Voice control’s effect on web content
One-in-five mobile users rely on voice searches to find information or control their device according to a recent study. Considering many cars now enable you to control your music, messages, and email through voice, this isn’t too surprising. What does it mean for web content though?
With the rise of digital assistants and talk-to-text, should web content be re-evaluated to ensure it is compatible with Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and others?
Digital assistants have certainly contributed to the rise in popularity of voice searches, talk-to-text and deep learning. Deep learning is an artificial intelligence (AI) process that imitates the workings of the way the human brain processes data and creates patterns for decision making. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning in AI that has networks which are capable of learning unsupervised from data that is unstructured.
Deep learning is a type of machine learning that uses complex systems to carry out their “learning processes.”
Given the complex algorithms and “learning” involved for deep learning to be fully functional and optimal, it’s not surprising that voice searches are on the rise; the more it’s used, the better it “learns.” Every day more and more people are choosing to say what they need, rather than type it out. With this rise, also comes the need for entrepreneurs and businesspeople to optimize their SEO and web content for voice searches. How can you ensure your site is compatible and flawless optimized?
Phrases instead of key words
The first thing you should keep in mind regarding your content is how voice users search for content. Instead of searching for one or two keywords, voice users typically ask a question in the form of a complete sentence. For example, you might hear someone say, “Hey, Siri. What’s the best way to make chocolate chip cookies?” Then, Siri might respond with a recipe. How does Siri know what you what? Deep learning.
How does Siri know what to show you? Deep learning and website optimization.
Soon, instead of focusing your SEO on selected keywords, you may be focusing on key phrases (also called long-tail keywords) which will likely answer the questions a voice user would ask. By humanizing your content through thinking about your answers in full sentences, you’ll be one step closer to optimization. For example, think, what would a consumer likely ask in order to find me? Do I have the answer to these questions on my pages and SEO? Not sure what to ask or answer? Answer the Public is a great tool for helping you dig deeper into your content and gets things optimized. In addition to re-evaluating your SEO, you may want to develop questions you think searchers might ask and then include the answers in your Q&A content (thus, making your site higher up in the result ranks).
Mobile friendly/Covering your bases
Another way to make sure your site is ready for voice searches is to make sure it is also mobile friendly. Google recommends responsive web design, along with several other points you may want to consider to ensure your website is mobile friendly. Wondering if your site is mobile-friendly? Google developed a test to help you. Simply click here, and enter your site’s URL in the box and it will let you know if your site has passed the test.
If your site does not pass, Google will suggest what could be changed to make your site more mobile friendly.
Also, keep in mind mobile users will often reference microdata, like a business’s location, phone number, price and more (think: when people speak the phrase “find near me” or “nearby.”) You can ensure voice searchers can find you by making this information easily retrievable for digital assistants by creating a comprehensive sitemap for your site, including your address, relevant contact information, directions from main highways, etc.
Understanding digital assistants
One final thing to keep in mind: Siri and Cortana are not search engines. They default to Bing to collect and collate web-based results. Google Now, will of course, collect from Google. Given the popularity of both Siri and Cortana, is there a possible that Bing will outpace Google?
Probably not, but you do want to make sure that you are optimized for both search engines or your business might lose out on voice searches.
If you want to ensure you do not miss out on Siri and Cortana users, you may need to do a bit of research on what works best on Bing. For example, Bing prioritizes local results, whereas Google gives the most popular topic priority. Google is better at semantic search, while Bing is better with specific keywords. Again, both useful search tools, but if you want to ensure maximum traffic, you should be aware of the difference. (Side note: some tech savvy users know how to re-program Siri and Cortana to pull from their favorite search engine, but I do not thing the larger majority of users choose to do this).
The future of voice searches
Technology enthusiasts are absolutely going to continue to use their keyboards for some things, however voice searches are on the rise simply because they are more convenient. If the trend continues, and I think it will, it is a worthwhile step to have your site already prepared and optimized because as the capabilities and value of voice continue to grow, so will the need for marketers to evolve. Emphasis will need to be placed on sentences, phrases, and topics rather than keywords.
And the demand for mobile friendly sites will be paramount. What do you think – is your site optimized for digital assistant and voice searches?