— June 9, 2019
Voice search has evolved over the years. What once seemed like an odd troupe in a science fiction show is now commonplace. We have all turned to Siri to get an answer to a quick question or find a place to eat.
And as regular users embrace voice search to make their lives easier, marketers are embracing it as another tool in the digital marketing world. As it continues to progress, there’s little reason to ignore it as an essential factor in your overall search strategy. So, if you’re implementing any SEO strategy, it’s time to consider adding in voice search to the mix.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search allows users to use a voice command to search the Internet, specific website, or app on their mobile device or computer. Audio technology built into your devices uses speech recognition patterns to understand what people are saying with extreme precision. Instead of typing keywords in Google or Bing, people are now merely talking into their devices and achieving similar results.
Why Should You Use It?
While technology continually shifts, the staying power of Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Home shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the infiltration of these devices are making voice searches more prevalent than ever. And because this artificial intelligence can scan the web, perform tasks, shop, and even play music for people, the adoption rate among all demographics is soaring. And that is positively affecting the rate at which people use these devices to search for things. By 2022, 55% of households are expected to own smart speakers according to research by OC&C.
If the sheer volume of voice-enabled devices isn’t convincing you to think about voice search strategy, consider this: Optimizing your site for voice search can improve user experience – something that Google loves. And because Google aims to give its visitors the best experience possible, it’s already placing a higher emphasis on voice search optimization. That means results people get via voice are starting to rank higher than their regular keyword counterparts.
How Do You Implement It?
A lot of voice search optimization is similar to regular SEO, and that’s because search engines main goal is to always return the best result based on the person, location, and history. With that in mind, you’ll need to do keyword research with your personas in mind when creating your content. But, the nature of voice search is different than regular SEO, so there are a few things you must consider.
Make Sure Your Website Loads Quickly
While this is true for standard SEO, it’s especially imperative your website loads quickly when optimizing for voice search. Most people doing a voice search are using a mobile device, and page speed is a significant mobile ranking factor because users expect quick information when they’re on the go. To improve your website speed, make sure to do the following.
- Optimize your website images
- Compress any files you can
- Improve your hosting plan if you can
- Use plugins sparingly
- Eliminate any excess code that accumulates on your site
- Ensure your website is responsive and mobile friendly
Write The Way People Speak
The most significant difference between voice search and a more traditional method is the way people phrase their inquiries. For example, when people type into Google, they may write something like, “top marketing agency Phoenix.” However, when they use voice search, people tend to speak conversationally. So that collection of keywords will turn into something like, “What are the top marketing agencies in Phoenix?”
Because of this, you should focus on targeting more long-tail keywords that reflect a person’s natural speech pattern. Think more conversational and lean toward questions rather than simple phrases. The average voice search result is 29 words, so don’t be afraid to go well beyond an average keyword.
Aim for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets, also referred to as position zero or answer boxes, are the summary answer from a web page that appears just after paid ads but before regular search results. They provide easy-to-read and credible, informative answers. And more importantly, digital assistants like Siri or Google Assistant read them out loud when asked questions.
Because of that, featured snippets have a significant impact on voice search. That would suggest optimizing your content to garner more snippets would also help optimize your voice search results. Optimizing for a featured snippet is also like optimizing for voice search. Instead of throwing keywords around in your content, try and answer your users’ most frequently asked questions. Then, organize your content into short sentences and paragraphs that are about 40 to 50 words. Also, remember that H tags and bullet points are easily readable to Google and thus perform well.
Concentrating on local searches – especially if you have a brick and mortar locations – can help your voice search results skyrocket. Over 22% of voice search queries are people looking for location-based answers to questions like, “Where is a good Italian restaurant near me?” If you invest in local content like this, you have a higher chance of producing results – and getting found!
To target these people, use words like “by me,” “near me,” “close to me,” or similar variations in your strategy.
Who Will and Who Won’t Benefit from It?
The real way to know if voice search will benefit your company is to try it out. By doing so, you may also see how your competition ranks and learn more about long-tail keywords in general. For businesses with brick and mortar stores, voice search may prove to be more beneficial than others. But ultimately, if you can make it work for your business, you should. If you keep in mind important factors like website speed, featured snippets, local-based questions, and a conversational, you should see some success.