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Impact of Voice Search on SEO in 2019: Expectations vs Reality

It’s 2019, ‘the year of voice search’, apparently! There has been a lot of research and many rumours about how voice search can benefit all types of industries. So, how do you know what to believe?

There is a distinct possibility that voice search will forever change how your content is optimised. Voice search has been vastly popular over the past five years and has shown tremendous progression.

Voice search has been snapped up and developed by some of the most innovative tech giants, eg. Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. To understand the importance of voice search, you only need to look at how much the tech giants are spending on it.

According to Andrew Ng, co-founder of Google Brain:

"By 2020, 30% of all search will be done without a screen. "

How is that possible? Is the technology there yet? Are people actually buying voice assistants? Should I be optimising my website for voice search?

These questions are just some we are looking to explain in this blog post. So, let’s see if there will be an impact from voice search on SEO this year…

What Is Voice Search?

google assistant

Voice search allows you to speak into a device as opposed to physically typing your query into a search engine. For the longest time, humans have had to accommodate in order to interact with machines. Now, machines are accommodating for us.

This voice search uses speech recognition to understand what users are saying and gives results orally back to the user. Impressive, right?

Although it seems like a fairly new concept, voice recognition has been around for a while now. Programs such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple HomePod, Siri, and Microsoft Cortana are all voice tools that are available now.

For example, Amazon’s Alexa is capable of searching for a song through your Spotify account or scan Wikipedia for an answer. This shows that some brands can be optimised to deal with voice recognition.

Here’s a pressing question for us… will voice recognition take over keyword research?

 Voice Search Vs Keyword Search


One of the biggest questions you might be wondering is whether voice search will take over technical SEO and keyword planning? The answer: Not yet.

As voice search progresses, eventually, there may be no need for keyword planning as we know it today.

Technical SEO has been this way for years and has been proven to work very well. However, the problem with technical SEO is that it can take a long time to see your investment from your keyword planning for your website. Voice search may eliminate some of this time, but will not be as consistent right now.

Expectation: We think voice search will immediately take over.

Although it is vastly popular already, it still has a long way to go with the technology. We still have a considerable number of years using technical SEO and keyword planning before we have to start using voice recognition for our search. Voice search is still a very good way for industries to save time on their searches.

Reality: Voice search will not immediately take over keyword research. Although voice research is progressing at a rapid rate, it will be years before it fully takes over.

If you buy a voice assistant, you will have to optimise your content or website in order for your assistant to recognise key phrases or words.

Optimising your content, using more of a conversational tone, will make it easier for your voice assistant to find certain content on Google. Let’s get into that in more depth. 

How Will It Affect Your Content?


As a common voice search user, this might not be something you think about but, for a content agency such as us, this is something we think about often. Content creators want to know if they have to optimise their content so that voice assistants will pick it up.

Expectation: Voice search will continue to pick up your keywords on your website like normal, but just at a more rapid speed.

This will not be the case as you will have to gather content in blocks because the average voice search result is 29 words long. As sentences on their own may not be picked up by your voice assistant, it will be harder than you might think to appear as a result.

Reality: Optimising your content to sound more conversational will be the first stage for voice search. Another harsh reality is that 22% of voice searches are location-based, focusing on nearby locations rather than the big picture.

If brands invest in local content then they will be more visible to voice search. Phrases like ‘near me’ will need to be implemented into content. Therefore, you should try to gear your content to what those around you are searching for.

Does Voice Search Drive Traffic?


With the voice search revolution happening right now, businesses are wondering how, and if, it will affect their SEO ranking.

Expectation: With voice search usually being dependant on location, this will have a big impact on SEO ranking. The future of SEO will depend on local factors.

Reality: These are three factors that will help improve your SEO ranking when using voice search:

  • Customer Reviews - This is one of the best ways a business can handle their local SEO. The number of reviews is critical to rank in Google’s local pack. Encouraging customers to leave reviews is always important, and will continue to improve your SEO ranking.
  • Improve Your Site’s Speed - Voice search is used almost exclusively on mobile devices, so your website should be mobile-optimised. If not, then users will simply bounce back and this can affect your rankings. (To be honest, with mobile usage only increasing year-on-year, your site should already be optimised for multiple devices).
  • Google My Business - Make sure you set up your Google My Business account and keep it updated. Business name, address and phone number will all help with your ranking. Add an original description of your business, choose the right category, and upload at least 5 photos to your account to ensure visibility.

Did you know: A page that takes 5 seconds to load is 90% more likely to suffer a bounce back, compared to a page that takes 1 second. Mobile users are more likely to be on the go, so the bounce back rate is 9.56% higher than desktops.

These three factors will help you stay ahead of the game in 2019 and will help you optimise your business online for voice searches.

What Should You Expect?


Expectation: As mentioned earlier, by 2020, 30% of search will be done without a screen.

The main thing you can do to prepare is to optimise your marketing content. There will begin to be less of a focus on driving traffic to your website from search engine results pages (SERPs) and more focus on your content.

Reality: To prepare yourself further, schema markup is a semantic vocabulary that you can input on your site to increase more informative results. It is a relatively new tool that users use to improve their SEO presence.

It is used to boost your online rankings for non-branded keywords and help search engines understand your content with contextual clues. Schema tells the search engines what your data means, not what it says.

So, why is it so important? Schema markup improves your website rank for all kinds of content types:

  • Articles
  • Local businesses
  • Restaurants
  • TV episodes
  • Book Reviews
  • Software Applications
  • Events
  • Products

These are just some markups that improve your website, but there are hundreds more. At the moment, only 30% of all websites use schema markup and are missing out on a huge SEO potential.

2019 is the year of innovation and don’t we know it! The voice search revolution is here to stay and is knocking at our digital door. We have provided some insight for you on voice search and how to prepare for the SEO takeover. Optimising your website with a conversational tone and providing updated information on your business are crucial tips for you to take away from this post.

Voice technology is a unique way to reach potential customers with content shaped around what, where, and when they search. It is also becoming more essential to speak to mobile users who are on the go! 

If you are still unsure on SEO or how to optimise your website, book a free marketing assessment with one of our experts.

We’ll take a look at your business and show you where you could be improving online and how this Manchester SEO Agency can help with that.