As the popularity of voice search grows, so does the value of voice search optimization. But there’s one caveat: SEO techniques for typed search queries aren’t enough to boost voice search SEO. It takes a completely different strategy. Voice search changes:
- How we search.
- When we search.
- Where you’re searching from.
- What we search for.
Here’s the great news. This gives digital content marketers and businesses a chance to gain on their competition. They can implement new strategies and step up their game when it comes to voice search technology.
What is voice search optimization?
Voice search optimization is the practice of making sure your website is as responsive as possible to voice searches . It means arranging your site so that when someone says “Hey, Google …” the voice answers with information from you .
One key to effective voice search optimization is understanding that people search differently when they speak voice commands versus typing.
Using a hands-free voice search changes how people search Google in two important ways:
- Search phrases are longer.
- Searches are more conversational.
For example, someone thinking about leaving their home to get something to eat might type : “Thai food Main Street.” Someone driving their car and looking for something to eat might say : “Find the best Thai restaurant near me.” Or, “Where is the closest Thai restaurant?”
Voice search queries use more command words , like “Find” and “Show,” and more asking words, like “Where” and “When.” Basic SEO factors remain vital, but businesses need to research these differences and adjust their strategies accordingly.
9 steps for optimizing content for voice search
Basic search engine optimization techniques impact your search results, like including your target keyword in the page title. A tech-savvy business will stay SEO-sharp by maintaining those practices while adding voice search optimization features to its site. At rellify, we use these techniques to ensure content is up to our highest standards for voice search optimization.
Here are 9 steps you can take to boost your search results from voice inquiries.
1. Think mobile first
Mobile-friendliness is nice, but it’s not enough for regular search engine optimization, let alone voice search optimization .
A website optimized for a mobile device will be fast, and voice search users place a high premium on speed. Naturally, Google does too. It wants to answer questions instantly, and any hitch in a website can hurt a site’s discoverability.
Use one of the many available tools to test your site’s speed. Check to see if it gets a passing grade from Core Web Vitals .
Does your site pass Google’s mobile-friendly test ? If not, get to work. The test will point out weak spots in optimization. This may be a type that is too small, links that are too close together, and improperly sized photos.
2. Think hyper-local
Local businesses stand to gain as much as any other sector, if not the most, from voice search. That’s because voice search results can be hyper-local .
Many steps in optimizing for local searches (by voice) are free and relatively easy. Google has made the first step simple: claim your My Business listing . This will place you on Google’s Local Pack, Google Maps, and Google Local Finder.
Make sure to provide all possible information. Even basic information like name, address, and phone number is critical. A call following a voice search has an excellent chance of leading to a sale , often at the brick-and-mortar site.
Write the blurb about your business as if it is your desired answer to a voice-enabled search.
Voice search : “Where is the best fabric store in downtown Rochester?”
The blurb for your fabric store: “Jenni’s Place is the best fabric store in downtown Rochester. It provides the finest fabrics and sewing material at the lowest prices.”
Make sure to update the listing regularly with information like store hours and posts announcing sales, specials, and events. Use photos to show off your place.
3. Solicit reviews
Google gives higher rankings to listings with reviews . Businesses also should take advantage of similar opportunities with Apple Maps, Bing, and Yelp. Ask your favorite customers to write reviews on these sites. And monitor those sites so you can respond to reviewers.
4. Seed your site with keywords
Once you have claimed your local listing, integrate locally relevant keywords and keyword phrases into your site. Keywords like “fried chicken restaurant in Los Angeles” and “fried chicken in LA” are locally relevant keywords. Words like these can help drive more leads to your business.
5. Write the way people (your customers) talk
As you begin any SEO strategy, you should consider your customers’ interests and needs. Draw up a clear picture of the customer journey . Imagine the questions they ask about your products, services, and user experience.
The difference with voice search is that the customer will speak more clearly and in a more conversational tone . They often use a question-based search. And they will respond best to answers that are clear and direct. In fact, with voice search, that’s the only sort of answer they will be provided with. Will the answer come from you or other sites that may be competitors?
The example given for writing a My Business blurb shows the value of placing clear, plain answers to typical voice search questions on your website. A bakery shop, for example, should have content elements that say “best cake shop in east Atlanta,” “top bakery shop in Atlanta,” and other variations.
Businesses also should present concise, easy-to-read content (and easy for a search engine to digest). Save the flowery language and convoluted jargon for another time. It can’t impress readers or listeners if search engines never present it to them.
6. Answer FAQs
FAQs are an excellent tool. They can provide direct answers to readers’ questions in ways that make excellent replies to voice search queries. If you don’t have one, add one. If you already have one, review it and update it as needed.
