Although voice search has been around for quite some time, it has gained increased popularity in the recent past. Virtual assistants come with hands-free convenience and quick response, allowing people to multitask and smoothly get the information they want. This development presents another factor that website owners and marketers need to optimize their sites for.
If you are yet to optimize your site for voice search, you could be missing out on significant traffic. Luckily, you have come to this post. Here we look at why and how to optimize your website for voice search.
Table of Contents
Understanding Voice Search
Voice search involves using voice-enabled commands to perform a search on the internet browser, application, or phone. In other words, voice search involves using speech to give commands or ask questions to compatible devices like smart speakers and smartphones. Examples of voice assistants include Google voice search, Alexa, and Siri.
Voice search is an advanced technology approach that uses an audio recognition system to understand what the speaker is saying and provide accurate results. For example, if a person is driving and wants to find a gas station nearby, they can’t unlock the screen and open Google and type ‘gas station nearby’ without taking away attention from the road. Instead, they can open their voices and say, ‘where can I get a gas station nearby?’
When users speak to a virtual assistant, they receive a spoken response of what they are looking for. Ideally, a virtual assistant transcribes the human speech query into text and analyzes it for commands and questions. The virtual assistant then searches for relevant information in search engines and speaks the response back to the user or performs the command.
Here are the popular voice search devices and their corresponding search engines:
- Google Assistant: Google
- Google Home: Google
- Amazon Echo/Alexa: Bing
- Microsoft Cortana: Bing
- iPhone/Siri: Safari
- Android phones and devices: Google
As you can see, voice search devices are everywhere, making this technology so popular today.
How Voice Search Impact SEO
When a user enters a search query into a search engine, the search engine needs to understand the type of results the user is looking for to provide the most relevant results. However, it is worth noting that how we type queries is different from how we talk to voice assistants.
For instance, if a person is looking for a coffee shop, their searches might appear like this:
- Typed: ‘Coffee shop near me.’
- Voice: ‘Where can I get a coffee shop nearby?’
Typing involves the use of very keyword-based queries. On the other hand, voice searches are much more conversational, which requires search engines to understand the meaning behind words (semantics).
How we use language can make it hard for machines to understand what we mean (imagine how many words have the same meanings). Search engines need to get better at understanding the meaning behind words that users use. For example, Google has developed updates like Hummingbird that have changed SEO. This and other updates have taken the focus away from keywords toward user experience (unlike in the past, keyword stuffing cannot give you that top spot on search engines).
Voice search optimization is voice-based search engine optimization. Voice search now plays a critical role in SEO and impacts a website’s rankings. It involves optimizing your content, services, location, and other company information to boost rankings in voice search results.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
Here are the steps to take to optimize your website for voice search:
Create Content Based on User Intent
When using voice search, users usually ask a simple question that needs a specific type of answer. For example, ‘what is the keyword search tool’ or ‘what is the best CBD oil product?’ and other such queries.
This gives search engines a pretty good idea of the type of content you should create to rank in voice searches—content that provides answers to specific questions people ask about your business.
One way to know what questions your audience usually asks is to inquire from your customer support. This can include questions like your operating hours or what your product does. Of most importance, don’t provide complicated answers to these questions.
Don’t withhold any crucial information to get on top of voice results. For instance, when it comes to Google voice search, ensure that the information is available in HTML to allow Google spiders to see and serve the content when a user performs a relevant query.
Don’t Ignore Featured Snippet
According to Backlinko, more than 40 percent of voice searches originate from a featured snippet. A featured snippet appears on top of SERPs and contains a brief yet provides a descriptive answer to a user’s query. Google prioritizes snippets since their format is ideal for voice search users and pulls answers from there for users who don’t have enough time to read an entire blog. Here’s how to optimize your content for the featured snippet:
- Keep featured snippet in mind when creating content
- Use bullet points
- Use H1, H2, H3, etc. when formatting your content structure
- Ensure your content provide specific questions to the questions users ask
- Use language that your audience can relate
- Create a FAQs (frequently asked questions) section followed by clear answers to boost your chances of appearing on the snippet.
Optimizing your content for featured snippets will not only make your website optimized for voice search but also works best for lead generation and conversion.
Focus on Long, Conversational Keywords
Keywords are still a critical component of SEO—they are vital for your content strategy and help respond to user intent.
The main feature that distinguishes voice search is the use of long sentences in the queries—like when talking to a person. People make queries using significantly longer text strings while the smart assistants deliver responses to all these queries.
As such, use long, conversational keywords when it comes to SEO for voice search. Since people use questions when doing a voice search, use or include question-type keywords in your website to increase your chances of appearing on voice search results for relevant queries.
