It’s a familiar scene. Friends are sitting around the dorm when someone suggests they order a pizza. One of them grabs her smartphone and says into the mic, “Who has good pizza near me?” The phone comes back with suggestions to pick from. While comprising a large share of mobile search now, voice search will increasingly acquire a bigger share of the search pie. The dominance of mobiles over desktops is fueling voice search and by 2020, voice search will be here to stay.

If you own a business, you need to plan for voice search today in order keep up with this inevitable evolution in search. You don’t want to face a steep learning curve when the technology begins to truly arrive and your competitors are already at ease with it.

Today, you can hope to do well on search only if you rank on the top half of the first page of the SERPs. As voice gains traction, the battle for the number one rank on search will intensify. You should start preparing for the battle ahead. By 2020, we will have a much clearer picture of the split in traffic from desktops, mobile, and voice. The new decade will be the decade of voice search and with far more accurate results than what we are getting today from text-based searches.

In fact, according to Comscore, one out of two searches in 2020 will be a voice search. And, three out of ten searches will be conducted without a screen. The big thing with voice search is that there can be only one accurate result. And the searcher will go with it. This is why you need to work as hard as possible to rank number one for your search terms. Over the next few years, the top-ranked terms will get a disproportionate share of the business.

As of now, four out of ten searchers use voice for searching at least once a day. The use of voice for searching on Android apps is rising. Four out of ten people using voice for search have begun doing so in the past year or so. The number of people using AI search assistants like Siri and Cortana is on the rise.

Perhaps the most striking piece of data regarding the growth of voice is that one out of four searches on Microsoft Windows 10 desktop are via voice. Nearly 100% of mobile owners have used their voice-driven personal assistants at some point or the other. Already, an impressive 33% of mobile users are using such personal assistants regularly.

Voice-activated systems such as Google Home and Amazon Echo have created a major technological disruption and people using these devices are clear that they are not going back. This is the way forward. Amazon Echo users are already using these voice-activated speakers to execute functions such as playing music and shopping on Amazon.

Wal-Mart has now jumped into the ring to try to narrow Amazon’s lead in services delivered through voice. They have partnered up with Google on an ambitious plan to deliver voice-based shopping. Wal-Mart users can link their store details with Google Express shopping service and shop for groceries through voice. Personal recommendations based on shopping history will offer an enhanced shopping experience. Such collaborations will provide Google with rich data on how to mainstream voice search.

Mobile searches invariably have a local intent, and with voice the trend will continue. Clear voice-based questions will demand accurate answers. It is up to you to ensure that the answer points to your business.

Steps you can take to get your website ready for voice search.

1. Prepare your website to be ready for semantic search queries.

This can be tricky. In the future, your smart device will understand context so you have to be ready for both explicit and implicit requests. An explicit request may be “Where can I get a cold soft drink?” or “Where can I get something to quench my thirst?” An implicit search would be “I need something to drink.” Three different searches that can arrive at the same answer. One way to segment possible responses is by adding context, action keywords reflecting where people are on the shopping curve: information on…, buy at…, go to…

2. Use long-tale keywords.

People speak much faster than they type. They also include more words. The more words in a search, the narrower the search will be. Write content on your website what is conversational in manner. If you can bury FAQ responses to some common queries without making it obvious, that would be a huge lift to your voice search related traffic.

3. Use Schema Markup.

Schema markup allows search bots to have a better understanding of your page. It defines specific information that search engines can use to understand your page.

4. Increase your page speed.

It’s logical, someone in too much of a hurry to type in a query isn’t going to wait around for a page to load. According to Backlinko.com, “The average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds.” That is 52% faster than the average page according to their study.

5. Follow the other rules for mobile SEO

These include using https instead of http, keeping your answers brief, less than 30 words if possible. Responsive design websites get far more preferential treatment than websites that are not responsive.

If you think you need help getting your website ready for the future of online search, give us a call or send a message. We’re here to help

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