Optimising for Voice, Visual and Keyword Search Trends
As we move into 2019, it’s time to put our sights on the latest search trends and examine how to adapt to keep improving organic reach. In this article, I’ll be re-emphasising the main SEO factors to focus on generally as well as looking to the future in regard to visual searche trends. We’ll also consider the exciting voice search prospects and establish some of the key ways you can ride the voice search trend in 2019.
Traditional Keyword Searches:
While there’s specialised tactics to optimise traditional keyword search results, they’re widely publicised, and going into them would require an entire article (or ten) of their own. The main things to keep in mind include:
- Content length
- Variety of content and media streams
- Keyword density
- HTTPS and site security
- Backlinking and lack of link errors (keep on top of those 401 re-directs!)
- Load speed, domain age, domain registration length and other back-end details
There’s a handy list online about all the confirmed and highly-suspected ranking factors available here. Using a tool like SEMrush is a great way to identify technical SEO problems that are holding you back. Remember, too, that many ‘traditional’ SEO tactics still apply to voice and visual searches; for example, bad hosting and site security are equally discriminated against by voice and visual searches. Read our recent article on how site hosting affects SEO.
Voice Search Trends:
Optimising your website for voice search is essential in staying on top of the latest tech trends. Getting on top of the voice search trend right now is a great way to capitalise on the large amount of Amazon Alexa and Google Home products sold during Christmas. Similarly, the use of mobile voice assistants has increased as the service has gotten better and more sites have adapted to suit them; Siri is the most used mobile voice assistant and has held that position for a couple years. There’s a great PN Digital article covering the main voice search factors, but we’re going to help get you started.
Featured Snippet Optimisation:
This one is huge for voice optimisation. Instead of using site descriptions, you may have noticed that sometimes Google tailors your search with an informative snippet as the top search result. Google voice searches can be configured (and usually default to) reading out snippets. As over 50% of voice assistance usage occurs while driving, this is a fantastic feature to take advantage of.
If your webpage data is well organised, Google will extract the data. In addition to well-structured paragraphs and appropriate use of headings, things like site maps (submit them via Google Search Console) and page dates can go a long way. Oh, and as voice search is praised on being nearly instant, it goes without saying that your site should run as efficiently as possible. (Related: Is Your Website Due for a Service?)
Providing questions and answers based on your expected search terms is one way you can increase the likelihood of getting a featured snippet. Hint: FAQ pages may now become more relevant with the use of informative featured snippets.
Beyond standard SEO tactics like those above, adding Microdata to your webpages is huge. Google recently added Schema integration to aid their search engine in producing relevant featured snippets. Schema is a mark-up language that provides information on your webpage, specific to the type of page it is. Instead of Google simply knowing that your page is a product page, for example, you can lead Google directly to key information including currency, cost of items, features and more.
See some of the templates available for commonly used webpages, like restaurants, events, contact information and more at the Schema website. I’m impressed by what it’s capable of and I really think content marketers and web developers should familiarise themselves with it before everyone else jumps on board.
Visual Search Trends:
Visual search is one of the biggest predicted search trends for 2019. Imagine being at an event and someone is wearing the most fabulous dress you’ve ever seen – within 5 minutes, you’ve snapped a sneaky pic of it on your phone, uploaded it to Google’s visual search tool, found the website you can purchase it from, have placed your order. It will be on your doorstep in 48 hours time.
That is the direction that visual search is trending towards. We are already part-way there – Google does have an image-search tool where you can upload images to find similar pictures, however the tool still requires some finessing and the user experience for the above scenario isn’t that smooth yet. E-commerce websites also need to optimise their content better for this type of search-to-shop experience.
Social media platforms are actually leading the way in this new search trend – Pinterest already allows users to search it’s platform based on images, locating images with similar colour schemes, textures and shapes. Instagram is also heading in a similar direction, with the ability to find an image that you like, and then quickly and easily locate similar images.
E-commerce website have the most to gain from this trend – users can browse their favourite Instagram influencers on their feed, and then when they spot something they like, they will be able to find out where the influencer got that item from, as well as a host of similar (and possibly cheaper) products.
Image Optimisation for Visual Search:
Your images should contain as much metadata as possible (structured data, e.g. pricing as well as descriptive data e.g. ‘fringed orange beach umbrella’ vs ‘beach umbrella’). They should maximise compression without loss of quality, and you should be getting them out on as many platforms as possible. Make sure there’s minimal clutter in the image for accurate detection. If you’ve identified specialised terms that people are searching for (e.g. perhaps ‘tropical’ is what more people search for rather than ‘palm trees’), start adding those into your metadata.
As visual image searching develops and we become better-equipped with visual image search analytics, the tactics will likely require more competitive and out-of-the-box thinking… Just like conventional keyword SEO has evolved. It’s rumored Instagram will make an official reverse image search tool soon, and with the massive amount of sponsored and eCommerce content on there, it’s likely to have a huge impact on the way that people shop online.
We’ll keep an eye on 2019’s search trends and update you throughout the year – if you have any comments or questions, please let us know in the comments section below!