Google Assistant is Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) voice search service based on natural language processing (NLP). In short, voice search technology understands you when you ask it a question. It can answer you too.
Instead of typing your search in Google.com, with Google Assistant you ask questions using your own voice and the software provides you with answers.
Why Is Voice Search Important For SEO?
More and more people are using voice search and this affects the types of queries that Google receives. People search differently using their voice than when typing. Voice search queries are more similar to natural language than search box queries. Currently, 20% of all searches are performed via voice search. But this number is expected dramatically over the next few years.
The next generation uses voice search to find businesses and answers on the internet.
Here’s a statistic to make marketers take notice. According to MarketingCharts.com, 50% of connected teens (globally) are using voice-enabled assistants. The next generation uses voice search to find businesses and answers on the internet.
Voice Search Optimization
Optimising for voice search is different than for text search (the more traditional way of finding answers). I might type “best gym NYC” in a search box. But on voice search, I will most likely use a full sentence, like “What is the best gym in New York City?”
Instead of typing “Google v Facebook ads”, to find a comparison of the two services I might say “Which is better value, Google Adwords or Facebook ads?”
Queries in voice search are longer than in the traditional search. Voice searches typically use clearer language.
This brings me on to how keyword research should be approached in 2018 and 2019. Pre-2013, marketers would look for high-volume, low-competition keywords such as “marketing best podcast” (This is just an example phrase to illustrate a point). People using this search phrase are really asking “What is the best marketing podcast?”, but using exact match short phrases like “voice search SEO” or “yoga price London” in your website copy really worked.
Pre-2013, the SEO strategy was to stuff a blog post full of repeated keywords. Forget about correct English usage.
Repeating keyword phrases in this way makes for a terrible user experience. But back then, Google awarded sites that followed this practice with higher rankings.
That all changed with the search engine algorithm updates (in particular, the Panda update). Keyword stuffing harms your website's rankings.
Search engines have advanced enough to understand that “cheap ads Facebook buy” has the same intent as “buy cheap Facebook ads”.
Voice Search will take this a step further. Trying to integrate “start E-commerce site” into a blog post will make your post sound weird. Instead, try to answer questions using fully formed English language queries like, “How to start an E-commerce site in 1 week”.
Long tail keywords will be even more important in the future. Think conversational, not bullet points.
Voice search will continue to change over time and marketers will not be able to rest, even when they think they've figured it out. As people get used to searching using our voice they will use ever more complex queries. They might also try shortcuts. It's human nature to take shortcuts and people will figure out the fastest way to get an answer. Personal Assistant Search Optimisation (PASO) will have to adapt to the ever-changing search query landscape.
Google isn't the only player in the field of Voice Assistant and voice-enabled search. Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Cortana from Microsoft, and Soundhound's Houndify service are all well-developed voice assistant services. Each one offers a new opportunity for marketers that understand the new search arena.
Learn how to answer voice queries with your content and you will stay one step ahead of black hat SEOs.
Local SEO And Voice Search
Local SEO has become even more important thanks to Google Assistant. Think about how people might search for answers using voice search. Nobody's using voice search on their mobile phone to download PDFs of Ancient Chinese Warfare texts. And they don't usually want a transcript of the constitution. Nor do they want an introduction to mobile marketing. They want quick answers.
They want to know where the nearest pizza shop is. They might ask how far it is in miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Asking for a conversion (pounds to kilos, miles to kilometres) is also easier with voice search.
People also put their trust in Google to find coffee shops nearby with high ratings from reviews. If you have a local business it's time to change up your SEO and cater to the new wave of internet search. Businesses and websites that don't rely on local SEO (national or non-physical businesses) can still optimise for search by becoming an authority on a subject. Google tends to favour authoritative sites for Instant Answer results in the SERPs. These are the types of results that will be selected as answers to voice search queries.
Finally, if you haven't done so already, invest time in building Structured Data into your website. The benefits of doing so are only starting to be understood. With structured data, Google is better able to create Rich Snippets from the content on your website. This leads to better distribution of content from your site in the SERPs.
Check out Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper which helps you add the correct HTML formatting to your website. If your website runs on WordPress, there are a number of plugins that can make structured data integration much less painful.
Keith is the founder of Fat Frog Media. He has worked in the tech, fitness, food, and hospitality industries. Keith helps businesses improve their marketing and conversion rates.