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AI and the Role of Voice Search

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Search is changing. No longer are search engines waiting for people to tell them what they want – they are predicting and assuming. Artificial intelligence is driving this change and transforming how consumers behave and search.

To some people, the growing role of AI is creepy, but to us it’s exciting.

Embrace Voice Search

The use of personal assistants is taking off; we have Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri and while voice search is not going to overtake manual searching tomorrow, it’s definitely coming.

Case in point. I struggle to remember how I used to turn my music on. That might sound crazy but for a year, I’ve been asking Google to do it and delegating complete responsibility for my Sunday morning tunes. I listen to things I might not normally, and I’m completely fine with that.

But what about more ‘involved’ searches? What role do we expect of personal assistants then?

For example, when it comes to personal finance products, can the assistant really take over? When I asked Google Home to help me find a mortgage adviser, it gave me a list of potential businesses to dial. The same happened when I asked for cheap car insurance. This wasn’t enough information and I felt compelled to tap away on Google for more details.

I guess the question is: would you trust an assistant to help you make important financial decisions, such as taking out insurance or deciding where to bank? You can hear other people’s reviews, just like you would in a ‘regular’ search – you’re just hearing it instead of physically seeing it.

Optimising for Voice Search

With ComScore predicting that 50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020, what should you do now?

Anyone working in SEO or content needs to start optimising their content for more visibility on Featured Snippets (those summary answers to your queries that are displayed on top of Google search results). Google Home cites the source of information, and it’s usually, although not always, the Featured Snippet they use.

If it’s not the Featured Snippet, you can be sure the answer will be short. The average voice search result is only 29 words in length – but these quotes tend to come from longform editorial content. If you can be the Featured Snippet, or at least provide short and concise answers for some of your prime keywords, then you’re putting your best foot forward.

PageSpeed seems to be playing a major role in voice search SEO too. Backlinko conducted a study with 10,000 Google Home search results and the average voice search result page loaded in 4.6 seconds. That’s 52% faster than the average page.

There are other statistics you probably need to keep in mind when you are optimising for voice search – but they aren’t wildly different from regular recommendations.

Having an authoritative domain is still highly important, as are social shares and having a HTTPS site.

These are all things any SEO should already be thinking about, and that will remain equally important if voice search is on your radar.

Contact us if you have any questions about voice search.

Siobhan is BrandContent’s Head of SEO, you can learn more about her here.

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Sharon Flaherty

Hi, I’m Sharon the Managing Director of BrandContent. Day-to-day I oversee client satisfaction and carry out strategic client work. I work on both established financial services brands as well as challengers and love working on both. In a previous life, I was a journalist at the Financial Times and worked in-house for brands including the MoneySuperMarket Group and leading their Content, PR and Social divisions.

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