How to Optimize Your Website For Voice Search [2019 Guide]

May 11, 2019 | Sean Foo

Voice search today is the topic on everyone’s lips and the number one consideration for your SEO strategy.

Experts like Gary Vaynerchuk believes that audio and voice will revolutionize the way we search for information.

In a world where people enjoy speaking and listening more than typing and scrolling, voice has some serious selling power!

In 2016, Google revealed that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches, thanks to tools like Siri.

A quick voice search is often far more appealing and convenient to today’s users than sitting down and typing on a keyboard:

 

3 Ways that Voice is Changing Search

By 2020, half of all searches could be conducted through voice.

After all, voice search makes sense as a natural, simple and fast way to access information.

For years, people were forced to type what they wanted into a search engine bar. This meant that companies could merely customize their content to feature specific keywords.

Now, the SEO landscape is changing, and businesses need a new strategy to keep up with their consumers.

 

1. Searches are becoming conversational

For years, we relied on the process of “typing” ideas into a search engine when we wanted answers.

The way that we type is very different to how we speak. To speed up the search process, there’s a good chance that you’d miss out words in your search.

For instance, you may search for “Nearby Chinese restaurant.”

However, going forward, we won’t be as compelled to shorten our sentences, because we can speak to the search engines naturally.

When you’re talking to a smart speaker or phone, you ask questions in the same way you would when talking to a friend.

For example, you might say: “Google, where can I go to get Chinese food nearby?”

 

2. Search location is much more important

There were approximately one billion voice searches per month as of January 2018.

A large percentage of those searches involved something to do with location.

When people ask for help from their smart assistant, it’s usually for something they want now.

For instance, “Where’s the closest Starbucks?”

This means that companies with brick and mortar locations will need to put extra effort into making sure that their website ranks for local search.

For example, imagine you were on a date, and the bar you were going to isn’t open.

In the past, you might have typed “Wine Bar” and a road name into Google.

Now, you can ask Siri “Where’s the nearest wine bar that’s open after 11 pm?”

 

3. Voice changes the way we interact with search results

According to WordStream, organic clicks have dropped 37%.

This is because featured snippets allow people to get answers to their questions without having to click on a website.

A huge amount of voice searches done are informational searches – that means they want quick answers to their queries.

For example, if I want to find out how old a turtle lives, I would speak to my phone “How old can a turtle live” and I will instantly get the answer I want (plus a little bit more information).

My phone then lets me know the answer I want – turtles live to 80 years old.

There is zero need for me to click through to learn more unless I am really into turtles.

With these three considerations in mind, let’s go through a 5 step plan to help optimize your website for voice search!

 

5 Key Steps to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

 

1. Integrate more “conversational” long-tail keywords

Remember, talking out-loud is very different from typing.

Google found that 41% of the people who own a smart speaker say it’s like talking to a friend.

To adjust to the new searches your consumers are performing, you’ll need to steer your keywords towards the kind of phrases that people would say instead of type.

For instance, you might see more filler words in your content than before.

Rather than just trying to optimize for terms like “Search Engine Marketing,” you might focus on “How do I improve my Search Engine Marketing results?”

The simplest way to pack your website full of these conversational keywords is to take advantage of your blog.

If you’re already committed to sharing valuable content regularly, simply weave more conversational keywords into your content.

Two free tools you can use to start your search for long-tail keywords include:

  • Google’s People Also Ask – Located directly on the search results for popular topics (short head keywords), this allows you to learn what in-depth questions people tend to ask more about your original search term.

 

 

  • Answer the Public – This tool gives you a bunch of questions when you enter a keyword. Those questions are taken from real search queries so that you can get an insight into the mind of your audience.

 

2. Answer customer questions in pages, blogs and FAQs

According to the Voice Search SEO study conducted by Backlinko, Google regularly answers voice search queries with short 29-word results.

If someone did a voice search for “Is intermittent fasting effective?” Google returns the following result – a concise answer that fully addresses the question:

The more concise your answer is while effectively answering the question, the higher the chance of it being the top result in Google.

Being straight to the point is key in voice searches, definitely include in key information but cut away any unnecessary fluff.

While short and sweet sentences on your blogs and website pages are a productive start, a fantastic option to consider implementing a FAQ page into your website.

A FAQ page is a fantastic location to list common answers to questions that your audience members might be searching for.

