SEO and Voice Search
Back in 2016 digital thought leaders were claiming that “mobile isn’t what’s next – it is right now”. Effectively mobile has eclipsed desktop as regards the device usage number game and continues to accelerate its claim that in 2018 it is the preferred go-to platform for connecting, engaging and converting customers in the Ecommerce industry. More pertinent are the consumer figures reflecting multi-platform use including large and increasing numbers of online users, many of whom are using mobile exclusively.
With that evolutionary scenario Google introduced an application named AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) as a framework to help enhance the mobile web experience for consumers at large. AMP has to be considered as an integral part of SEO campaigns since Google has included it in its search results. The mobile web revolution has transitioned. The AMP standard is continually evolving with the addition of even more accelerated mobile pages and it will undoubtedly impact present and future SEO services and strategies. However, this is not the most salient issue that challenges marketers and strategists in a world where technology evolution casts yesterday’s innovations aside in favour of today’s more revolutionary technological know-how and digital applications. The new era of mobile web, though well under way, is about to be challenged by another evolving phenomenon – voice search – an Artificial Intelligence software that is gaining traction as the upcoming technology of the 2020s, a digital technology that will be used by the Search Engines to rank voice search sites in the SERPS.
It is incumbent on the world of Ecommerce to prepare for the imminent introduction of “voice search” which is the next big thing to disrupt the status quo in the Ecommerce business industry. It will have an influential impact on the future of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and AEO (Answer Engine Optimisation) that will not only be credible but will require a certain understanding and appreciation of how it will change those marketing strategies. Google is transforming into an answer engine which gives one single result- the right answer unlike the current Search Engine tendencies to let consumers choose from multiple results. This is what marketers have to optimise for in an AEO oriented device environment .
The rationale of the Search Engines has been to chaperon their users through the quickest of processes towards the most relevant answer or result. With the imminent onset of voice search, Google and other Search Engines will have to increasingly rely on understanding and credibility to furnish a single viable result or solution. The key question to this expected future trend is – can online business owners with the assistance of marketers, consultants and AEO strategists, do anything to take advantage of this evolutionary change?
Owners of smart phones, tablets, or PCs are already exposed to voice search which has become smart and capable of answering most queries but not all. That is where AEO takes effect. The problem with answers is that they can be guesstimates, based on the software interpretation of the voice query and provision of a clear informative answer, an incomplete science that requires greater definition. This highlights the need for accompanying AEO which can optimise your website so that Search and Answer Engines can understand the services and products you are selling and provide more authoritative responses to voice search in general. The AEO allows your optimised site to understand the content and purpose of your website. You can manipulate certain elements of your site to optimise it for the Search Engines – make it more visible to the Spiders so they can award it a better position in SERPS. To optimise for the Search Engines there are certain site elements you can focus on to progress the technology so your site stays ahead of the metaphorical posse or online competition. Specific technical facets require focus and amendment where necessary. For example:
- Schema Data Markup – this can be manipulated to allow answer engines to understand the page information and what is being delivered to the user.
- Authority – This imbues the Answer Engine with confidence in your credibility.
- Semantic HTML5 – By sectioning pages, a specific identifiable role can be allotted to each section, encouraging the AEO to focus on certain areas while ignoring others.
The rationale of the Search Engines has been to chaperon their users through the quickest of processes towards the most relevant answer or result. With the imminent onset of voice search, Google and other Search Engines will have to increasingly rely on understanding and credibility to furnish a single viable result or solution. The key question to this expected future trend is – can online business, with the assistance of marketers and AEO strategists, do anything to take advantage of this evolutionary change?
The journey from Desktop to Mobile to Voice Search has seen an evolution in the devices we use. Search behaviour has been impacted particularly by the change from Desktop to Mobile and it is expected that the transformation to Voice will be even more impactful – not only in how users browse and search but also how the Search Engines will provide solutions to users’ questions. If we were to draw up a device use comparison graphic, stretching from the 2000s to the 2020s, we would see a clear progressive trend towards Voice Search – that is the view of the industry gurus. According to them this will have a knock-on effect on SERPS – where page expectations will shift from the first three pages with desktop to the first page with Mobile and top of page one with Voice Search. There is a retrospective belief that more realistically Voice Search will seek dominance in the top three positions on page one, due to the doubt if a single answer will suffice as a response. There will probably be the option of more than one acceptable answer given the diffuse nature of natural speech. Since voice is circumlocutory there will have to be a new evolving SERPS paradigm that will allow Voice Search a little more discretion. It will not necessarily be a ‘fait accompli’ of achieving positioning of page one or nowhere. A likely scenario going forward is – it will probably rate for the top three positions on page one –
which will be considered a satisfactory positioning in the SERPS. One certainty pertaining to this situation is the need to prepare and act now so your online platform is tuned and fit for purpose in anticipation of Voice Search activation and the requisite requirement for AEO strategy creation.
Long term, the trending towards voice search does not intimate the complete dominance of voice search as a device but rather a more balanced spread of search across all devices. The eventual levelling out of digital device deployment will be a natural progression according to the digital experts, however, the evolutionary nature of online search will necessitate platforms to help Google and other Search Engines to understand that your offer to consumers is the best solution. Once you succeed in that objective you then have to convince Google that you offer the best of several options by proving to them your relative credibility. These factors will leverage popularity in a new AEO world of “Answer Engines”. Google is already well acquainted with your brand but still needs to have a clear detailed understanding of what your brand offers so that the credibility factor favours your platform. In relation to the outworking of Search Engine indexing and positive placement in SERPS it is important to remember that it is their understanding of your website and its inherent credibility that gives your brand authority.
As with all other digital developments that have exercised minds in the past and have created unwarranted panic at times, Voice Search is not to be feared but rather considered as another device and opportunity to engage a potential customer base that you can tune into by being better informed and prepared in advance. As an online business why not garner all the positives that Voice Search represents and use it to your advantage. Find out what Google’s review of your brand reveals in terms of public opinion and work to ensure that there is a positive reflection of your brand on Pages 1, 2 and three of your brand name search, suffixing the word “reviews”.