I chuckled on my way to work the other day coming across a tweet that unveiled the idea of a new male virtual assistant called Chad that would “mansplain” back to you results from searches you’d log. Besides the ridiculous but hilarious notion (because who needs more mansplaining?), I found myself marveling at how big the idea of voice-activated experiences was growing.Did you know that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches?CLICK TO TWEETWell neither did I. So, let’s quickly get right on track and prepare for the exciting advancements ahead.
Recent statistics reveal that
- 41% of adults and 55% of teenagers use voice search daily.
- 20% of all Google mobile queries are voice searches.
- Voice search has grown 35 times since 2008.
- Voice labs found that there was a total of 33 million voice-first devices in circulation.
Voice search is said to be growing so rapidly because it provides 3 main benefits. Firstly, it is faster and faster searches mean attaining responses quicker. Furthermore, searching with your voice is 3.7x faster than typing.
Secondly, voice search is a perfect mobile search ally. 60% of mobile users have admitted that they have used this method of search at some point.
The third major reason this marvel is catching on so quickly in the world of search is that it’s absolutely more convenient and probably safer. Users state that they use it so they don’t have to type. What’s easier between voice searching “What are the good restaurants near me?” while driving and having to wait for the next red light to type that safely?
Voice technology, like Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, has upped the ante in improving user experience. It makes use of Natural Language Processing (NLP) to recognize voice textures, interests and behaviour. As time progresses, Google learns your language, accent and other patterns in the way you speak. It then focuses on semantics and the wider contextual relevance of your queries in order to return to you search results that solve your needs and are customizable to you.
With the increase in the use of digital assistants, optimizing your content for voice search is getting pretty urgent. Not only will this help search engines and their latest technology understand your content better, but it will also assist in pairing you up with your audiences’ voice searched queries – giving you the chance to rank high while scratching your users’ backs. Everyone wins.
Let’s get down to the 6 ways you can begin to optimize your content for voice search aka “Hey Google, how can I optimize my content for voice search?”
1. Mobile compatibility
Mobile is the primary source for voice search which makes this to-do list item priority number 1. So, ensure that your website is compatible for mobile. Invest time and resources into sorting out any issues that may arise when testing if your website is mobile friendly or not. Should you be using a CMS, consider looking into themes, plugins or other options that carry out responsive design principles. Applying AMP or Responsive Design could serve as solutions in allowing you to find aids that will make navigation easier & faster while providing a presentable and organized layout.
Additionally, ensure that your content is mobile friendly. Apply the basics of mobile-friendly content writing and page layout. These include:
- Using subheading, bullet point and numbered lists (I’m already on track. Ha.)
- Breaking content down into short paragraphs.
- Being concise.
- Using a lot of white space.
- Optimizing images.
2. Create question-based content
Think FAQ. When you look at your content, what Frequently Asked Questions can you address? Create content that directly answers pressing questions and solves problems. As always common words surrounding questions always comprise of who, what, when, where, why and how. Put yourself in your consumers’ shoes when conducting keyword research and think about what burning questions they may have pertaining your services or products. More importantly, consider how they would phrase those questions.
Another suggestion would be to think about featuring an actual FAQ page on your website. A good FAQ page increases your chance of visibility at the top of results page when people ask questions relating to what you offer as a business.
(Expert Tip – Turn your headlines, opening lines or subheadings into questions and use those to structure & organize your content)
When crafting your questions remember to note that there are still differences between voice searched phrases and traditional online search. The variations could be:
Typing: Grey’s Anatomy show times.
Voice: What time is Grey’s Anatomy on tonight?
Typing: Turkey recipes online.
Voice: What stuffing can I use for my turkey?
Typing: Clearwater Mall directions.
Voice: Take me to Clearwater Mall.
Do you see what we’re getting at? Learn common questions your customers ask you and the pattern in which they do that in. This will then help you come up with the best, on-point questions to feature in your content.
Don’t forget to optimize existing pages too for voice search.
3. Start loving long-tail keywords
Aha. We said what we said. A lot of people usually avoid long-tail keywords because we’ve been taught that very few people search for them. However, as more people search with voice, the keyword length is getting longer.
