The increasingly rapid development within technology changes how businesses work every single year. Some advancements are just fads, but some cause a lasting change – Voice Search is one of those things. In fact, the adoption of voice search technology has affected both Internet of Things and the way the internet is used. Initially, this disruption started with smartphones but has now spread to smart speakers and other various voice assistants worldwide. We are in the age of a voice search revolution and there is no turning back.
Voice search in Google alone accounts for over a whopping 20% of searches and with the increase in the use of digital assistance, it’s had an impact on SEO, hence our topic today, Voice Search SEO. Also, keep in mind that there are many SEO myths out there. So ensuring you are following the best voice search SEO tools and practices is paramount, regardless if you are a blogger, a small, emerging business, or a large enterprise.
But what is voice search SEO, and why is it so important? Let’s take a look.
Why is Voice Search Increasing?
There are a plethora of benefits from Voice Search. So, it’s quite clear to see why Voice Search usage and popularity is increasing, or why it is the future of search engine optimization. But the main two reasons are these:
1. Voice Search is Easier & Faster
Instead of having to type out your words like you would using the traditional search method, voice search is simply quicker and easier. It’s the main reason why people, especially teenagers, are adopting it. Voice Search is also an exceptional example of accessibility in design. With the help of Voice Search, users with physical impairments that keep them from using their hands are also able to search the internet freely.
2. Voice Search is More Convenient
In the digital world where efficiency and speed are key, voice search is the perfect solution. If you had to choose between speaking or typing, chances are you will choose to speak. It’s simply more natural for us, as speaking is an instinct while writing is a learned skill. Moreover, going back to accessible design, Voice Search gives users audible responses. So users with hearing impairments also benefit from it.
How Does Voice Search Differ From Traditional Search
Searching with your voice is drastically different than searching when you type. This is simply because, when we speak, whether it is with another person or machine, we have a different approach to it. Simply put, we do it out of reflex. Whereas with typing, we overdo it every single time. We think about what we write, how we write it, and what is the best outcome we expect. So, here is how traditional searches differ from Voice Searches.
Voice Search Keywords are Conversational and Longer
When using a computer or mobile device for typing, shorter phrases are used since it requires less physical effort and it saves us a bit of time. Whereas with voice search, we ask the whole question and tend to converse more. For example, a traditional search may be “best restaurants London”. When using voice search, we may ask “Hey Google, what are the best restaurants in London?”.
Local Listing Priority
Mobile searches for “things to do/activities” + “near me” have increased by 6x between 2016 and 2018. But the number of “x + near me” searches has increased across the board, not just in activities, and this trend will not slow down. Especially as Google’s algorithms now prioritize “near me” locations even without the users actually typing it. So referring back to the example above, a Voice Search might sound something like “Hey, Google. Do you know any good restaurants?”. In this situation, the Google Assistant will search for “good restaurants” and provide the user with the closest to the user and highest rated restaurant.
Voice Search Results Are Concise and Prompt
Voice search results usually consist of featured snippets. Google is heavily reliant on these rich snippets to answer voice search queries. This is because voice searchers want quick and immediate results, something which Google understands and their results are optimized to provide searchers exactly what they want.
So, whenever a Voice Search is made, these results are then read back to the searcher, which helps with the instantaneous results.
Keyword Research for Voice Search SEO
So now that we’ve got an idea of the different characteristics of Voice Search and how it works, it’s important we learn the keyword research process. Some pointers to keep in mind when doing keyword researching are:
- Question Keywords should be the focus. As mentioned before, voice search queries contain many question words – how, what, when, why where. Adding these into your keywords for voice search will be useful.
- Long-Tail Keywords are what complete a question and they are used a lot in voice search. A lot. You definitely shouldn’t ignore long-tail keywords when optimizing for voice searches.
- “Filler Words” are key. They are always included in questions and they are what make the queries more conversational. Filler word examples are “I, the, of the, on the, for, to” etc.
These points are crucial in determining if voice search keywords are a success or not. In your strategy, you should keep these points in mind in order to get better results, increase your ranking, and boost your organic traffic.
7 Strategies to Optimize Your Content to Incorporate Voice Search SEO
As more and more people become aware of the importance of voice search, the competition will only get tougher. Therefore, enterprises and SEO developers should ensure that they have the optimal SEO strategy for voice search is a necessary practice. But don’t worry, you are not alone in this. Here is a list with some of the best voice search SEO strategies you can use to stay ahead of the game.
