Move over smartphones, say goodbye to tablets, and put the wearables to one side for a moment – the biggest battleground for businesses in 2018 is on smart speakers.

Smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod are changing the way that people search, and the numbers surrounding their uptake are simply staggering.

Indeed, according to recent research, the number of smart speaker users is growing by a staggering 47.9% every year. And, in the first quarter of this year alone, an eye-watering nine million devices were sold.

To put that into context, it’s the biggest tech boom since the smartphone.

A big opportunity

The message is coming through loud and clear: voice search is a big opportunity for businesses.

Just as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) came to dominate the digital landscape over the past decade, Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) looks set to take over the reins in the years to come.

In fact, we’d go so far as to say that VEO is the biggest opportunity facing your business in 2018, and those organizations that act now to optimize their presence will find themselves light years ahead of the competition in the years to come.

An emerging discipline

Back in 2000, we set up our agency in order to help organizations take advantage of the emerging opportunities that were being served up by SEO. Now, 18 years on we’re ready to do it all over again with voice search.

Back then the tools and techniques that are commonplace today were only just being developed. In fact, we were working at the forefront of the industry, constantly researching best practices to help organizations stay ahead of the curve.

And that’s exactly the approach we’re taking when it comes to VEO today.

Manufacturers such as Google haven’t yet released any concrete information around voice search query data. No doubt they will in the future, but until they do it’s up to us to identify the best practices to make sure the organizations we work with are coming through loud and clear on voice searches.

To that end, we’ve set up a dedicated team to conduct in-depth research to find out how each device works, and what organizations can do to ensure they have the best chance of appearing in searches.

Our aim is to arm organizations with the information they need to optimize their digital presence for smart speakers before the rest of the competition can catch up.

Potential VEO ranking factors

VEO has a smaller search result window than SEO, indeed only the top three results come up on mobile, and only the top result will be heard on smart speakers. All of which means that investing in an effective VEO strategy is even more important for organizations who want to succeed and reap the benefits.

So what factors are likely to impact your voice search ranking? Through ongoing research and analysis, some of the key VEO ranking factors include:

PageSpeed and Time to First Byte (TTFB):

Important factors of overall SEO, and also a strong factor in voice search too.

HTTPS:

Secure websites dominate Google’s voice search results.

Content and readability:

Because voice search queries are more conversational, Google tends to source voice search answers from long-form content that specifically relates to their query.

Initial research shows that over 40% of voice results for question phrases are generated from Featured Snippets. This means that long tail keywords and FAQ styled content are vital in order to help answer a user’s specific questions.

Whereas someone on a desktop might search for “Mac Laptops” someone conducting a voice search might ask “How much is a Mac laptop?” As a result, the user has to be put at the center of any VEO strategy, with a focus on quality content that is geared towards meeting their real-life intentions, experiences, and expectations.

If you want to optimize your presence for these smart devices then it’s vital that you focus on things like user intent, information intent (such as how-to’s, and best of lists), transactional intent (such as product reviews) and purchase intent within your content.

Social engagement:

Content with high levels of social engagement, particularly shares, tends to perform well.

Rankings:

Web pages that rank highly in desktop search are the ones that are most likely to appear as a voice search answer. Initial research shows that approximately 75% of voice search results rank in the top three for that query on desktop.

Authority:

High authority pages on high authority sites tend to dominate voice search results.

 

Act now, before it’s too late

Experts are predicting that between 30-50% of all inquiries will be conducted via voice search by 2020. But the time to act is now if you want to beat the rush and take advantage of the undoubted opportunity this offers.

VEO is going to be as vital a part of your digital marketing as its traditional counterpart, and those organizations that succeed in this exciting new landscape will be those that optimize their digital presence for voice search from the outset.

Do you want to find out more about how your organization can benefit from VEO? Get in touch with our dedicated team of voice search experts who will be happy discuss the right solution for you.