Voice Search, Duplicate Copy, Burritos and More: Banc’s Day Out at Search Elite

Last week, two members of Banc’s Technical SEO team went to the Search Elite conference in Manchester, coffee was enjoyed and a burrito was eaten. Obviously, a lot of information about the power of search was taken in, and we have put together the main takeaways from the Search Elite conference.

Firstly, our SEO Manager Ryan loves using his voice in the office and often ponders using your voice to search.

Over the past decade, we have seen some awe-inspiring technologies come through the public domain, from 3D televisions to augmented reality eyewear but many of them either are phased out and never heard of again or given a quick, sudden death. However, with every ‘fad’ comes a technology which can help sculpt the future of online interaction and voice search could be one of those technologies.

During a recent visit to the Search Elite conference in Manchester, we listened to an interesting concept on how voice search is used today and how it could be used in the future. Simon Penson gave a fantastic talk which demonstrated just how much voice search is currently used day and how important it is going to be in coming years.

He covered key top-line facts and findings to help demonstrate the important factors we need to guarantee our sites are best optimised for voice search.

We were too busy talking SEO to take photos, but it looked a bit like this.

We were too busy talking SEO to take photos, but it looked a bit like this.

 New Generation of Searchers?

Throughout the talk, we saw that around 55% of teenagers use voice search compared to 40% of adults. It’s not the first time we have seen that the younger generation is getting to grips with cutting-edge technology, but it is still encouraging that there is still a strong number of adults using voice search as well.

Story of Intent

We learnt that with each vocal search query, the intent changes along the way, depending on the answer to the question. So, a vocal query could start as “What do I need to make beef wellington?” but quickly change to “Where can I order puff pastry tomorrow at 9am?”. The intent started as a research-based question and ended in a potential conversion.

Getting the right answers

As we all want to find the best answer quickly when using search engines, using a mobile or desktop search would give us 10 search results on the first page. However, using voice queries we only gather one search result rather than a list of 10.

Simon stated, that to reach that one result from voice search we will need to focus on achieving that featured snippet result within the search listings. Featured snippets these days really help improve traffic coming to a site, but with voice search it will return the featured snippet as a more descriptive result for the user.

Here at Banc, we always want to ensure we are targeting featured snippets where possible, obviously this depends on the types of queries which are being used and the content on the domain too. Whilst voice search might still be in its infancy trying to get onto its hind legs, a featured snippet listing is key to return a voice result, and can also help bring in more traffic to your website.

We didn't take any photos, so we just found this one of random models grinning awkwardly.

We didn’t take any photos, so we just found this one of random models grinning awkwardly.

Secondly, our Senior SEO Executive James thought Dawn Anderson’s speech around the Myths of Duplicate Content was one he couldn’t miss. Below, you’ll see why it is key to keep an eye on what is duplicate content and why it is important to keep refreshing your pages.

Search engines are aware that a significant portion of the web is made up of duplicate content. As such, duplicate (and near duplicate) content is not crawled as often as regular content because Google’s algorithm knows these types of pages don’t tend to change as often.

To help demonstrate how duplicate content can take many forms, here are a few of the most common:

  • Full duplicate – perfect duplicates
  • Partial duplication – different URL, similar text
  • Document inclusion
  • In-document inclusion
  • Local duplication

Google makes use of dynamic contextual search when generating its search result pages. There may be several candidates for the best results to show for a particular query.  Results are generated depending on the perceived context, situation and need of the searcher.

The strategy behind your site content should be to “not bore Google”.  You will know when your site consists of high-quality, well-structured and interlinked content, as this will be reflected in a spike in the number of pages crawled per day in your Search Console crawl stats.

You should reinforce your site structure with the use of well-maintained sitemaps, Search Console parameters, appropriate canonicalisation, management of faceted navigation, appropriate pagination markup, management of broken links, and tactical pruning of redundant content.

Caution should be observed when pruning content as it can be easy to fall into the trap of simply removing pages which are perceived to be performing poorly.  There may be value in recontextualising this content elsewhere, so run any potentially-removable URLs through SEMrush to see which keywords they appear to be topical for.  This content from poorly-performing pages can then be added to pages which are performing.

Internal linking is an often-overlooked tactic and you should take every opportunity to build strongly connected components. Building a content hub can be an excellent strategy to help enable this (lists of links can also be very powerful).  Google implements a form of topical crawling, so labelling topics and items as part of a category via the use of internal links helps to reinforce the relevance of your content. Search engines love categorisation and a strongly-connected section of related pages will help to emphasise topical importance.

In some cases, the use of boilerplate copy is unavoidable (e.g. pulling in content from a supplier website for product page descriptions). In these situations, it is a good idea to support these pages with unique content which adds value and meets the needs of the user. A good example of this could be to add a Q&A section that users can contribute to.

So, there you have it – these were the takeaways which really got Ryan and James from Banc’s technical SEO team excited at this year’s Search Elite conference.

If you’d like to chat SEO with our technical team, get in touch with us on [email protected]