The Impact of Voice Search in 2016

Despite it being repeated every year, 2015 was finally the ACTUAL year of mobile, largely thanks to Mobilegeddon. Well, 2016 has been the year of voice search.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, announced in May of this year that 20% of all queries on mobile devices were via voice search, while at the most recent BrightonSEO conference, it was predicted by Purna Virji that:

85% of search on mobile devices in 2020 will be via voice search.


One of the biggest issues previously with voice search is that it never understood what we were saying. Remember telling a cinema robot which film you wanted to see and it repeated the wrong one multiple times?

Well, in just a two year space, the number of voice recognition errors has dropped from 20% to 8%, while it should be down to 4% by mid-2017.

With the figures seemingly showing no signs of slowing down, the winners will be the early adopters. I will therefore focus on ways you can optimise your site and your strategy so you are ahead of your competitors.

Blogging Strategy

Stop your content strategy right now and have a deep think about how you can adapt your efforts to be focused on conversational queries. You need to imagine yourself as a customer and think about what they may ask their phones when considering a purchase, or generally researching your area.

I will offer you a case study for you to adapt to your own business model. While planning the content for TheStagCompany, we’ve stopped with posts around topics such as ‘8 fun activities to try while in Budapest’ and instead looked at our FAQ’s.

You have these FAQ’s buried at the bottom of your site, but really you could open each question and write an entire blog post on each one. You can be sure that at this current point in time, virtually no competitors have answered the questions in such detail, therefore you will easily take the top spot for such a query.

So with TheStagCompany, I could write an entire blog post on ‘When is the best time to book a stag do’. This is a question a large number of our potential customers may ask, yet not a single result answer’s this question. You can then illustrate the most common times people book their stag do, when would be the best time to save money or how booking early could result in cheaper monthly payments or greater deals etc.

Schema Markup

I’m a huge fan of adding schema markup. Google’s AI is trying to understand content and is becoming wiser as time passes by, but as we leave hints and guidance for the bots, it makes their life easier. This is why Google will tend to reward sites that properly markup their data, as it allows the end user to get a more pertinent result, while you will benefit from a greater real estate on SERP’s, often leading to a greater click-through rate (CTR).

But this is even more important for voice search, as they want to deliver a 100% accurate result. They don’t want to send a visitor to a restaurant that is closed at the time or to provide an old phone number for a garage that isn’t working anymore. Ensure all your data is marked up and is consistent across the web.

Consider On-site Optimisation

I still see so many keyword stuffed titles and meta data. You still need keywords & semantics to be present, but you need to approach this task from a conversational angle, even if this means your key term isn’t the first word of the sentence, shocking I know!

It is hard for us to adapt after years of these tricks working, but this will get you improved results if performed correctly, while the CTR will tend to improve, which can help your rankings in the long term.


Keyword Tracking

I still believe it is critical to track our key terms (even if many rank checkers are slow to add mobile key term tracking), however this is now the slow death of the short tail keywords.

In the travel industry, if you were working on your Spanish page, the number one term was always ‘Spain Holidays’, as this is what most people were typing in. On the other hand, if you were talking to Siri, you’re not going to as ‘Spain Holidays’. You’re much more likely to say something like ‘where are the best places to go in Spain’ or ‘can you recommend hotels in Spain’.

Use tools such as Answerthepublic to find what questions are being asked in your industry. This connects back to your blog & content strategy, as you should also be monitoring your rankings for these long tail questions.


My Recommendation

Use voice search for almost everything for an entire week. Younger generations will easily be able to adopt new technologies, but as many of us having been brought up around voice search, it will still feel a little alien.

It is therefore important to drop your hesitancies or pre-conceptions and use the technology for yourself. Very quickly, you will be using it in the exact way your customer might, allowing you to get deeper into the mindset.


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