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Should I adapt my website for voice search?. By Fiona Sands, Designtastic

Making online searches via voice command has long been a feature on smart devices.

Most people only use this feature for accessibility purposes, or in specific circumstances: when you don’t have any hands free, for example, or when it’s simply faster to say your search aloud (we’re looking at you, Sky Q search function!). But with speech recognition tech getting increasingly accurate, voice searches are expected to gain more and more traction going forward as a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) trend.

While voice searches aren’t having an overt impact on SEO quite yet, it’s definitely something brands should be considering. But why? In today’s blog we’ll be outlining why you might want to bear in mind voice searches when you’re optimising your website for SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). We’ll also be touching on some optimisation tips, as well as the accuracy of speech recognition tech in its current state.

Why should businesses optimise their website for voice search?

Typically, when people use voice commands, they word their commands differently than if they were typing. They’ll speak more conversationally, which will affect the exact words or phrases they’re searching for online. If we were using the regular search function to find a PDF editor, for example, we would probably search for that exact phrase: “PDF editor”. Whereas if we were speaking aloud using voice search, we might instead say something like, “how do I edit a PDF?”. It’s a less deliberate, less focused request.

And, much like in real conversation, we might also not know exactly what we’re going to say until we’re actually saying it. This is yet another factor that could lead to longer, broader searches than if we were typing.

How can I optimise my website for voice search?

There are no hard and fast rules just yet. Voice search optimisation is still very much in its infancy. But there’s one practice that certainly can’t hurt: question and answer style content (like in this very blog!). Try to make the headers in your content match the questions people might say, aloud, to search for that content. Including questions as headers has always been good practice in SEO- because people have always Googled questions- but you might want to make it more of a priority in the future.

Specifically, you could consider having a dedicated ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section under every article… as long as you remember to include the answers too!

It’s also worth remembering that many day-to-day voice searches will have local intent. You might ask something like, “Where is the nearest Thai restaurant?”, for example. Location-specific keywords and phrases should stand you in good stead for searches of this ilk, as well as optimising your Google Business profile.

Are voice searches actually accurate?

Speech recognition technology is getting more accurate all the time. Even the more mainstream examples, like dictation on Apple devices, have come a very long way since their inception. Elsewhere, there are entire speech recognition platforms dedicated to specific sectors.

On most devices, speech recognition and voice searches are remarkably accurate. And as these features become more and more accessible, it’s only natural to expect an uptick in the number of people searching with their voice.

Conclusion: should I adapt my website for voice search?

It’s not something to be immediately concerned about, but going forward, it certainly can’t hurt to consider voice searches as part of your SEO strategy. And remember: while the way consumers search may be changing, the key to an optimised website remains quality, reputable content.

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