Most of us have heard about and have likely used voice search at some point in our lives, whether it’s to set an alarm, play music, or send a text. As voice recognition technology becomes more accurate and semantic, though, users are beginning to realize the benefits of using voice commands for search. In fact, Google says 20 percent of its mobile queries are voice searches. Below, we explored the rise of the voice search trend and how businesses can best optimize their websites for voice search.
Why Is Voice Search Becoming So Popular?
In our digital world of instant gratification, typing questions can be more strenuous and time-consuming than saying it out loud. A PwC survey found that 71 percent of respondents would rather use a voice assistant to search for something than physically typing their queries.
Some of the main reasons people use voice search, according to SEMrush, include:
- It is quicker than going on a website or using an app.
- I can use it while driving or at other times when I can’t interact with my handset.
- It is more fun than other search methods
- It is easier than going to a website or app.
- It is a more accurate way of searching.
- I don’t like typing on my mobile phone.
What is Voice Search Used For?
Voice search has expanded well beyond asking silly questions or inquiring about the weather. In fact, there are many business benefits to optimizing for voice search. According to a Google survey, people who own voice-activated devices welcome brands as part of the experience. Some of the primary reasons people use voice search is to learn:
- Information about deals, sales, and promotions
- Personalized tips and information to make my life easier
- Information about upcoming events or activities
- Options to find business information (e.g., store location, hours)
- Access to customer service or support
Tips for Voice Search Optimization
With the increase of voice assistants, optimizing for voice search will be a critical component to your SEO success. Here are six voice search optimization tactics to consider in your brand’s strategy.
1. Optimize for Long-Tail Keywords
Voice queries tend to be longer and more conversational than the short phrases a user might type into a search bar. The same characteristics should be applied when optimizing for voice search. This is where you’ll want to leverage long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are queries that tend to be very specific and tend to be less competitive than shorter keywords, which can help improve your chances of ranking in the voice search results pages.
Optimizing for long-tail keywords is not only good for voice search, but also for traditional SEO, too. As we saw with Google’s introduction of natural language processing, for example, search engines are only get smarter, and brands can benefit from using natural language on the web. It’s best practice to always write for humans—not bots.
2. Answer Relevant Questions
Think about the way you speak to Siri or Alexa. Do you simply shout, “dog food” and hope for the best? No, you likely phrase your query as a question, such as “Siri, where can I buy dog food?” Or, “Alexa, what is the best dog food brand?”
More often than not, voice queries tend to be in question format, typically beginning with who, when, where, how, or why. For voice search optimization, you’ll want to consider user intent and include answers to common questions throughout the customer journey in your content. For example:
- Awareness: What is the best dog food brand?
- Interest: Does [dog food brand] make dog food for puppies?
- Evaluation: Do dogs like [dog food brand 1] or [dog food brand 2] better?
- Purchase: Where can I buy [dog food brand]?
- Customer support: How much [dog food brand] food should I feed my pup?
- Loyalty: Does [dog food brand] offer coupons for dog food?
To understand the questions you should be answering, you can use a free tool called Answer the Public, which will return a list of common questions around your target keyword.
3. Keep It Short and to the Point
You’ll often find that long-winded answers aren’t the norm for voice assistants, as they tend to keep responses short and concise. Studies from Backlinko show that the average voice search result is only 29 words in length, while SEMrush found most voice search answers to be around 41 words.
This is important to keep in mind as you optimize your content. Write in short, clear sentences, and use filler words like the, to, for, a, and an. Additionally, using lists to break your content into small fragments is another voice search best practice that can also help with your SEO rankings.
4. Add Schema Markup
As part of any SEO strategy, it’s important to make sure your pages are easy for Google to crawl. Creating a sitemap and submitting it to Google Search Console is a great place to start. Taken a step further, using structured data (schema) markup can help search engines and voice assistants better understand your content.
Schema markup creates metadata for your content that adds another layer of information for Google to understand what it is about without being visible to front-end users. Keep in mind, schema markup doesn’t affect your rankings directly, but can certainly help give you a leg up in voice search by explaining the relevance of your content for specific search queries, such as products, places, events, and reviews. Here’s a full list of all the things you can mark up with Schema.
5. Implement Local SEO Tactics
An Internet Trends Report found that 22 percent of people use voice search for finding local information. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering voice search is commonly used on mobile devices when people tend to be on-the-go. In fact, “near me” searches have grown more than 130 percent year over year, according to Google.
To optimize for voice search, local businesses should have an updated Google My Business profile with the name, business hours, street address, phone number, and any other relevant information to increase traffic coming from voice. Beyond Google My Business, additional ways you can optimize for local search include creating location-specific pages on your website and adding your region to metadata.
6. Improve Page Speed
As previously mentioned, the primary reason people use voice search is to find answers to their questions as quickly as possible. The same philosophy applies to voice search results. When you ask Google Assistant or Siri a question, you don’t want to wait around for the device to respond. According to Backlinko, page speed can play a major role in voice search optimization, with the average voice search result page loading in 4.6 seconds.
From compressing images to minifying and bundling code and markup, there are many different tactics you can apply to improve your site speed and performance. Implementing these tactics will not only help optimize your site for voice search, but for traditional SEO as well.
Need some help implementing these best practices? When you work with Aztek, our comprehensive SEO services include developing a tailored strategy to help you gain exposure and generate business results on desktops, voice search, and wherever else your audience engages with your brand. Contact us today to start a conversation.