How To Optimize your Website for Voice Search
If you’ve ever done a Google search by voice for something online, it was probably a quicker and easier way to find the information you needed, without having to manually type in what you wanted using your keypad or keyboard. For this reason, voice search optimization is going to be an increasingly important factor for all websites in 2019, and for many years to come. It’s no secret that more people now access the web with a mobile device than ever before, a trend that is not likely to change.
According to research on the popularity of voice search, over 70% of people prefer to use their chosen voice search assistant over typing in their search queries.
If you don’t take action with your website and optimize for voice search in 2022, you could be missing out on vital traffic and ultimately sales for your business. The differences between manually types searches and voice searches have the potential to results in differing SERP results.
What Is Voice Search Optimization?
Voice SEO is simply a process of optimizing the content on your website so that when voice searches are conducted, your website presents well on the Google voice search results.
Voice search on Google was first introduced in 2011. Although it was initially only available in English, Google voice search is now offered in more than 60 different languages. With voice search SEO, it works in a similar way to standard search optimization rules; Google voice search still places the person, their location, and their history as key factors. A term that is now being coined by many in the industry for Google voice search and SEO is Voice Engine Optimization, VEO for short.
Does Voice Search Optimization Matter?
In 2010, voice search was responsible for just 10% of all queries made online. However, it is estimated that by 2020, there will be almost 200 billion voice searches conducted each month! These figures suggest that over 50% of searches could be conducted using voice commands.
Voice searches are now being made easier with the growing number of devices that are finding their way into millions of s across the globe. Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana are just a couple of the most prominent tools that people are using daily to perform voice searches online.
In the next sections, we outline why voice search queries are different, and then we will define some of the key steps you can take to give your website the best voice search presence online.
Voice Search Is Different. Here are two reasons’s why!
How people use voice search is different from the standard way they search for information online. Here are two key factors to consider.
#1 Query Length is Different for Voice Search
When the typically google voice search query length was analyzed Vs. traditional search, it was established that when people use voice search, their search queries are between 1-3 words longer. Long-tail keywords are also more pronounced. Consider when you speak to an automated system Vs. when you speak to a real person. On an automated phone call, you might say ‘’advisor’ or ‘billing,’ but when you speak to a real person, you would obviously say, I would like to speak with an advisor, or I would like to pay my bill.
A good example of how voice search will differ to traditional search would be:
Google Voice Search
‘Nozac Consulting Founder’
Standard Google Search
‘Who is the founder of Nozac Consulting.’
Of course, this is just one example, but you can see quite easily why people naturally speak a fuller sentence Vs. what they type. One of the main reasons for this is because people can usually speak faster than they type, and they find it easier to convey their message when they are speaking.
#2 Keywords and Voice Search
As more people start to use voice search more, Google is placing more of an importance in the semantic search results Vs. specific keyword targeting.
One of the key things to consider before you optimize for voice search is that everyone uses voice search differently. When you decide to undertake a voice search optimization project, you need to consider how your brand is presented via the content you have. Outdated SEO practices such as keyword stuffing or keyword targeting will not work as well for voice search as they do on a screen because not only do people speak differently, they also type differently too.
These two core points address the different ways people will use voice search and how voice search optimization will need to account for different needs Vs. traditional search. Now, let’s get practical and give you a couple of points to help you practically with the optimization of your website for voice search.
How Can I Optimize a Website for Voice Search?
While opinions are largely divided on what makes the best voice search optimization strategy going forward, there are a few changes you can make that will help your website position itself for the best google voice search optimization results in 2019.
#1 Questions and Long-Tail Keywords
A long-tail keyword is a specific keyword phrase or sentence that has a minimum of 3 words and targets a more specific search audience than some of the more generic mass-audience target terms. More often than not, these types of keywords will have a lower competition level than the shorter single or two-word phrases.
When people use a search assistant or voice assistance to find information with a voice search function, people naturally speak just like they will talk to another person. The use of shorter phrases that we have become accustomed to typing into search engines are no longer prominent; instead, voice searches are going to be input using whole sentences that aren’t ‘chopped up,’ and they will be phrased in the same way that people speak.
