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Voice search: the new frontier of igaming SEO

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Voice search is a massive opportunity, especially for challenger brands and affiliates with ambitions to take on the major operators in search engine rankings, says Blueclaw’s Martin Calvert.

Voice search is a massive opportunity, especially for challenger brands and affiliates with ambitions to take on the major operators in search engine rankings, says Blueclaw’s marketing director, Martin Calvert.

According to Amazon, Echo devices are being sold at a rate of “thousands per minute”, with Google, Microsoft, Apple and more all getting in on the action to make voice search a part of our daily lives.

In the home or on mobile, voice search has become the norm for millions of us and that includes betting customers.

Mobile searches already outnumber desktop and tablet searches, and by 2020, 20% of mobile searches will be voice searches, according to Comscore. That’s a lot of searches. Igaming companies need to act now to take advantage of how voice and mobile search differs.

The new frontier of search
We all know that people search differently across different channels. At a keyboard, we’re accustomed to typing in just a few keywords like ‘racing tips Ascot’ or ‘betting odds Chelsea’, trusting that search engines will understand what we’re after.

With voice search, be it on a freestanding device like Amazon Echo or Google Home, or a mobile/tablet voice assistant like Siri or Cortana, we’re happy to give the search engine more to work with.

Using full sentences and, more specifically, asking full questions such as ‘what is the weather forecast?’ or ‘who is the favourite for the Grand National?’ comes naturally to us when speaking, and often results in follow-up questions e.g. ‘what will the temperature be?’ or ‘what are the odds that the favourite will win?’, and all this affects how we must think of SEO.

As much of a headache as this may be for SEO analysts and betting and gaming marketers who had got comfortable in their strategies, it’s also a big opportunity to dominate what is still an under-optimised channel.

Optimising for voice search in betting and gaming
At Blueclaw we’ve settled on two key areas that we consider to be fundamental to optimising for voice search in gaming.

1. Answer customer questions and their follow-up questions
Question-based searches are the norm in voice search, so having ample website content in questions and answer format is key. This content must reflect the conversational approach used by customers with no ambiguity about the answer – quote back the question in the answer if need be. The rise of voice search gives new life (and value) to FAQ pages.

Grouping together common questions, for example around a particular sporting event or type of game (e.g. ‘how to play online poker’- type queries) to anticipate follow-up questions is a great approach that helps voice searchers, but also people who are already on your site.

An additional benefit to increasing this type of content is that it makes betting more approachable to audiences who might never have placed a bet or played a game and not know how to get started.

If FTDs are a priority for your gaming brand (as they should be) this is very significant. It’s important not to just guess the questions that people are asking, look at search trends and top-performing FAQ pages and gather data.

Once you’ve compiled a solid list of questions and statements that experienced players and newbies ask, develop a structured and prioritised plan to create content pages that focus on those longer, more conversational search phrases, questions and queries.

2. Prioritise snippets, schema and structured data
The rigorous approach to content creation outlined above may seem like overkill, but it’s all to play for in the growth area of voice search, especially as not every betting brand will be ready for, and in some cases even aware of, the fight.

Voice search takes place within a wider context where there is a renewed focus from search engines on giving accurate answers and semantically understanding your website content.

In short, search engines are starting to think more like humans, so your SEO and voice search strategy must be more engaging, user-focused and human too.

Schema.org is a way of organising your web content by identifying in the source code what it is about. It’s a shared standard used by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and others which helps to remove search engine guesswork i.e. you can tell search engines that when you write ‘Chelsea’ you mean the football team, not the New York hotel.

The question-oriented approach outlined above must be backed up with a rigorous approach to schema and technical SEO to maximise your chances of being given as the answer to voice search queries.

As an added bonus, your chances of showing up in ‘featured snippets’ in search results also goes up.

Summing up
Combining a human understanding of how potential betting customers use voice search with a thorough technical understanding of code is the key to voice search.

Voice search is a massive opportunity, especially for challenger brands and affiliates who want to challenge the major operators in search engine rankings.

Not everyone is up for the fight. For those who make a priority of voice search, the traffic volume and profit is there, but you need to make a start now.

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