Another year is almost over, and it seems that the world around us changes faster than ever before. In a naturally fast-paced industry like SEO, one feels it especially clearly. SEO is changing, and changing rapidly — Google admits to making over 3,200 changes to its search algorithms over the last year alone. On the one hand, it means that even the most popular websites cannot afford to rest on their laurels. On the other hand, it shows that an energetic and ingenuous underdog can snatch these laurels right off them by following the right trends. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at voice search and other trends that are most likely to be hot next year.
1. Voice search is on its way to domination
The most significant change with the most far-reaching consequences we are dealing with right now is the rapid expansion of voice search. Even now, 20 percent of all searches are voice, with a projected growth to 50 percent over the course of the year 2020. Up to 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by that time. By 2020, 55 percent of U.S. households are expected to have smart speakers.
In the long term, it is likely to become just as important a milestone in SEO evolution as the mobile revolution. It is not a quantitative, but qualitative change, forever changing the nature not only of search but of the Internet in general. Now you have to optimize your website for mobile if you do not want to lose a vast majority of your potential audience. Very soon, voice search optimization will be just as important a must-have. The earlier you start moving in this direction, the better. However, achieving it involves so many variables and requires you to deal with so many experimental solutions that it may be wiser to delegate it to a professional agency to provide onsite optimization. It would be able to work on it full time rather than to try and acquire all the necessary competencies yourself.
2. Google’s features snippets are the way to go
These days, when you Google something, one of the first results you get is usually a direct answer to your query in the form of a piece of text, a list, or a table. Most of the time, the snippet is taken from one of the top-10 search results (the one Google believes is providing the best answer). Here is the most important part, SEO-wise: More than 40 percent of Google Home search results come from featured snippets. In other words, if you want to get your piece of voice search, you will have to learn how to work with featured snippets. Here are some things you can do:
- Prefer long-tail keywords. Even in text search, 70 percent of queries are made using long-tail keywords – for human beings, it is just a more natural way to express their thoughts. Voice search makes the use of isolated keywords even more unlikely. Therefore, you have to think not only about what questions your audience has, but also how they tend to ask them;
- Give short and informative answers. Give as much information in as few words as possible. Featured snippets usually are 40 to 60 words long.
- Let your headers and title tags repeat the same question as to the keyword search. If, for example, you write about time management for students and you want your snippet to answer the question “How to manage your time in school?” then put it in your title tag (the headline may be different).
- Optimize your old content. These tips are not just for the new content – you can make your old posts more likely to get into snippets by adapting them for that purpose.
3. Security above everything else
With cybercrime incidents getting into the news more and more often and causing greater and greater havoc both among individuals and among businesses, the attention to online security has never been as high as it is now. If a user does not feel safe when visiting a website, he/she is likely to leave immediately. Some browsers require additional confirmation to visit pages they see as “not secure.” Therefore, enabling HTTPS protocol on your website is not just a security precaution, but an SEO measure. In addition to providing an encrypted and authenticated connection, it makes your page more attractive for search engines. Mentioning Google voice search again, over 70 percent of Google Home search results are protected with HTTPS.
4. Speed is more important than ever
Loading speed has always been important and became even more so with the growing share of mobile surfing. According to the often-cited statistic, 53 percent of Internet users claim to regularly leave a page if it takes more than three seconds to load. It seems that voice search makes people even less patient than they used to be; Google knows this and offers answers that meet this demand. Voice searches load about 50 percent faster than average. In other words, the faster your page loads, the more likely Google is to offer it in search results.
5. Simplicity is golden
Another feature heavily emphasized in voice SEO is the readability of content. Voice search seems to prefer simple, easy-to-read and easy-to-understand texts: its average results are written at the 9th-grade level. It is yet another reason to check your speed for overly complicated words and structures: write too complex a text, and you don’t just run a risk of your visitors leaving without reading it to the end, but that of Google never showing your content to them in the first place.
Voice search on your website: Say it loud
Voice search is still emerging and far from reaching its full potential. Whatever you do now is more preparatory work rather than anything else. You prepare the groundwork for the changes in the SEO environment that are still going on. Do not worry if you do not see immediate results — when voice search reaches a certain critical mass, you will quickly reap the benefits of your foresight.
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