Whether you consider traditional search or voice search optimization, the use of long-tail keywords is one practice that is good for both. Both questions and long-tail keywords are key for achieving good voice search optimization in 2019.
How can you find out the type of questions people are asking?
Any content you place on your website should always directly address the needs of your customers and prospects. Whether you are a new business or a more experienced organization, understanding your customer demographics is key. Think about what types of questions you think your customers will have; better still, review your messages, emails, and queries to find out what types of questions people have asked.
Aside from this, there are also specific tools you can use to help you find out the types of questions people either asking a voice search or typing into the search engines. Two of the best tools to use for this type of research are:
Both of these tools work in a similar way, although there are different licensing and pricing plans for each. Basically, you input a keyword or a phrase; then you are presented with a list of questions or terms that people are using to search for that content.
Once you have this data, make sure you use this and directly answer these questions within your content. Try to use a natural and conversational tone when you phrase the answer to these questions. Always keep the content of your website updated, fresh, and write a regular blog to keep pumping out new content online to help you get found more easily.
Tip: Create H2 headers with these questions and provide the answers in the standardised body text.
Finding long-tail keywords for voice search and standard search is worth the investment of your time and efforts. Here are a couple of useful links that provide more insight into the topic for you.
- Ahrefs – Long-tail keyword research
- Neil Patel – Long-tail keyword website traffic
- Wordstream – Discover long-tail keywords
#2 Google Featured Snippets
A featured snippet will usually appear at the very top of a page when someone types a question into Google. It will present as a box or block of text and will summarise the answer to a question, along with a link to the associated page and the page title.
A sample of a Google Featured Snippet
If you want to know how to become a Google Featured Snipped, then you’re going to be looking at the first point we made in this section in more depth. Featured snipped, and voice search optimization are very similar in that they depend on the content of your website being written in a certain way so that it directly answers the questions that are being typed into Google.
Over 30% of almost 1.5 million Google search queries contained a featured snippet. For this exact reason, featured snippets matter. If there is a google featured snippet included in any search results, it is highly likely that a voice assistant will take its answer from this snippet.
If you want to learn more about features snippets, take a look at some of these useful resources.
- Moz – Featured Snippets Explained
- Content Marketing Institute – How to do featured Snippets
- Search Engine Watch – Voice Search Optimization and Featured Snippets
#3 Page Speed Matters
Page Speed matters regardless of whether you are looking at standard SEO or voice search SEO. Essentially, it is the time it takes for your pages to load up. It directly impacts when and if your page will appear in voice search results or not. One of the primary factors people use voice search is to save time. So, in order to get ranked in search results, the speed of your site is a determining priority.
If you want to know more about the speed of your website, you can use any number of tools to tell you if the loading speed of your website is fast enough or not.
Google’s own Page Speed Insights tool can give you the exact information you need about the loading time. It suggests ways to improve the loading time of your website as well. Because the vast majority of voice searches are taking place on a mobile device, the responsiveness of a site across different devices is also integral.
If you want to learn more about voice optimization and page speeds, look at these posts.
- Neil Patel – Score 100 for page loading speeds
- Search Engine Land – Google page speeds update
- Instapage – Improve Google page speed score
#4 User Intent
Also known in the industry as ‘search intent,’ this is either the intention or goal a person has when they enter a search term into a search engine. It is a key factor in voice search SEO along with standard SEO. As such, getting this right can make a significant difference if you are looking to optimize a site for voice search in 2019.
While the search intent is sometimes obvious, such as when a user types in ‘buy’ or ‘how to’; in many cases, their underlying intent is hidden. The Hummingbird update was released by Google in 2013. Since its introduction, it has worked to provide users with more personalized search engine results, which better meet the needs of the originating search intent.
Good Google content on your website satisfies the needs of the consumer and answers the questions they have adequately. By considering the user intent of your prospects and website visitors, you can directly answer their questions within your webpages and thus, improve the voice search results of your website in Google.
