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How has voice search influenced the evolution of SEO for e-commerce?

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It will not be wrong to call Google’s goals lofty, but it would be wrong to call them impractical. Over the last decade, the leading search engine has set several landmarks in the world of digital marketing and search engine optimization.

They have achieved almost all the goals, if not all of them. Very recently, Amit Singhal made a statement about Google becoming the “Star Trek Computer” at the 2013 SXSW interactive. Since then, the search engine giant has incorporated several changes and released several updates that have taken Google closer to its fictional inspiration.

Experts often say that there is more to voice search than the convenience of the use, and that is true. The succession of voice assistants and the rise of the mobile have ensured that voice searches grow by at least 150% per year. In short, it has revolutionized the topography of search and SEO.

How does Google Voice Search work?

Those who are new to the realm of the hands-free search must learn about the features of Google voice search before we proceed any further. People, who have used it before need to read it too since it will allow them to optimize their website content according to the new demands of the search engine.

To begin the voice search on your smartphone, you will need a “wake” phrase. Google usually goes with “OK Google”. It is the same for voice searches on tablets and laptops. It yields similar results to that of “near me” searches on the desktop. However, the SRL (search result list) for mobile users and desktop users are starkly different. Try this – open your voice search and ask for the directions to the nearest “Agency for SEO Toronto” on your mobile and desktop individually. Next, compare the search results on each device.

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How does the difference in SERPs arise?

When you ask for directions to the nearest agency or office in Toronto, Google displays a list of results appropriately meeting the question format of the voice query. Research shows that when people use voice assistants, they prefer to use conversational queries that include questions and complete sentences, rather than isolated keywords. Therefore, websites that have answers to such question format queries and matches the long-format queries rank better on mobile voice searches than they do on desktop queries.

So, what do websites from Toronto have to do to acquire higher ranks? Do they have to keep separate sections for the voice search category? Do sites have to double the volume of content to satiate the needs of the voice search users from the city? It turns out all your website needs to do is update its FAQ, discussions, forums and subheads formats. Altering the heading 1, H2, and title tags can create wonders for your rankings in the mobile SRLs. You will have to shift the core of your SEO from keyword-based strategies to semantic search strategies.

What is semantic search?

It all began with the launch of Hummingbird. The algorithm update that shares the name with a powerful, but a rather tiny bird, whipped up a storm in the SEO world. With Hummingbird, everything about SEO simply changed. Website rankings went haywire, and several sites lost valuable outbound links. Their keyword game was on point, they had link building strategies in place, and their marketing outreach was optimal. Something powerful came and changed the landscape of digital marketing overnight.

With the rise of Hummingbird came the dawn of semantic search. User intent and micro-moments became more critical than they ever were before. For keyword research tools it was impossible to tell apart the different connotations of the keywords in the different contexts, so it became the responsibility of the SEO expert, content creators and digital marketers to decipher the mysteries of the industry-specific keyword lists.

Months went by, and it was still tricky for Google to “understand” the intentions of the user’s intent. That was at least five years ago, and people had not yet started to associate search engines with machine learning and artificial intelligence. With the new update, Google finally found a way to “learn” and “evolve” its ability to understand the search intent of relatively ambiguous searches. Google’s ultimate objective was to improve their user’s experience. Soon we got the RankBrain machine learning system that not only “learned” but also implemented the lesions from previous user searches to analyze the intent of the new searches of a user based on their search history, location shopping history, likes and dislikes.

How does semantic search help users?

Semantic search brings forth the concept of context that previous Google queries never had. For example –run a search on a city, Toronto. Use Google Voice search to ask “what is the capital of Ontario?” Next, ask, “What is the lake next to Toronto called”. After a couple of similar queries, when you ask the search engine “what is the tallest building in the city?” or “what are the famous landmarks” the search engine will automatically assume that you are still on the same subject and show you results for the same city! The same is true for any celebrity, politician or author.

If that is not cool, we do not know what is.

How does it help businesses?

When people look for services and products in their locality, they can see your business on top of an SRL if you are playing the right keyword games. Once they go to your website, Google will “remember” it as one of the preferences. So, anytime in the near future, when the person looks for another service or product your brand offers, Google will serve your links up on a silver platter to the person. Moreover, people like visiting known links than unknown ones. If you earn a good reputation with Google, the search engine traffic will keep flowing. That is the only reason you need to focus on optimizing for voice searches and semantic searches right away.

Now, you can also track voice query date on the Google Search Console. It helps in cross-linking multiple platforms. We live in a multi-device world, and your company needs to leverage that. Catering to a multi-device clientele means you need to customize your SEO options for each device.

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