Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 87 – Is Voice Search Finally Killing SEO?
Increasingly, travelers are turning to voice search on their smartphone or voice assistant for the answers to their queries. In this week’s episode of the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast, we break down these changes, what it means for your hotel, and give you some proactive tips to ensure that you’re prepared for the SEO-volution.
With all of the changes that Google has made over the past 5 years, SEO has been dead more times than Kenny from South Park but it’s still driving significant traffic and revenue to our hotels. With that said, the latest calls for the demise of SEO may have a little more credence because this time, it’s not about SERP changes, it’s about a definite shift in consumer behavior.
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“The destiny of Google’s search engine is to become that Star Trek computer, and that’s what we are building.” – Amit Singhal, the head of Google’s search rankings team
Fun Facts About Voice Search:
- Nearly 60 percent of searches are now performed on a mobile device., according to Hitwize.
- 82% of mobile users regularly perform a search for local business
- 18% of local searches result in a purchase within 24 hours
- In 2017, 20 million smart assistants were shipped. Amazon and Google made up the majority.
- Voice labs found that there were a total of 33 million voice-first devices in circulation.
- Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that one-fifth of the queries on Google are voice searches.
- Chinese search engine Baidu’s Andrew Ng speculates that by 2020, approximately 50% of all searches are going to be made via voice recognition technology
- Voice search is more conversational and natural as opposed to the keywords guest may type into a search engine. This often makes the queries longer than text queries.
What Is The Semantic Web?
Google launched a major algorithmic update in 2013 called Hummingbird. It was a major enhancement in Google’s ability to consider the user intent and contextual meaning of queries. This was great for good marketers, because it favored folks who focus on providing outstanding content and penalized keyword-stuffers. Voice technology takes this to a whole other level with the innovations in Natural Language Processing (NLP) to attempt to infer information about the true meaning of what the searcher is looking for,
Ranking Factors For Voice Search
BackLinko analyzed 10,000 Google Home search results to correlate 11 factors with the voice search rankings. Here are the key takeaways:
- PageSpeed appears to play a major role in voice search SEO. The average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than the average page).
- HTTPS websites dominate Google’s voice search results. In fact, 70.4% of Google Home result pages are secured with HTTPS.
- Google prefers short, concise answers to voice search queries. The typical voice search result is only 29 words in length.
- Schema may not play a key role in voice search rankings. 36.4% of voice search results come from pages that use Schema (which is only slightly higher than the worldwide average of 31.3%).
- Authoritative domains tend to produce voice search results significantly more than non-authoritative domains. In fact, the mean Ahrefs Domain Rating of a Google Home result is 76.8.
- Content with high levels of social engagement tends to perform well in voice search. In fact, the average voice search result has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets.
- Simple, easy-to-read content may help with voice search SEO. The average Google voice search result is written at a 9th grade level.
- We found that very few voice search results had the exact query in their title tag. Therefore, creating individual pages for each voice search query doesn’t appear to be an effective voice search SEO strategy.
- The average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words. Therefore, Google tends to source voice search answers from long form content.
- Content that ranks highly in desktop search is also very likely to appear as a voice search answer. In fact, approximately 75% of voice search results rank in the top 3 for that query.
- Appearing in a Featured Snippet may help you rank in voice search. 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet.
How To Optimize Your Hotel For Voice Search
Claim your Google My Business listing
Many voice search are local in nature, which means that the results page will often feature the Google local listings. It’s essential that your Google My Business page is claimed and optimized.
Make your website mobile-friendly
The majority of relevant voice searches for hotels will be performed on a mobile phone as opposed to a voice assistant. The logical next step for the traveler is to visit your website. Make sure it doesn’t suck.
Be sure that all the relevant NAP information is visible
We know that most voice searches are looking for local information such as directions, opening hours, etc. Be sue that your name, address, and phone are highly visible, as well as check-in, check-out times, opening hours at the spa, etc.
Bonus Tip: Utilize AdWords’ Location Extensions or Google Maps Local Search Ads to target “near me” type queries.
Use Conversational Keywords
Start writing down the questions that people actually ask your reservationists and front desk staff and be sure to use the same language and nomenclature in your content strategy.
Build Kickass FAQ pages
Use the questions from #2 as a starting point to build out comprehensive information that covers all of the potential questions. Be sure to group these answers in relevant categories.
Bonus-tip: Also, be sure to add these FAQs on relevant pages throughout your site. This will help improve your conversion rate.
Use Structured Data
Use structured data markup from schema.org in order to make it it easier for search engines to accurately understand your content.
Build out 10x content for the most frequent questions
When a question cannot be answered within a paragraph, take the time to build out robust and useful content that earns the right to rank top of the search engine results page by being 10 x better than everything else that’s currently available.
- Natural questions will be more effective than traditional keywords. Example: a text search may be “Hotels near me” as opposed to a voice search, which may be “What are the hotels near my current location?”
- Write in short sentences and small words to make it easy for quick visual scanning on a mobile device.
- Use descriptive headlines that are succinct and meaningful
- Use white space and organize the content to make it easy to digest at a rapid pace.
- Avoid using fluffy/filler content. Get to the point.
- Look at how people are finding your site within Google Search Console to see how they describe your product
In The Newsies
Google’s Duplex AI Making Real Word Calls
PII Identifier for GA: https://online-metrics.com/pii-google-analytics/
Hint – look for page URLs with email addresses or other identifiable attributes passed as variables
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