woman with a surprised look after an intenet search

How to Optimize For Voice Search

Google claims 50% of searches will be conducted using voice search by 2020.

Are you prepared for this seismic shift in SEO?

As a website or business owner, your primary aim is to enable potentially interested customers to find and purchase your products or services.

If consumers are increasingly using voice search to gain information, optimizing your site makes sense.

By implementing the latest digital marketing strategies, you can stay ahead of the competition and have the first mover advantage.

What is voice search?

Voice search is users using their voice via a device, usually a phone or home assistant to make a query via a search engine or digital assistant.

Voice search growth statistics have exploded with the introduction of ‘smart speaker’ devices, such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s new HomePod.

These devices have proved to be wildly popular, meaning that voice search is no longer just a fancy toy that you use a few times when you get a new phone and then forget about.

Voice search has made its way into our homes, and the trends suggest that it’s here to stay.

How many people use voice search?

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How does voice search work?

Voice search uses speech recognition to understand a query that a user is making, and then tries to find an online match that answers the query.

With mobile phones, this usually directs a user to a web page. With smart speakers, it’s more likely the speaker will read out the information that best answers the query.

Who are the industry players?

Tech titans have developed their own brilliant digital assistants which go by specific names.     

  • Google developers provide its users with Google Home. You can get answers to your questions by asking a speaker that sits on your desk.
  • The Apple gem is Homepod and is where the famous Siri gives her answers to your questions.
  • Amazon has the Amazon Echo. That is the home of Alexa’s voice and platform to provide you with answers.
  • Microsoft’s voice assistant is Cortana. A superb technique to receive the answers to your queries.

Surprisingly, Google is playing catch up to Amazon.

When Google decided to up its game with its search engine overall domination, it did not hold back on any punches. As with anything the media giant incorporates into their plan, Googles determination to remain the leader over the past decade had the others scrambling to compete.

Over the past decade, Googles team took many bold steps toward this superior, impressive goal, and one measure they chose in exciting advances is in the natural language processing and voice search technology. Also In that mix is Google voice search optimization.

Pure convenience is just one thing Google voice search has going for it; it is altering the way Google processes search queries, how searchers seek information and your attitude concerning search engines altogether. 

The Differences Between Traditional Search and Voice

When people perform a search using their voice, they use very different terms for the search.

That means that the old-style keywords just aren’t going to cut it. Voice search optimization is a specific technique to optimize a website to respond to the new trend for voice commands.

Understand the Four Fundamental Differences Between Voice and Text Search

  • The Length of the Query

When you type in key phrases or keywords, you are more than likely typing in unclear queries. For example, if you are looking for new cameras, your text query will usually be short. You may type “new cameras in 2018.”

However, if you were using voice search, your search query would be longer. You will probably ask, “what are the newest cameras in 2018?” Notice the difference in length? Therefore, with the next voice SEO campaign you plan, keep this in mind. 

 Voice searches are 76.1% longer than text-based searches.

  • There Will Be Many Questions

There will be many more questions compared to statements. Most people use short queries of 3-5 words with text searches. With digital assistants longer natural questions are often queried.

  • The Intent Will Be Stronger

After you optimize for longer key phrases, you will likely target an extremely niche segment of your market. However, the intent is incredibly strong. The reason for this is because they reached your site due to their queries being relevant to your content.

  • The Local Impact is Major

Voice search usage compared to text search is three times more likely to be used local purposes and be location specific. Location signals are developing as crucial optimization aspects that every company needs to take into consideration.      

How Are People Using Voice Search

How to optimize your website for voice search?

It’s clear from reading Google’s Voice Search rater guidelines that they want voice search results that are very brief and to-the-point. Content that is easy to read and comprehend performs better in voice search.

Foundations of basic SEO come into play including:

  • Domain Authority/Trust
  • Current Rankings
  • Website speed

Let’s look at what you need to do to ensure that your site is optimized.

Start By Researching Keywords

Search using voice rather than text, means that keyword length increases due to the nature of how we speak.

We do not say “maid service,” as we might type into Google search. We say, “do you know of any reliable maid services in the area?”

Although we are speaking to a device, the experience remains founded in human linguistics. Additionally, many voice-enabled machines bypass results options and instead, direct the searcher to a product’s action.

For example, if you say, “Order Chinese Food.” Google Home is not as likely to verbally recited a list of all the available options. It might take you to the nearest Chinese restaurant which delivers to your address.

keywords used to rank a site

Research and Optimization

Keywords have always been crucial to SEO.  However, the keywords for voice SEO are not always the same.

To understand why this is the case, think about how you might ask a question of Google if you were typing.

If you wanted to know the opening times of a store, you would type: “opening times [store name].” 

However, with speaking is more natural to say: “Siri/Alexa/OK Google, what are the opening times for [store name]?”

One of the essential components of voice search optimization is long-tail keywords that are similar to the questions people ask of smart devices.

These devices encourage a more conversational tone.

You can ask the Google search assistant how they are, or what their favorite song is. Users are driven to engage with the tech as if it is a person.

This means keywords are often phrased as questions.

How can you apply this to your specific website?

