How Voice Search and Google Direct Answers are Changing SEO

The science of SEO changes on a regular basis, and most webmasters are forever trying to keep up to date with the changing algorithms.  One thing that Google has made us aware of is their plans to enable search engine users to search by voice.  This comes as little surprise, especially considering their latest mobile update, but it is something that webmasters need to be aware of.  With Google now placing a lot of importance on Direct Answers as a response to voice searches, it’s vital that you take a look at your current web content and consider making changes to it in order to take advantage of the changes.

The Statistics

As of Autumn 2014, 55% of teenagers and 41% of adults used Google Now, Siri, or Cortana voice search at least once each day.  Voice search is built into all manner of phones including the Apple iPhone and the Windows Phone 8.1, and it is often a lot easier for someone to use voice search than type out a query.  The accuracy of speech recognition has also dramatically increased over the past five years with Google claiming to have an error rate of just 8% as of April 2015.

Direct Answers on the Rise

According to a test run by Eric Enge, the CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, Google provides a Direct Answer result on around 19.5% of all search engine queries.  Two years ago, Direct Answers were not in place, and one year ago, this figure was just 4%.  It is clear to see how much has changed just over the last year, so we can expect Direct Answers to become even more commonplace over the coming months.

Google is more likely to respond to voice searches with Direct Answers because they are predominantly done via mobile.  Mobile searchers often want a quick and easy answer to their search query, and do not want to be provided with pages of search results.  With mobile searchers wanting immediate results that are easy to view on small screens, this trend is set to continue.

What Can You Do?

If your website provides information that is already in the public domain, you may want to consider publishing new information, as Google uses public domain information for a large number of voice search queries.  However, a site’s authority may also play a part in whether it is used for Direct Answers.

Other sites that are used in Direct Answers are those that are proven authority websites that use natural, easy-to-read language.  Ideally, you need to include the possible questions on your site, and then answer them in easy to understand language that is quick and clear to read.  You also need to restructure your current webpages so that the more important information is listed close to the top of the page.

Voice search and Direct Answers could soon change the way that we look at SEO.  The sooner that you get involved, the larger the advantage you will have.