7 steps to optimise your voice search SEO strategy
It’s common to see people asking their phones questions, using smart speakers to turn the lights off, or talking to their car speaker at an intersection. For businesses to remain competitive, marketers must create highly-optimised content that matches user intent and facilitates the convenience consumers seek.
Optimising for voice search requires hard work and a strategic approach, but it’s essential in today’s fast-paced digital world. In this article, we’ll examine the impact of voice search and how marketing teams can optimise their SEO strategy to achieve maximum results.
What is voice search?
Voice search involves using speech to find information by asking devices like smartphones and smart speakers questions. Instead of typing a query into the search engine directly, users can simply speak, meaning there’s no need to type or hold a device.
Voice assistants can be used for several consumer-related operations. They can answer questions, play music, place online orders via e-commerce stores, and much more.
Nowadays, voice search goes beyond the consumer realm. Voice assistants have numerous applications in the B2B world, too. Businesses can incorporate voice assistant solutions to optimize workforce operations in several ways, from their store inventory control to their call centre CRM software.
How does voice search work?
In a nutshell, automatic speech recognition technology is used to feed input signals to compatible voice search devices such as smartphones, tablets, car speakers, and more.
The basic functions of virtual voice assistants include:
- Processing human speech and live transcription.
- Analysing text for keywords, questions, and commands.
- Pulling information from search engines and feeding it back to the user.
Voice assistants pull information from various data sources and search engines. When it comes to optimising content for voice search, it’s crucial to understand where voice assistants pull information from and ensure your content team understands the implications. The image below shows where the most popular voice assistants source answers to search queries.
Some devices with screens may display the results, while all other devices will speak back to the searcher. The conversational style of any voice search device is one big reason for its popularity and demand.
Voice search is becoming more advanced by the day as machine learning becomes more sophisticated when it comes to understanding user intent and processing natural language.
How does voice search compare to traditional search?
Voice assistant users all over the world use voice search for various informational and transactional queries. Voice search allows you to do everything that traditional search does.
Besides the fact that voice search doesn’t require users to type queries into their device, there are three key differences in how voice search works. Let’s take a look.
Local search intent
One of the main reasons people turn to voice search is to find information about local businesses or nearby services, with voice search queries 3x more likely to have local intent. For that reason, businesses that don’t optimize for voice search are at risk of losing out on potential customers.
Conversational keywords and semantics
Another key difference between voice search and traditional search is how questions are phrased. With voice search, users tend to have a more conversational approach with long-tail keywords and questions. For this reason, semantics is particularly important.
Semantic search refers to how the search engine understands the user’s intent. Semantic search results enable the search engine to provide users with the most relevant results instead of exact keyword matches. Businesses need to rethink their content strategy approach for a site to be optimised for voice search.
Search engine results
Voice search doesn’t require a screen interaction. Instead of viewing the search result on the screen, users can hear them play back to them. As a result, the way that search engines select the results they decide to present differs from traditional text-based search. Search engines typically select rich results or featured snippets to playback to users. For this reason, it’s crucial for businesses to follow SEO best practices to reach the top spot and cater to the intent of their target audience.
The importance of a voice search strategy
There are many benefits to having a voice search strategy in place - and here are just a few:
Voice search is the future
Voice search is growing rapidly. Users are turning to voice queries out of convenience and the desire for short, accurate, and relevant results. With 55% of US households expected to have smart speakers by 2022, this impact is set to become even more pronounced.
It can improve the user experience
In today’s fast-paced world, people want answers fast, and they want them with as little effort as possible. By ensuring your website content and information is optimized for voice search, businesses can achieve maximum exposure and ensure they don’t miss out on opportunities to catch the attention of new customers.
It’s driving developments in SEO
The popularity of voice search is having a direct impact on SEO best practices. To rank for voice search results, website content needs to include long-tail keywords, question phrases, and natural language. The use of voice recognition software can facilitate information sharing, taking notes and creating a template website proposal or creating documents.
Overall, implementing a voice search SEO strategy leads your business to higher search engine rankings, better engagement, and increased conversions.
How to optimise your voice search strategy
Now that you know about voice search, how it works, and how it can benefit your business - let’s take a look at some of the best ways to optimize your SEO strategy for voice search to maximise rankings and boost organic reach.
Ensure your website is mobile friendly
If your website isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The majority of voice searches are carried out on mobile devices, so it's vital for businesses to ensure their website is optimized for the mobile experience. Using a workflow designer may achieve organizational goals. Before further optimising your website for voice search, consider whether it’s optimised for mobile.
According to Google Reports, 27% of the online global population uses voice search on mobile, and 31% of them use voice search at least once a week. Mobile is the most common of all devices used for voice search, so it goes without saying that having a mobile-friendly website is a no-brainer.
Below are some key adjustments to implement to ensure your site is optimised for mobile.
- Improve load page speed.
- Adhere to SEO content best practices like using short paragraphs, white space, headings, and subheadings, bullet points/numbered lists, etc.
- Using a mobile-friendly layout.
- Ensure your content is easy to read.
- Test your site’s mobile-friendliness and optimise it accordingly.
We live in a mobile-first world, where consumers and business teams of all shapes and sizes rely on mobile devices for everything from web-based conference solutions to web mapping platforms to getting directions to nearby restaurants and shops. Making sure your website is mobile-friendly is an SEO best practice that goes beyond voice search.
