A recent study on Voice Search with data gathered and analyzed from 10,000 Google Home search results can change the game of SEO. In it, the research has investigated the role of the 11 potential ranking factors on voice search results. And the discovery definitely gives new insights into how you should optimize your website for voice search.
Fast Page Loading Speeds have an Advantage in Google Voice Search Results
The study has found out that the average voice search result page loads 52% faster than the average speed. This equates to 4.6 seconds compared to the 8.8 second-loading time of most pages.
Another important data is related to the TTFB or the Time to First Byte, which, for those who come up in the voice search result, takes only .54 second in contrast to those who don't with 2.1 seconds.
One reason why this is the case with Voice search is Google's recent "Speed Update". Basically, this update puts more importance on the site's loading speed than before. People nowadays are becoming more impatient and want fast answers to their online queries. So with that, the consequential event towards site speed is inevitable as Google continues to improve their system to become more user-friendly. Google's voice search algorithm would certainly place the page loading speed as an important factor in the results ranking.
Therefore, if you want to improve your voice search results ranking, then make sure that the page loading speed of your website is fast—to be exact, in 4.6 seconds or less.
HTTPS-Secured Websites are most Common in Google's Voice Search Results
So few people take notice of this. However, the security of your Hyper Text Protocol (HTTP) is actually an important factor when it comes to Google's voice search results. It has been found that 70.4% of Google Home results pages for voice search are HTTPS websites. This is even bigger than those search results for desktop or mobile, which is only 50%.
While it cannot be fully claimed that HTTPS can really boost your voice search results rank, the data should remain as evidence that it can help you rank in voice search. HTTPS websites account 70.4% more than the other 50% of results on Google's first page. So to improve your chances of appearing as a voice search results, then it is better to take advantage of this data and implement HTTPS on your website/s.
Google Prefers Short and Concise Snippets on Voice Search
Snippets are an important factor in SEO since it provides a peek into a website's content. But more than that, it is where most answers on voice searches are found. And the shorter and more concise they are, the more they are in voice search results.
So what is short and concise really mean? The study has found an accurate answer to this. That is, the typical voice search result in only 29 words long to be exact.
As we have mentioned, people now want fast answers. And giving them lengthy content does not serve them. Therefore, the results have to be very brief and straight to the point. So if you are optimizing your content to rank in Google Home or Google assistant, then redo your snippet and make it as short as possible or approximately 29 words long while still maintaining to give direct answers.
Schema Doesn't Really Factor Much in Voice Search Results
Contrary to expectations, the use of the Schema markup code for optimizing your web pages doesn't really hold much bearing on voice search results. In fact, in the study conducted, 36.4% of voice search results come from pages that use schema. This is only a little higher than the worldwide average of 31.3%. The difference is, therefore, not as significant than what one would believe.
Furthermore, to show that this is the case, 63.6% of voice search results do not use Schema at all. So putting it as an important factor that impacts voice search rankings would not be rational.
Nevertheless, it is significantly important to add that while this may be the situation, we can't invalidate the fact that Schema can improve your search visibility on any platform. So it is still very helpful. It is just that in voice search SEO, Schema might not have much impact on the results.
Domain Authority is Significantly more Important than those that are not in Voice Search Results
We all know how much Google continues to improve its algorithms in order to give out the best and most reliable answers. One of the best ways they can assure this is through Domain Authority. Now to understand this, let us backtrack a little.
Backlinks are important in Google's desktop and mobile algorithm. However, its role in voice search is still unclear. So to find out whether it is a significant factor, the study analyzed the results based on their Domain Rating and Page Rating. These are metrics developed by Ahrefs to evaluate a website and page-level authority.
What they found out after this is that the average Domain Rating of a voice search result was 76.8. In the SEO industry, this is a considerably high DR. On the contrary, they found that the Page Rating of a voice search result was only 21.1. This means that the link authority of voice search result pages was significantly lower.
These two findings explain how much Google prefers Domain Authority over Page Authority. Going back to what we said above, this helps ensure Google that they are giving out accurate information. Therefore, Google doesn't really care much about the number of links pointing to the page itself. Rather, it goes to a trusted website with the plausible voice search answer. Google's Voice Search algorithm emphasizes more on trusted and authoritative domains.