Firstly, you need to think about the search terms that people may ask that your website can answer. Look at the keywords that have brought searchers to your site in the past.

These keywords can then be turned into questions. For example: “best pizza in Dallas” becomes “What is the best pizza in Dallas?”.

Create an FAQ page for your site

This FAQ page allows you to source further long-tail keywords about your content. 

Ask yourself: “What questions I am frequently asked regarding my business, products, or services.”

For example, if you are a photography expert, then you may frequently be asked:

“how do I set up a tripod?”

 “what is the photographer’s golden hour?”

You have likely answered these kinds of questions using your expertise a thousand times before, but in this instance, these often-heard questions are incredibly useful. Why?

Simple: these questions you are overly-familiar with can lead to the identification of additional long-tail keywords regarding your area of interest, which your site can then seek to answer, and you can optimize.

Frequently asked questions provide valuable content. Phrase the questions in the first person, as someone might ask them. Then offer short, informative answers.

It is also important to optimize for keywords that are genuinely conversational.

For example, take this example:

  • “Hotels close to the beach in Cancun.”

When this is phrased as a question using a voice command, it becomes:

  • “Which hotels are closest to the beach in Cancun?”
  • “Where can I find hotels that are close to the beach in Cancun?”

The addition of “I” and phrases like “that are” make the difference between a standard keyword and one that is genuinely conversational.

Where are Voice Query Results Coming From?

Remember earlier, when I talked about how some queries are read out by a smart speaker or device to the questioner?

These answers tend to come from Google’s Answer Box, which is featured in search results right at the top of the results page. This is sometimes referred to as a “featured snippet” or position zero.

Optimizing your content, so it’s most likely to appear in the Answer Box gives you an immediate benefit when it comes to voice search optimization.

The Answer Box tends to work well for the following kinds of searches:

  • How-to guides
  • Calculations and conversions
  • Health (particular symptoms of illnesses)
  • Requirements
  • Processes
  • FAQ
  • Question-based queries

Your content is more likely to display in the Answer Box if:

  • It ranks well organically. Without having solid SEO and rankings, appearing at the top of the SERP’s is not going to happen.
  • It is, in short, easily digested paragraphs.
  • Includes how to or answers questions
  • It is optimized for long-tail, questioning keywords.
  • It contains lists that Google is easily able to understand.

The key to appearing in the Answer Box is to ask yourself;  have I provided the best answer to the question?

Optimize for Local Search

Update Your Local Listing and Develop Your “Google My Business”

Many voice search queries are for information about places users wish to visit. That could be a particular query such as “Pizza place in Rome.” Alternatively, a suggestion query like, “what are the best pizza places in Rome?”

In this scenario, the best keyphrase that is worth optimizing is “Pizza places in Rome.” However, if an individual inputs something more general, like, “pizza places near me,” Google will instantly track the user’s location and make suggestions for relevant nearby places.     

The words “near me” is a keyword that is universal and one you should remember. Whenever the two words are present, Google’s voice search algorithms go to Google business listings. That is where your brand’s name needs to be listed and present.

Make sure you set your profile up with your name, email or address and phone number for every user that finds your business. By making this information available, you are helping with ranking your site with Google in the local search world.

Optimizing for Mobile Voice Searches

We already know that over half of search queries are coming from mobile devices, and Google has found that 20% of mobile searches are voice searches. These numbers are likely to grow, so solid mobile optimization is of key importance for incorporating voice search into your overall strategy.

There are a few basics that you need to ensure you’re achieving to achieve proper mobile optimization.

  • All resources on your site should be crawlable.
  • Reviews are important to rank for best of searches.
  • Focus on local content. Local queries are three times more likely on mobile devices than standard desktops.
  • Be hyperlocal with title tags and meta descriptions.
  • Ensure your site has a responsive mobile-friendly design

Creating an action plan

 Voice search is exploding, you need to be ready to embrace it. Voice search devices are now reasonably priced and available on a multitude of platforms. It is only a matter of time until they as prevalent as microwaves in households all over the world. This will ultimately influence vast changes in search linguistics. 

As a local business owner, you need to adapt your current and future content to a more modern voice search approach. If you already have good rankings, this won’t be difficult.

Here are some steps you can take to execute a strategic voice search plan.

  • Evaluate the keywords that are drawing visitors to your site and turn them into questions. These questions will then form the basis for keywords that are relevant to voice search.
  • Start with a thorough evaluation of your existing website, and its content.
  • Produce new content, especially an FAQ page to help you simply capture long-tail keywords in a natural form.

While there will always be a place for White Hat SEO Best Practices, any site that genuinely wants to embrace the future will need to adapt in order to do so. Voice search is, without question, the most logical SEO transition for all local businesses to make. 

Key Takeaways

Voice search is a trend that is on the rise and not going away anytime soon. Being prepared means staying abreast of all the pertinent information. It means combing through old content and verifying its quality in regards to voice search and creating sophisticated voice search optimization structure for future content.

It is fast and convenient, and that is what society is seeking: Technology that will help with reducing the time it takes to complete tasks.   

Learn about it, put it to use, and watch your business explode.

Research all the Official Documentation

Any questions? Let me know in the comments.