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Is voice search the future of SEO in India?

By Anil Kumar Singh , Ogilvy & Mather | In Digital | June 20, 2017
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The author, an O&M executive, surely seems to think so.

With smartphones getting cheaper and reaching millions of hands every day, the world is going completely mobile. Previously people used to talk over phones; now people are busy talking with their phones... only.

It is estimated that over 20 per cent of mobile searches are voice searches. Teens and adults are using the voice search functionality to perform various tasks - to call someone, ask for directions, find out about movie times, get help with homework, etc. The way in which people use search engines is shifting to the quicker method of voice search. All thanks to Google's commercials that say "Talk to Google".

Is voice search the future of SEO in India?

To bring more precise answers, search engines are also pushing local results forward on the basis of search relevancy. If on says 'hospital near me' to Google, notice that Google displays all possible local listings of hospitals that are in close proximity to one's current location. For local searches, the search engine might need the location feature enabled on the smartphone.

Anil Kumar Singh

Voice search is also synonmously popular as a personal assitant like Siri for iPhones, Google Assistant on Android and Cortana on Windows. The popularity and adapability of voice search is increasing so rapidly that dedicated voice search device/personal assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home have made their way into large number of homes.

All these personal assistants fetch information from various sources like Yelp, City Search, Yahoo! Local, Reserve Travel, Open Table and local directories for local searches. Listing of category-specific search platforms, like Zomato for food/restaurants, MagicBricks for property, Nearbuy for deals, etc., can also be seen in top search results for various local voice search queries.

So, all you business minds out there, don't forget to ask the SEO expert to get your business listed on relevant local listing sites and directories. Also, Google's free business listing service known as 'Google My Business' plays a major role in local searches. With the help of SEO efforts, like ensuring site crawability by search engines bots, and optimising content with essential business information like 'Name', 'Address', 'Phone Number', 'Directions' and other information asked for through voice search, businesses can attain the top position in voice search results.

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In the future, voice search will completely change the face of conventional search where people used to type short and precise phrases on tiny screens. Voice search is making search more conversational, natural and detailed, resulting in the need for more enhanced and optimised content as per the user's need.

People don't use voice search as they do conventional 'typing' search. In voice search, a user will talk in detail, say, in question format, or with more intricacies, for example, 'find movie show near me at 9:00 pm'. This would require businesses to generate content in a more customer-centric way, think about how a customer speaks, and also consider the type of questions and thoughts that come into the customer's mind while searching.

Businesses will also need to take into consideration the longer words and phrases that are used in actual speech. To tune content relevance and accuracy to voice search results, SEO is a must in general. With the help of SEO, businesses would be able to enhance visibility in voice search results by targetting long-tail keywords and optimising content on the basis of voice search behaviour and trends. Also, insights about website analytics gathered from the SEO team could help businesses alter content strategy and assess it on various parameters like location traffic, page traffic, category interest, consumer consumption behaviour, etc.

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The increasing number of voice searches in India is the reason Google is constantly putting efforts into understanding local Indian languages and accents. To win the race of voice search, SEO will play a major role for businesses in the days ahead. To come up in the top search results and stay lighting fast in feeding content to user, SEO will be crucial.

To prove this, sample this research finding by Google: Mobile bounce rate is 9.56 per cent higher than desktop. This is because the mobile user quickly switches to another result when they find the previous result poorly optimised or when there are other issues like poor page speed, low quality content, low relevance of the content, etc.

So, folks! Don't just stick to typing words and optimising websites for conventional searches; choose the road of Voice Search SEO and stay ahead of competition.

(The author is National SEO Director at Ogilvy & Mather India)

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