Highly Shareable Content Ranks Well in Voice Search Results
Now that social media has spread out more, we can't deny the fact that it currently plays an important role in search results—particularly in voice search for this case. This means that you have to take into consideration how good your content is. And by good, we mean shareable on Social media.
The average voice search result, as gathered in the study, has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets. So high levels of social engagement on various social media platforms definitely fair well in voice search.
Now you may be thinking that the high numbers may seem too hard to achieve and even impossible for all results on the rankings to obtain. And we are with you on that. In fact, it is even harder nowadays to get five shares on Facebook.
What this suggests is not on Google's algorithm using social signals since that case is still unlikely. However, what all of this means is that valuable, engaging content tends to perform much better in any search engine environment, including voice search. Having great content pushes forth your ranking as a voice search result solely for providing valuable information. So it greatly helps that you put more effort towards creating your website's content.
Simple and Understandable Content Helps with Voice Search SEO
Still on the topic of content, creating not only good and valuable ones helps with your voice search result. You have to add simple and understandable to the equation. What the study found, to be more precise, is that the average Google voice search result is written at a 9th-grade level.
To simply put this, the simple the language used, the easier it is for Google to understand the pronunciation factor in the voice search. However, just like the one above this, this finding does not necessarily and directly mean that the voice search algorithm factors the reading level. But still, it is an undeniable fact that content that is easy to understand makes sense for voice search. After all, Google would want simple words that are easy for it to pronounce. Also, these words should be easy for users to comprehend without any visual reference. And finally, challenging words or phrases are not usually looked up.
Therefore, it is very plausible that Google may consider reading level for voice search ranking factor. So keep your content simple and understandable.
Not A Lot of Voice Search Results Contain the Exact Keyword in their Title Tag
Compared to desktop searches, creating individual pages for each voice search query that you want to rank for is not as effective in voice search SEO. Only 1.71% of voice search results actually use the exact keyword in their title tag. That is a pretty low number to even be considered as a factor.
If this is the case, then it would align to two reasons as to why this is. One is that 20% of all mobile searches are now voice searches with it being predicted to grow to 50% by 2020. This means that it would be impossible for Google to find a page that is dedicated to every query. What it does instead is explore the entire page for the best match for that particular voice search.
The second reason is the differing purpose of users in voice and desktop searches. Voice searches are 76.1% longer than text-based searches. This means that it would be less likely to have the exact phrases appear within the limited space of a title tag. So again, what it does is search the body of content instead.
The takeaway for this is that title tag optimization does not necessarily play an important role in voice search SEO. So you can get rid of the burden of creating individual pages that are optimized for individual keywords. Of course, if all of this is just for voice search.
Long Content Ranks Best in Google Home Searches
Compared to snippets where you have to be short and concise, contents on your website have to be long in order to rank well in the search results. To translate this into numbers, the average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words. Google results predominantly source answers from content with a high word count.
The reason for this is not what you expect. It is not due to Google's preferences. Rather, it is highly in the game of chance. This means that the more words there are, the more opportunities there are for the voice search result to "match" and find the answer. So you may want to consider publishing longer content.
Another thing to add to this is the form of your content. Usually, voice search queries are long, question-based queries. This is perfect for FAQ pages since these are in a format that matches voice search: conversational questions with brief answers. And statistically, a significant 2.68% of voice results came from FAQ pages.
To put it all together, longer content, as well as FAQ pages, could increase your chances of ranking on voice search results.
Having a High Ranking in Desktop Search Influences Your Voice Search Results Ranking
In the study, a whopping 75% of voice search results that rank in the top 3 are contents that already rank highly in desktop search.
This would mean that optimizing your website for both kinds of searches may come in handy as it helps each other boost rankings. So what you do is boost your desktop search ranking of content for a specific keyword and this will likely lead to Google choosing that page as the voice search result.
Of course, this, as well as the rest of the factors above, should come together to make the search results rank well in Google. Not much can be said if you are only using one way to reach a high rank.
Becoming a Featured Snippet Could Help in Your Voice Search Ranking
40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet. This is understandable since featured snippets are ideal voice search results. They are concise and come from trusted and authoritative sources. For this, you will have to look at the ways you can improve your content to appear in a featured snippet. Nevertheless, being on one seems to help, yet not necessarily required, to rank in voice search.
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