Leading SEO site, Backlinko, recently undertook a major study of over ten thousand voice search results. Its findings were not only interesting but informative, highlighting the things which websites need to do to rank highly for voice searches. When you take into consideration the growth in the number of voice searches, these actions become crucial if companies want to maintain their organic traffic levels in the future.
How voice search is increasing
The growth in voice search is powered by the wide number of devices that can now recognise speech. These include laptops, phones, watches, smart speakers and other smart devices like TVs. It is estimated that by the end of next year, half of all searches will be done by voice and a third of them on devices which have no screen.
The key user of voice technology is the younger generation. 66% of voice searchers are under 35 and these are also the demographic that owns most of the smart speakers and other devices. Important, also, is the fact that according to a 2018 Global Web Index survey, 75% of mobile voice searchers made an online purchase in the previous month a key indication that voice search is being used for shopping.
With this growth in mind, here are eight important statistics and their implications for websites.
- The average spoken search result is around 30 words
This figure indicates the average number of words spoken back by a device when a voice search is given. It is the vocal equivalent of a knowledge graph or featured snippet shown on a screen. The importance here is that it underlies the need for sites to provide succinct rich snippets or answers to questions which search engines can use to give spoken answers. Those sites that do this have a better chance of being chosen.
- 36% of voice search results are from sites which use structured data
Google has been asking webmasters to use structured data to markup their websites for several years as it gives it a clearer understanding of what the site’s content is about. Many sites, however, have failed to make progress with this. The fact that over a third of voice research results come from those sites, is a clear indication that it’s helpful in getting you ranked.
- Voice results come from sites with high domain ratings
The company Ahrefs has a globally acknowledged rating system that is used to rank all websites from high (100) to low (0) based on the quality and size of their backlinks. In voice results, the average site had a rating of 77. This figure is a key element of your domain authority as it signifies how well your content is linked to by other high authority domains.
A score of 77 means a website has around 6,000 to 7,000 backlinks from other authority domains. The hint here is that creating quality content that others want to link to is a crucial long-term strategy for those who want to do well in voice results.
- The average voice search result performs well on social media
It is not just getting backlinks that has an impact on voice search results. A page’s performance on social media has an influence too. The average result has almost 1200 shares on Facebook and over 40 Tweets. This is a key indication that search engines are taking other people’s views into consideration when they produce their results.
- The average reading age is 14
With the average voice result having a reading age of just 14, it means making the vocabulary of your content accessible if you want to rank well in voice searches. However, that doesn’t mean dumbing down too much. A reading age of fourteen might not seem very sophisticated but the average UK reading age is said to be nine to eleven and The Sun newspaper has a reading age of around eight. Fourteen is the reading age of the Guardian which is by no means a dumbed down read. Bear this in mind when creating your content.
- Few voice results had the exact search term in their title
This is further evidence that advances in Google’s algorithm have reduced the importance of keywords. Using RankBrain, Google can understand the whole of your page without having to focus just on the keywords in the title, meta descriptions and headings. The good news is that this allows you to concentrate on creating content for the user and not for the search engine.
- The average page had a word count of over 2000 words
While the number of words spoken back by a device averages at around 30 words, the pages from which they come often have over 2000 words in their content. The implication here is that when voice searches are carried out on devices with screens, Google is focussing on providing detailed, long-form content.
If this includes product pages on eCommerce sites, then one can only assume that those products with lots of customer reviews perform best. Normally, very few product pages have anywhere near such detailed content.
- 70% of results on smart speakers are from sites which use HTTPS
HTTPS is the secure form of HTTP, the protocol that controls how information is formatted and transmitted across the internet. The difference between them is that HTTPS encrypts data, making the transfer of personal information, such as banking details, secure during purchases. Those companies that use HTTPS are labelled as secure on browsers with the green padlock icon. Those using old fashioned HTTP are labelled not secure.
The 70% figure is a clear indication that search engines have a preference for HTTPS in their voice searches and that companies wishing to rank well need to adopt it. To do so is simple, all you need to do is purchase and install an SSL certificate for your site.
As voice search becomes more widely used, it is increasingly important that websites optimise for it. The statistics produced in this survey shows the factors that influence how a website performs in search results and, hopefully, the finding shown here can help you to make your site perform better for voice searches.