Voice search queries tend to be three to five (or more) keywords in length and often have long-tail keywords & LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords. LSI keywords are keywords related to your main ones and may provide semantic alternatives not necessarily synonymous with your other terms. Tools such as Google’s Auto Complete and Ahrefs help with this.
Eavesdrop on your niche forums too such as Facebook, LinkedIn groups and Twitter to see how people ask product-related questions.
“While text search mostly includes one to three words, voice search is longer and more conversational. Forward-thinking communicators can optimize their content by identifying the long-tail search queries that will drive voice traffic to their sites. Businesses can uncover these voice queries by analyzing customer phone calls to look for patterns, and by testing the content with new web titles and FAQs”. – Maria Sotra, GEOTAB
4. Use structured data
Now that you have created your question-based content, let’s delve into further ways to help search engines better understand your content and how it should be ranked and categorized. This is where structured data comes in.
Although schema markup language does not directly impact your page rankings, it does have a way of assisting in optimizing your website and blog content for voice search. This structured language is micro-data that gets embedded into your code and is used by search engines to recognize your content.
A good example of this method is when you have searched for a business and immediately receive its operation hours, contact information, images of the actual building and other data.
Structured data can also be used to highlight important information on your website that will help sway users on search results pages such as customer reviews, recipe ratings, etc.
To help ease your headache, Google has a structured data testing tool that can help verify that you’re on the right track.
5. Also use featured snippets
Featured snippets, like structured data, are another form to drive SERPs visibility. Sometimes when you ask Google a question, it utilizes the answer it takes from a website and curates it directly to the top of page one of search engine results pages. This is known as an answer box, featured snippet or position zero.
Having your answer show up first isolated in a box poses you as trustworthy & credible because Google showed a snippet of your content first.
Above is the perfect example of a featured snippet. (I literally could not think of anything else as a search query and anyway, believe me, this is a crisis in the female world!). In a voice search command, Google would say “According to Glamour.com…” and read out the rest of the steps on how to achieve perfectly shaven legs (airpunch).
Google voice search uses featured snippets perfectly for top local search results as well. For example, if you ask Google for the nearest restaurant or shopping mall, it will read out to the results that land at the top of the local three search results.
6. Optimize for local search
This leads us to our final point – optimizing for local search. Asking for directions or nearby locations on Google makes up quite a great amount of search queries in any form of search. This fact makes local SEO optimization an ideal way to find your business.
Voice search gives users the convenience of locating nearby locations using a single question or inquiry. As we’ve mentioned, your business showing up in featured snippets then does a great deal in boosting your traffic and rankings.
The first way to ensure you optimize for local voice search is using geotagged keywords. These allow you to show up in local listings of “near me” voice searches. Secondly, using your Google My Business page enables you to also come up in SERPs and Google Maps; in turn, showing up in voice search. Believe us when we say making it easy for your customers to locate and navigate to you is a huge bonus.
Here are ways you can ensure your Google My Business page is filled in clearly and accurately:
- Basic information such as name, address and phone number needs to be complete.
- Include a phone number with your area code.
- Use a business email address associated with your website.
- Ensure your location information is consistent between your website, Google My Business listing and any other local business directories.
- Upload high-quality pictures to make your listing more attractive.
- Select all of the relevant service/product categories for your business.
- Use the introduction field to fully describe your products and services.
We’re pretty certain you’ve noticed the shift in search behaviour around you and voice search is something that’s taking precedence. Having content that communicates effectively with search engines and improving your overall mobile optimization will have you prepared to take on voice search in no time. So, Hey Google, who’s the boss now in optimizing content for voice search?
Backlinko. (2019). Voice Search: The Definitive Guide. [online] Available at: https://backlinko.com/optimize-for-voice-search [Accessed 11 Mar. 2019].
Brenton, L. (2019). 5 Steps to Optimize Your Content For Voice Search – Single Grain. [online] Single Grain. Available at: https://www.singlegrain.com/seo/5-steps-to-optimize-your-content-for-voice-search/ [Accessed 11 Mar. 2019].
Si, S. (2019). Voice Search in 2019: Optimizing Your Content. [online] Basic and Advanced SEO Tutorials and News – SEO Hacker Blog. Available at: https://seo-hacker.com/voice-search-optimizing-content/ [Accessed 11 Mar. 2019].