November 28, 2015
Smartphones are now at the center of Internet access, together with a host of other mobile devices. However, they have one major challenge: the discomfort of typing using small keyboards. Enter Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Now, the virtual assistants behind voice search that are slowly gaining popularity.
Voice Technology and Its Capabilities
Telecommunications companies are heavily investing in making their voice command capabilities accessible on all devices. Amazon’s Alexa is certainly at the top of the pack, with its ability to respond to user commands to initiate carious tasks and source for information from the Internet. It is fairly popular for its ability to recognize voices located far from the device e.g. across the room.
For an SEO expert however, the buck probably starts with Google Now, Google’s version of voice technology. Google Now works differently in that it gathers information on users’ behavior and uses this information to anticipate their needs. For instance, the Google Now app may give you traffic updates a few minutes before you start your commute.
With Google Now, customers can select and customize their cards and set up reminders for virtually everything. The wakeup phrase is “Okay, Google”, after which you can ask virtually anything. Nexus devices have Google Now integrated, while Android devices may access it using Chrome or the app itself. Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana work in just about the same way.
Beating the Advancements
There are a number of technologies behind proliferation of voice search and no doubt the level of accuracy of voice search tools will improve with time. Presently, webmasters need not worry about implementing any markup codes in order to rank for voice search results. For now, the same SEO best practices seem sufficient to maintain high rankings.
However, it’s important to remain updated in your performance across different systems. You can do this by using voice search – Siri, Cortana, Alexa or Google Now – to search for your company and the common phrases you’re targeting to see whether there’s a difference in the realized results.
The following are a few things to plan for:
- Users using full questions/conversational speech rather than key phrases;
- Direct, natural answers;
- Long-tail keyword optimizations;
- Emphasis on sentence-based search rather than keywords;
- Semantic search and keyword tagging;
- Movement towards special markups for voice search; and
- Higher emphasis on optimized videos and images.
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