Try to give a direct and immediate answer to the questions your users will have and make sure that you account for their questions in your content. Essentially, the exact steps you take to boost your searchability for featured snippets should be applied for ‘search intent.’
Just like with any business, the needs of the clients much always be addressed.
- Search Metrics – What is User Intent?
- Search Engine Journal – User Intent 101
- Search Engine – Keyword Research Vs. User Intent
#5 Local SEO
Voice Search statistics suggest that almost 60% of the queries made online by a voice search are being used to find local businesses.
As lots of people will use a voice command search when they are driving, walking or otherwise mobile, these figures come as no surprise.
Whether searching for local amenities, shops or things to do, people are using Google voice search to find places nearby to transact with.
While including the local area, city, and region you do business in, you must also consider that lots of people will simply say ‘nearby’ or ‘near me’ when using a google voice search.
With a voice search, people are more likely to say, ‘Coffee shop neat me,’ as opposed to ‘Coffee Shop in Tulsa.’
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need to write ‘near me’ or ‘nearby’ in your content in order to be picked up in these types of local SEO voice searches. It does factor into things a little, but perhaps not as much as you would have otherwise thought.
Optimizing for ‘nearby’ and ‘near me’ searches
- Google will hunt down information about your organization to display as a local listing. These are usually things such as your address, email, opening hours, and telephone number.
Tip: Use a schema marker for good SEO Points.
- Google pays attention to online reviews. So, make sure you secure your customer feedback and proactively ask them for reviews as this will really benefit your local SEO ratings which are essential for google voice search optimization.
Heads Up: It is predicted that Google may update and upscale the importance of social ranking signals in the years to come.
Make sure you have a good social media presence and when possible, that you also collect reviews on these platforms where possible.
Use any and all available tools to help you increase local SEO as this will intrinsically raise the value of your google voice search rankings too. In this post about local SEO tools, there is a list of tools you can use to help you do just that!
- Local Links can also go a long way in helping you boost your local SEO factor. It should be an ongoing task for your business, but one which will help your local business to get more links. There are lots of ways to get links but getting better voice search optimization results is to get quality links.
- The vast majority of search robots will use the business listing information in order to determine and display a company’s location. One of the most effective ways to do this is to ensure you have a Google My Business Page. If you have one of this set-up, be sure to include all of the right data for your business as this will help you rank better for local queries.
Local SEO is an essential part of any successful SEO strategy and where voice search optimization is concerned, it is absolutely paramount. There are lots of ways to improve your local SEO scores, and in doing this, you will also boost the voice search traffic too.
#6 Structured Data
This is code that is added to the HTML mark-up of a website, and it is used by most search engines to understand the contents of your site. By utilizing structured data, you can make it easier for the search engines to find and crawl your site in the most effective way.
Schema Mark-up has been mentioned once already in this post, and due to its importance, we are highlighting it again!
Schema mark-up is so important for SEO, and it gives you better control of the way your website content is read by the search engines.
We have already mentioned featured snippets in this post, by adding structured data to your website, the search engines will then use that code to create something called ‘rich snippets.’
Although a rich snippet will not technically work as a ranking signal, it is a valuable addition to your website that will help you be found more easily online.
Structured data mark-up will help you deliver better data to mobile devices about the contents of your website.
If you are a complete beginner or you would like some pointers about how to implement structured data to your website, then take a look at some of these resources!
Once it’s done, you will need to keep updating the content of your markup, as with everything online, things are constantly changing.
- Search Engine Watch – Guide to Schema
- Neil Patel – How to use Schema mark-up
- Google Codelabs – Adding structured data to a webpage
Voice Search is already widely used across the globe. With the rise of device sales that work as virtual assistants in a home or office; the prominence of voice search is only going one way.
If you already account for voice search SEO on your site, you will most likely stay ahead of your competition, and you will see vast improvements in your content visibility as voice search results only present top pages.
Stay ahead of the curve and make sure your website is just as effective for voice search SEO as it is for traditional SEO with the steps we have outlined in this guide.
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Elizabeth March, Lead Copywriter