Use long-tail keywords and conversational language
People use voice search to use natural conversational language when making their searches. That’s where long-tail keywords come in.
Long-tail keywords make up 70% of all web searches, which is why it’s essential you use them when optimising your website for voice search.
The average length of a voice search inquiry is 29 words, and often queries are phrased to include question words. In comparison, users are more likely to use short keywords when searching for something online.
For example, someone might type “best pizza LA” into a search engine, but when using voice search, they might say something like “Ok, Google, where can I get the best Pizza in Los Angeles?”
Long-tail keywords are easier to rank for as there’s less search volume for them. They’re phrases, questions, or entire sentences that people use when they search for something. Many businesses overlook them in favour of shorter keywords, but the prominence of voice search has brought them into the limelight.
Marketers must pay attention to long-tail keywords when developing and strategizing their website content. Answering common where, what, how, who, why, and how questions is a great way to capture valuable queries and get your content pulled from the search results. Good SEO copywriting takes into account these long-tail keywords as well as shorter ones to maximize voice search potential.
You can use tools like Google Search Console or Moz Keyword Explorer to discover popular conversational long-tail keywords and queries, which you can then incorporate into your content. Some things to consider when doing keyword research for voice search include:
- Use question keywords: Answer searchers’ questions with how, what, where, why, and how.
- Include filler words: Words like to, for, of the, I, etc enable you to ensure you’re answering consumers’ questions in a way that’s conversational, natural, and human.
- Long-tail keywords: Focus on targeting complete phrases that people are likely to ask when using voice search.
Optimise your Google My Business for local SEO
One of the most important things you can do when it comes to voice search optimisation is to ensure your business is listed on Google My Business (GMB).
According to research conducted by SCORE, over half (58%) of consumers used voice search to find information about a local business. Voice assistants turn to GMB listings when people look for local businesses or services.
Ensure your GMB listing features accurate and up-to-date information regarding your business. That includes your business name, enterprise communications details, address, and several images. When someone searches for your business or services, Google will pull this information and use it to respond to voice searches.
It’s also important to note that different virtual assistants use different search engines to pull information. For instance, Google assistant uses GMB to find listings, whereas Alexa uses Bing and Siri uses Apple Maps. For this reason, you should ensure you optimise for different local listing searches.
Improve your website's loading time
If there’s one thing we know for sure, slow loading times are bad for business.
Slow loading times result in higher bounce rates and fewer conversions. According to research by Google and SOASTA, bounce rate probability increases by up to 32% as page load time goes from one to three seconds. Searchers want the best answers, and they want them fast. That’s why ensuring your website loads as quickly as possible is crucial.
Page loading time is often overlooked when it comes to voice search optimisation, but that doesn’t diminish its importance.
Voice search results load 52% quicker than average web pages. What’s more, voice searchers are looking for immediate results. Having a slow website means you’ll simply lose out to websites with faster load time speeds. In this way, page speed optimisation can directly influence your chances of claiming a result from a voice search.
Some things you can do to improve page load speed include:
- Compress images and videos that you post on your site.
- Reduce redirects and plugins.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN)
- Use HTTP/2
Aim for SERPs featured snippets
Google scans website content related to the search query and curates a concise answer that it then displays as the featured snippet.
When a website appears as the featured snippet, it’s seen as an authority on the matter at hand. Why is this important for voice search SEO optimization? Because it’s the first answer, Google will respond to a search query.
Achieving the featured snippet spot isn’t easy. By publishing quality content centred around semantic questions, FAQs, and informative guides that satisfy Google’s rich snippet requirements, marketers can get one step closer to achieving the featured spot for traditional and voice searches.
Use Schema markups
Schema markups are structured data that allow website owners to give search engines accurate and comprehensive information about their website and services. Schema is an HTML code that enables Google’s algorithms to understand your website and its content. When Google (or another search engine) understands your site, it rewards you by ranking your website higher in related search queries.
Marking up certain details regarding your products or services like stock, features, operational hours, and contact information makes it easier for search engine crawlers to pull them up. This allows the search engines to deliver accurate and relevant information that matches the user’s intent.
Understand the user's intent
As with all things marketing, you’ll need to understand your audience and how they’re using voice search. It is important to use data integration software to gather real-time data, analytics, and research to further understand how your audience interacts with voice assistants. Doing this is a step forward in your voice search optimisation strategy.
Voice searches are carried out differently from text searches due to how people search. As we’ve already mentioned, voice search users tend to use longer search queries, different words, and ask many questions. By understanding when, where, how, and why your customers are using voice search, you can optimise your website to better address their needs.
It’s also important to note that SEO optimisation requires more than just implementing the best strategies. Businesses must ensure their marketing teams are equipped with the best communication solutions to collaborate effectively and efficiently. That includes implementing robust productivity software, SEO-specific keyword research and analytics tools, and comprehensive business VoIP systems.
The future is voice
Technology is dynamic and always changing. Voice assistants are predicted to continue growing in popularity as consumer demands shift. In the future, we’ll likely see a large majority of technological interactions be made through conversations with artificial intelligence machines—and many of them will be made with voice.
Marketers must ensure they keep up with shifts in consumer demands and technological innovations to remain competitive and meet their customers’ expectations. Optimising your website for voice search opens up endless opportunities for business owners to reach their audience with convenient responses and highly-relevant content.