1. Optimize for Rich Answers
A study found that 70% of all answers returned from voice searches occupied a SERP top position – with 60% of those returning a Featured Snippet result. This number will not decrease, instead, it will most likely increase. And this is because Google mostly displays rich answers to questions, which is shown in the steady rise of rich answer results.
2. Restructure Your Content
Since voice search is much more conversational than traditional searches, the content and its structure need to be analyzed. Ideally, you’d want your content to include concise questions and answers that will not only improve the layout but will also make it more voice search-friendly.
Knowing this, include things such as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your product pages and blogs. Since they contain question keywords and are fairly short, they will increase your chances to be ranked higher on Google. The FAQ-style of the format will make it easier for Google to pull the necessary content from your website in order to display it as a rich snippet. In addition to this, another good voice search practice is to use pointers to break your content into smaller fragments. This will also help with ranking.
3. Use Conversational Language
As mentioned previously, being conversational is a primary characteristic of a voice search query, and you need to leverage this. The more systematic and robotic the language in your content is, the less likely you will be to appear in voice search results. When you use natural conversational language, you have a higher chance of matching as a result of verbal questions.
In order to know how people are asking and phrasing their voice search queries, you need to understand the searcher’s intent. To do this, you must anticipate the query style that people use when engaging in voice search.
So, the questions you should be asking yourself are:
- What is my users’ conversational style?
- What type of keywords are people using?
- What type of questions is being asked the most?
- What type of answers are best suited for these queries?
- Which answers are performing well and being displayed as voice search results?
Using collected data from the answers to the questions above will allow you to gauge what people are using voice search for and what they are looking for. Meaning that you will be able to adapt your writing style and better cater to your users, quite literally “speak their language“. This will boost your user experience, which in turn helps to grow your Google ranking.
4. Improve Your Website Load Time
This is an important and significant aspect of voice search SEO. Websites that take longer to load have a higher bounce rate than those that load quickly. Therefore your website should be as fast and efficient as possible. To further solidify the necessity of load time, the Speed Update by Google emphasizes optimizing website load times. As with traditional searchers, voice searchers need results immediately.
So, if you have a slow website that takes too long to load, your website will not be chosen to answer verbal queries.
5. Long-Tail Keyword Phrases
As we’ve already established, voice searches are longer because of their conversational style, and so targeting long-tail keyword phrases is key. Additionally, we know that Google prefers long-form complete content. It’s difficult to prepare content separately for each and every voice search term, but we can definitely include all terms in a full post. To do this, develop long-form content which includes all the long-tail keywords that appear in vocal queries.
6. Focus on Mobile
Mobile phones easily beat other devices when it comes to voice search queries. This makes sense since most verbal questions are being asked on a mobile phone. So, you should be prepared in order to deliver the best mobile user experience you can.
Adopting a mobile-first approach and creating mobile-friendly content is a major key. However, it’s not as easy as it seems, and there are a few steps you have to cover.
- Build a mobile-responsive website;
- Optimize your website;
- Ensure your website is crawlable to increase your content visibility and exposure.
Mobile use is the future of search and of course that includes vocal queries. Having a mobile responsive website is, without a doubt, an SEO practice that is a requirement.
7. Leverage Google My Business Listings
Unfortunately, this strategy does not work if you are an eCommerce business, but as we already know, the number of people using voice searches for “near me” searches have been increasing. Whether you rank on those searches depends on your Google My Business listing.
To inform Google that your business is located at a specific place, you need to create a Google My Business listing. If someone asks Google to show similar businesses in your area, you want to be able to rank for that query. Along with your business name, address, and phone number, choosing the correct business categories and providing area codes is vital.
If you don’t have a Google My Business listing yet, create one. Improve your local SEO and you will see positive results immediately. Another great tool to rank for “near me” searches is to target local keywords to gain a higher search ranking.
The impact of voice search SEO is undoubtedly huge. With each passing year, voice search SEO is increasing and soon it will be everywhere. It will result in a change in consumer behavior and you have to be prepared for it.
Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have already optimized for voice search and you should be following suit. You do not want to be slow to catch up, and so specializing in voice search SEO is crucial if you want to compete.
The strategies mentioned in this article will help your performance in voice search SEO and will allow you to create a voice search SEO strategy that works. Now all that remains, is to implement them. Good luck!