Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is an ever-changing landscape. We describe it as ever-changing because, at least in terms of Google, they change their search algorithm between 500 and 700 times every year!
The art of trying to place the best and most relevant search results in front of the eyes of those looking for them is a constant challenge for companies, like us here at CubeSquared.
Finding the recipe for the secret sauce that is the elusive successful search algorithm relies on dynamic teams working intelligently to give the best results (which will include your website!)
We’re probably all used to going to a search engine, like Google, Bing or Duck Duck Go, typing our query - on a keyboard no less - and hoping that what comes back is the thing we’re looking for. It’s been like that for years, but with our newfound love for digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, Bixby and whatever the Google one is called, is using our voice to search going to be the next big thing and if so, how can we help your website bridge the gap?
A study by analytics firm ComScore suggests that by the end of 2020 (the year, not 8:20 pm) around half of all online searches will be done using your voice. We don’t mean specifically YOUR voice, that would be tiring, but our collective voices.
In addition, research by SEO Clarity shows that 15% of voice searches now start with the words “how”, “what” or “best”. If voice searches are increasing, then your website needs to keep up. How? We’re glad you asked. We’ve got 5 top tips for staying one step ahead (before they change the algorithm again).
1. INTEGRATE SEARCH QUERIES INTO YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
As we touched upon earlier, with the increase in search queries being more question-based, i.e. “What is…”. “How does …” or “What’s the best ..” those types of questions need to play their part in your ongoing content strategy. You have got a content strategy, right? If not, drop us a line!
If you’ve got a blog on your website, then think about what questions your audience are likely to be asking and write posts (or get us to write them for you) that answer them. Are users more likely to ask certain questions if they vocalise them than if they just type them? How do you search?
Build these questions into your blog posts and also on landing pages (if you have them). If you do that, then don’t forget to apply changes to the keywords or phrases on your page description, SEO and the URL itself.
Since May 2015, we have lived in a world where more people search for things on their smartphones or tablet than they do on desktop computers. Not a ground-breaking piece of news we hear you say, but search engines now index the mobile version of your website first.
"So what?" you say. Well, it means that that now, more than ever, your website needs to be optimised for viewing on a mobile device.
At the time of writing, Google hasn't published information on how they identify voice-optimised web content, but it’s safe to assume that having a site that is mobile-friendly, will be the most optimised for voice as well.
That said, it’s not enough for it just to be designed to look nice on mobile. You have to think about how people will navigate your site when on a smaller screen. Can they read the menus? Does it load quickly so you don’t use too much of people’s data? Are the links obvious? If not, you need to talk to us and we can help.
We’re assuming you’ve already submitted your site map to Google Search Console. You probably created one before you started developing your website and certainly when you finished it. If not, and you’re looking at that sentence with a blank look, then let us illuminate you.
A site map is a file where you provide information about the pages, images, videos, and other files on your website. It also includes the relationships between them. Search engines then read this file to more intelligently look or ‘crawl’ your website.
A site map tells the crawler (aka a spider or spiderbot) which files you think are important on your site, but it also provides important information about these files. This can include information like when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed and if there are any versions of a page in alternative languages.
Having a ‘clean’ site map, i.e. one that’s well structured, simple and ordered, means that Google (or any other search engine) can index all parts of your site accurately. It sounds boring, but it means that having your page served up as a query result (including a voice query) is increased.
You also need to keep the site map up-to-date. It’s not a one-and-done scenario. It will need amend it when you add or delete pages or when they become outdated. New pages need to include a relevant URL name, rather than just a strong or random numbers or letters. Also, you’ll need to make sure any hyperlinks you have on your website still work. Did we mention you get all this as standard with one of our websites? No? Well you do.
THE GREAT SCHEMA THINGS
Schema? A what now? It’s not a word you hear very much (unless it's your name - which it probably isn’t), but it’s important when it comes to search. Building on what we talked about in the previous section.
In basic terms, a schema is a little bit of data (microdata if you will) that provides search engines (well their bots) with more information about your pages. This happens so the bots can understand your website better in terms that relate to what someone may be searching for.
In realistic terms, a schema is how any websites at all are able to appear on the pages of search engine results. Sadly you can’t control this part, but you can optimise your site for it.
There are lots of different types of schemas, each associated with a set of properties. The core ‘vocabulary’ currently consists of 614 Types, 905 properties, and 114 enumeration values.
To standardise these, all the large search engines and many social networks have collaborated on a project called schema.org; to (in their words) “create, maintain and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond.”
This shared vocabulary makes it easier for webmasters and developers to decide on a schema and get the maximum benefit for their efforts. So that’s nice of them, but what does it mean to you?
For all the different types of schema, you will come across them through many of the things you do as a business that are included on your site; opening hours, business information, products, events, people, reviews, that kind of thing. If your website has these, then schema is a good thing to incorporate. Make sure you complete all the fields when setting them up though.
If not, you can use Google’s Search Console, then which should identify any schema errors and allow you to complete or fix them.
This is an area where so many companies fall down. When you commit to writing a blog on the site or ensuring your content is going to be found, either via text or voice, it’s something that needs to be kept up-to-date. It sounds easy, but when you’re running a business and there are a million other things to do, it can be left behind. As users start to use their voice to search using the questioning context, it’s worth keeping an eye on what they are searching for so you can adapt your content accordingly. What search terms bring people to your site, what search terms take them to a competitor's site. It’s something you really need to keep on top of.
So there you go. Voice, whilst still relatively new to SEO, is only going to grow in importance. While Google confirmed they are receiving voice search data via their Search Console, they haven’t yet provided a way for people to filter that data just for voice, but we’re sure it’s going to come. If you went back 5 years it would probably seem like witchcraft to be searching for internet results by asking a virtual assistant, but here we are.
If you need any help with your SEO or content strategy, please get in touch and we’ll see how we can help. You can connect with us across many social media platforms. We’d love to hear from you.