There are roughly 118 million smart speakers in American homes today. And, research shows that three out of five adults use voice search to find information on the internet. Many believe next year, half of all searches will have shifted from the keyboard to the microphone. I know this may be hard to believe, but take a moment to watch the people around you to see just how often they are talking into their phones and smart speakers. Consumers can not only buy and schedule appointments online with their smart devices, but they can even search television shows and entertainment content from their remote controls.
Still not buying the hype around voice search? Consider this: Google has stated that 20% of all Android apps are now voice searches. Now, combine that statistic with the fact that voice search now has a 95% accuracy rate. I don’t think this is a fad. And, while researchers and digital marketers try and make predictions on how vastly the landscape will change in the future, the fact remains voice search is here to stay.
But what are the variables and ranking factors that contribute to the pages selected by voice search?
backlink IO conducted research to get a better understanding of these key performance indicators and found 80% of all answers came from the top three organic search results. In fact, more than 70% of the answers came from featured snippets.
In addition, by looking at backlinks, the Page and Trust score was higher for answered URLs. And, keywords found in the page title that matched the voice query were an important indicator that was found in over half of the selected results. Last but not least, a myriad of other contributing factors like text length, simple text readability (8th-grade level), page speed and well linked (externally and internally) pages were all a part of the search results rubric.
A misnomer and outlier that wasn’t part of the rubric and also surprised most experts was the majority of non-selected answers used schema heavily while HTTPS and URL depth was not a significant factor. This tells us Google is more concerned with how many clicks it takes to get to the page from the homepage instead of focusing on the number of backslashes that are after the URL (i.e., https://www.example.com/leadership/executiveve-leaders/mike-jones).
So how can you improve your website to reap the benefits of voice search?
Good question, I’m glad you asked.
Remember, 97% of all voice results are from the top 10 organic search results. This means that these pages already have an existing first-page ranking. In order to position your content into potentially selected voice search results, your content should be heavily optimized from an SEO standpoint.
The average word count for a voice search answer is between 41 and 43 and seems to be true across multiple devices. It’s vital to make sure you are thinking about creating content in such a way it could answer a question a user or audience members may have. After all, 70% of selected answers are from SERP features. Creating well structured and well-written content that matches the user’s query and intent is ultimately what search engines are looking for.
Another best practice is to ensure the readability of the content is simple and formatted in a way all levels of users can read and digest the information.
Additionally, ensure your website is loading fast as Google has continued to re-emphasize the importance of users having a good user experience on websites. And, be certain to focus on making sure your pages are well linked both externally and internally as Google Home and Mini selected voice search answers that had keywords in both the backlinks anchors and page titles.
“So, Alexa, is my site ready for voice search?”
If you have questions about how to get your website ready for voice, contact us today.