Finding your voice in SEO

What is Voice Search, who is using it, and how is it set to impact SEO? Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Text-to-Speech (TTS) is changing search.

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We often talk of how the SEO landscape is constantly evolving. Parallel to this, the voice recognition technology found in Siri, Cortana and Google Now is getting better and becoming more popular, making it a potential influencer for the future developments of search engine algorithm.

How does voice search work?

Voice search uses a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Text-to-Speech (TTS) to determine the intent of a user’s spoken search request. This data is then processed to return a single answer to the user instead of a list of search results.

NLP technology is working continuously to understand users based on their search history and context. In theory, this means that the more voice search is used, the more powerful it will become.

Who is using voice search?

Voice search is not a new concept, but, with Google reporting that voice searches increased by more than double in late 2014, what is new is the ever-increasing surge in its demand, particularly amongst younger users.

Another study conducted by MindMeld in December 2015 found that 60 percent of people only started using voice search in 2015, and 40 percent began using it in just the last six months of the year.

What does voice search mean for SEO?

Voice search differs from the traditional typed searches in both the way it is used and the way it responds. While we typically use the shortest search query possible when typing, for example  “Pub Colchester”; we are far more likely to ask the who, what, why, where, and how questions of natural conversation when using voice search: “Where is the closest pub?”.

For SEOs hoping to win at voice search, it is therefore important to consider incorporating a voice search strategy that focuses on providing answers to the growing number of these conversational search queries.

Implementing a plan of action for voice search lends itself well to the content-rich web environment and the Panda outlook of SEO. As the language of search is evolves, so should our tactics for reaching and engaging with our target audience. In other words, voice search SEO is another reason to step away from old school keyword stuffing, in favour for the creation of genuinely useful content for our target audience.

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