For instance, look at the FAQ that Microsoft shares on its site with semantic questions like, “How do I find my windows product key?“:

Nintendo’s Switch FAQ takes a similar approach. Notice how the answers to the questions are under 30 words where possible, so that they can be read easily by a smart assistant:

A comprehensive FAQ page gives businesses the potential to rank for hundreds of different voice-optimized queries at once. Find out which questions your customers are asking and answer them in a short and concise format.

 

3. Target customer micro-moments

The demand for voice search is increasing by the day.

To fully embrace it, you need to understand your customer and the journeys that they go through to interact with your products.

One of the things that the trend of voice search is promoting is a demand for more “micro” moments.

But what are micro-moments?

Micro-moments are small windows of opportunity where your lead is ready to do something that connects them to your business.

These moments include:

  • Educational moments – “Which is the latest MacBook I can get for under $2k?”

  • Exploration moments – “Where’s the nearest French restaurant to me?”

  • Action moments – “When is the earliest flight from London to New York?”

  • Purchase moments – “Book me 3 tickets for the upcoming New York Eminem concert.”

Understanding these moments are critical. Remember, the people conducting voice searches in your audience are in a rush.

They want to solve the problem immediately – that means that you need to give them access to the right results as quickly as possible.

For instance, “What” questions usually indicate that the customer is in the “research” phase. However “Where” questions mean that your audience is almost ready to buy.

 

4. Use featured snippets

When Google Home and Google Assistant respond to voice queries, they read out featured snippets from the search results.

This means that companies need to figure out how to use these snippets to their advantage.

A significant majority of your Featured Snippet queries will come from “informational” searches where your audience is asking specific questions.

Here are two quick ways to improve your chances of coming out on top with Google. For instance:

  • Investigate the competition to understand the format of the answer that is ranking well.

    For example for the search query ‘How to create an app’, the featured snippet (as well as the rest of the organic search results) show a series of steps to take.

    That means if you want to rank for that featured snippet, you probably need to create a resource guide that is a series of steps

  • Answer questions concisely: When you’re aiming to rank for voice search, you don’t need blogs full of complicated jargon that your audience can’t understand.

    Google wants to deliver the best answer to its customers as quickly as possible. Make sure that your response is as clear and digestible as possible, and you’ll earn the appreciation of your audience.

    Answers that are in the form of bullet-point lists generally work well for featured snippets.

 

5. Rank for your local search results

39% of today’s voice search users are on the hunt for information about local businesses.

It’s crucial to optimize your SEO according to this need – particularly if you have a brick-and-mortar location.

The last time I was in New York, the first voice search I did was to hunt for a great steakhouse and the first results I saw was a local SEO Google Map result:

Needless to say, I went to both steakhouses and ignored the rest of the organic results.

Whether you’re running a café or a law firm, the more you can adapt your website for local search, the better off you’ll be.

Voice searches are typically done with a high level of purchasing intent.

When someone says “Where is the best tailor in Las Vegas”, they’re immediately planning to go to that location. With that in mind, make sure that you’re ranking in your local SEO results by:

  • Keeping your ‘Google My Business’ page up-to-date with your latest contact details, address, website links and opening hours.

  • Developing a selection of positive online reviews through Google. The more informative and genuine your reviews are, the more likely it is that they’ll promote a sale.

  • If you’re a café or restaurant, consider “hyper-local” SEO. This means that instead of targeting a general area, you go very specific by including street names too. Smart local businesses will generally rank quite well for hyper-local searches, particularly in busy retail spaces.

With 50% of local mobile searches leading to a store visit on the same day, local searches have a lot of power when you’re connecting with customers.

You can gain a serious boost in business simply by incorporating location-focused keywords into your SEO. As well as the options mentioned above, consider using keywords like:

  • The phrases people use to describe your neighborhood.

  • Using “Near me” in meta descriptions, title tags, and anchor text.

  • The names of landmarks close to your business.

 

Voice Search is Already Here – Take Advantage of It!

Ultimately, voice search has emerged as a powerful trend in the digital world. The more we see ourselves migrating towards artificial intelligence and smart devices, the more the demand for voice will grow.

The five strategies above will set you up for greater success in the future and give you a foundation through which you can audit your existing content.

By choosing to take voice search seriously, you make sure that you’re defending your rank position in the new SEO age.

Additionally, you’ll also be able to tap into a wave of fantastic high-purchase-intent leads when you begin to dominate for your chosen keywords.

Looking to create high-quality content for voice search?

Drop us a note, and let’s get your content prepared for the voice search revolution!

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