Another crucial thing to remember when choosing keywords is using natural language keywords. Ideally, use terms that you would use when searching for a specific query using a voice assistant. The goal is to use the most relevant keywords for voice searches in your niche.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
You cannot separate voice search optimization and mobile friendliness. Google states that about 27% of the world’s population uses voice search on mobile. Going by this, making your site mobile-friendly should be your top priority.
When optimizing your website for search voice, pay special attention to mobile-friendly content with a mobile-first approach:
- Ensure your site is responsive
- Create a summary on the top of each post
- Ensure your content appears naturally on a small screen
- Optimize images and videos for mobile viewing
Alongside optimizing your website for mobile, it is important to include features specifically helpful for voice search capabilities like AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
The same applies when you enter a website domain that you’ve visited before into your search bar. For instance, if you type ‘go’ into the search bar, the search engine will fill it with ‘google.com’ because it remembers how often you visit that page.
While you can utilize the AMP feature for any page, you should focus on pages that answer common questions from your audience or provide more info about your business. Here are tips on how to optimize your website for mobile use:
- Use a responsive design
- Simplify your navigation menu
- Eliminate pop-ups
- Optimize page speed
- Optimize images
Focus on Site Speed
Page speed plays a role in mobile and desktop searches and is a great determiner of user experience. Page speed is also a ranking factor in voice search results. On average, users get a voice search result in 4.6 seconds (about 52 percent faster than text searches). And since search engines focus more on providing users with a better user experience, optimizing your site for speed will increase your chances of achieving a voice search result.
- Avoid redirects
- Optimize images and video size
- Remove unnecessary plugins
- Eliminate unnecessary cookies and reduce cookie size
- Put JS and CSS in external files
You can always hire a website designer to help improve your website speed. Remember, a faster loading time will not just provide a better user experience but also improve your rankings.
Optimize for Local Search
People are likely to use voice search when looking for local information. You probably have used voice search when you are out and about and want to find something quickly—you only need to take your smartphone and ask a question. That means you need to give much emphasis to local SEO.
Local searches make up about 46% of total searches (mainly consisting of engaged buyers). The local audience are people who can get to your store quickly, which makes local SEO an essential part of brick-and-mortar businesses.
Like regular SEO, you need to create content that resonates with the local audience and integrate keywords into your copy. To ensure you answer questions from the local people:
- Add ‘near me’ in your title tags, internal links, meta description, and anchor texts
- Use phrases that people use when describing your neighborhood
- Describe landmarks around your business location
When done right, local SEO will help improve voice search optimization and your rankings in general.
Claim Your Google My Business Listing
If you have ever done a Google search (whether voice or text), you will agree that people rarely look beyond the Google listing at the top of the search results. In most cases, people pick a business from the Google listings and call it directly from there (sometimes without visiting the website). That explains why you should claim your Google My Business listing.
Since most people use voice searches to find important information about your business like address, contact number, and operating hours, provide Google with accurate information about these details.
This information helps Google understand your business more, including its products, when it opens, location, and other helpful information.
If a person searches for a ‘coffee shop near me,’ ‘where can I buy CBD oil near me,’ or something similar, they will see the Google listing followed by a few directories in the search results. For better search results, consider listing your business in other directories. Directories rank higher than individual websites because they have more pages and keywords than what a local business can achieve on their website.
Secure Your Website
According to Backlinko, HTTPS websites make up 70.4 percent of voice search results. If you are yet to buy an SSL certificate, it’s high time you did it.
While HTTPS became a ranking factor in 2014, about 45 percent of websites have not purchased SSL certificates. To increase your chances of ranking for voice and regular search pages’ results, implement HTTPS on your website.
The use of schema or structured data can help increase your chances of ranking in voice search results. Structured data is a form of microdata that helps search engines understand information on your website and what it means.
While people mostly use voice search for local searches, voice searches also involve other things. Local SEO can’t help in such queries, meaning you’ll require a different strategy. This is where structured data comes in—it helps make your website stand out from other websites on the SEPPs.
For instance, if someone searches for ‘CBD recipes,’ they will see virtual search results categorized under ‘recipes’ and videos.’ These results will include websites that use schema. The better the search engine understands information on your website, the more likely it will pull your website to answer specific voice search queries. Since these results will grab the user’s attention, they won’t need to look further. Your website might get more traffic than those ranking on top of Google’s search results.
Don’t Ignore Regular SEO
The new aspects do not mean that you should ignore SEO basics. The more you adhere to regular SEO, the more search engines reward you. Top things to remember include:
Build a strong backlink strategy: Use relevant keywords in page title, URL, header tags, meta description, within the copy, and other on-page elements (of course, don’t overdo it)
Ensure your website is secure: Focus on creating a solid online presence and a better user experience to enjoy a considerable share of traffic
These are the top techniques to optimize your website for voice search. If you have any questions about voice search optimization and SEO optimization, reach us today, and our SEO and web designs experts will come to your aid.