyword Phrases- On account of being conversational, voice searches are significantly longer than typed searches. Long-form complete content is favoured by search engines, which cannot be catered to individually, however, content can include all relevant terms often loaded in a voice search. Developing long-form content with all necessary long-form keywords appearing as vocal queries is a good way to create content optimised for voice searches. Long-tailed keywords must be targeted at performing well in voice search rankings.
  5. Improve Website Loading Time- It is a crucial factor to featuring well on a voice search. It is also one that is often overlooked, but remains important. Website loading speed directly impacts bounce rate, and consequently, conversation rate, which makes it important for voice search optimisation. Immediate results are desirable, and if your website takes its own sweet time to load, it isn’t optimally plausible for it to feature on content in voice searches. It is ideal to use compressed images and videos, reduce JavaScript parsing, use CSS3 and HTML5 frameworks to facilitate mobile page loading, reduce redirects and the number of plugins used, and use a Content Delivery Network.
  6. Optimise for Mobile- It is vital to pay attention to content suitable for use on mobile phones, as a significant chunk of voice searches are performed on mobile phones. Customising for the best experience on mobile and tweaking content for it is therefore, of surmountable pertinence. Make your website mobile-friendly and responsive, and ensure crawlability to make sure visibility and exposure is maintained high. Mobile usage of voice searches is most convenient, and thus should be paid attention to keenly.
  7. Leverage Google My Business Listings- As many ‘near me’ and local location and services searches feature on voice searches, optimising your Google My Business Listing, or other such business listings on search engines online, is of essence. Apart from your name, address, phone number, include other interesting and important details such as reviews, business categories, area codes, special deals, updates and news to improve your searchability on Google Business Listings. Target local keywords to gain higher search rankings, and embed structured data to ensure better performance on the search engine.
  8. Improve Content Readability- In order to facilitate ease of access and use on search engines, use simple and natural language, including common and comprehensible vocabulary, avoiding technical and esoteric jargon to improve readability of content. It is also important to study and analyse which words are easier to pronounce, say and understand on a voice search, so that it doesn’t just reach the ears it is intended for, but also finds the mind that needs to understand and use the information provided.

With voice searches becoming the new normal, right from households to schools and workplaces, voice-based search engine optimisation is something you should examine and work towards achieving.

Voice searches spell the future, and we must be ready to read it out loud.

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