Good voice search optimization involves content that answers “why,” “who,” “what,” and “how” questions. Presenting that content on an FAQ page is like serving up a series of easy-to-find voice search answers.
This also provides an excellent spot to cover the entire customer journey . The FAQ can include questions from the earliest stages. Answer questions that people have from when they start thinking about fulfilling a need to when they’ve made the purchase and are using the product. A good FAQ also allows businesses to address pain points and clear away stumbling blocks.
7. Use “ready to buy” words
People regularly use voice search to not just shop but to buy . Review the content on your web pages and make sure your product descriptions appeal to searchers in the buying phase .
The search intent in this phase is called “transactional,” and voice searches tend to use certain keywords at this point. Words like “buy,” “deals,” “sale,” “order,” “reserve,” “clearance,” “special,” and “discount” are often spoken by people ready to do business .
E-commerce sites should use transactional keywords as part of their content. They can answer voice searches like: “Who is having a sale on refrigerators in El Paso?”
8. Use long-tail keywords
If businesses and site owners create content in the way people talk , they will probably be using long-tail keywords. They also will be employing voice search optimization.
Long-tail keywords are more specific and usually longer than other keywords. They don’t command as much search volume. However, they tend to have a high conversion rate because they are so specific.
In digital marketing , as in all marketing, it’s important to understand your target audience . That understanding should lead you to the long-tail keywords that potential customers may use when searching for your solutions . The way that someone would describe your business probably contains excellent long-tail keywords. Keyword research using SEO tools from Ahrefs, Moz, Ubersuggest, Brightlocal, and others will help you identify those words.
Consistent, strategic use of conversational keywords are a key element of voice search optimization. Go long-tail in your featured snippet. Make your content keyword-rich , using them in your My Business listing blurb and blog posts. In fact, targeting long-tail keywords should improve your search results in any form.
9. Use schema markup
The power of well-chosen words drives voice SEO, but technical details can make a big difference, too.
Schema markup is a system for coding information. Let’s take a blog post as an example. Schema markup helps search engines instantly see the meaning and importance of the words or photos in your blog. Then, they can rank it and display it accordingly.
Scheme markup makes it easier for search engines to analyze your content. The odds increase that your content will be used as the featured snippet in voice search queries .
As we have said, Google likes speed . It also likes structured data that contributes to domain authority, and this form of technical SEO is a prime example. On a website that doesn’t use this, it takes longer for a search engine to determine the relevance of content .
Because schema markup requires technical expertise, using it can give you an edge in the competition for top SERP rankings .
Voice search optimization and SEO
Now that you know how to improve voice search results , let’s look at why it’s worth the effort. If you’re a business, particularly one in food service, hospitality, or retail, you likely depend on voice searches to draw customers. In 2019, 72% of people reported using voice search through their personal digital assistant.
Other voice search statistics indicate that:
- 135.6 million Americans were using voice search in 2022. ( eMarketer )
- 58% of consumers voice search to find a local business online. ( BrightLocal )
- Among smart speaker owners who regularly use them, 62% in one survey planned to buy something through voice technology in the next month. ( Google )
People like voice-enabled search because it makes it easy to multitask. They enjoy getting useful information instantly on mobile, easy-to-use devices. It also benefits people with certain disabilities who have trouble typing queries on a keyboard and reading the answers.
The rise of smartphones, other mobile devices , smart speakers, apps, and hands-free automobile systems all contribute to its growth .
Of course, a great deal of this activity is not worth chasing. Commands like “Alexa, play some Bruno Mars music,” common questions like “What’s the weather forecast tomorrow?” and argument settlers like “Who was the 15th president of the United States?” are not opportunities for SEO success. By the way, it was James Buchanan.
Even so, it stands to reason that businesses need to be where the searchers are. This is especially true if they want to raise their visibility and make the most of e-commerce. You might say that optimization hasn’t occurred for certain businesses until a website has been optimized for voice .
The way that voice search functions give us clues for SEO strategy .
How does voice search work?
When you speak to a virtual voice assistant , your spoken words are translated into text. Then, the query is sent to a search engine. Here are the most popular operating systems that use virtual assistants and their different devices:
- Google’s Home, Google Assistant, and Android phones and devices use Google.
- Amazon’s Alexa uses Bing for search queries on Echo devices.
- Microsoft’s Cortana uses Bing on mobile devices.
- Apple’s Siri uses Safari on iPhone for desktop and mobile searches.
Voice search technology uses the automatic speech recognition system (ASR) to transform voice signals and spoken language into text. Then, the search engine uses the text as a standard search query and delivers relevant search results.
Over time, machine learning and natural language processing enhancements improve. Voice match technology, allows these services to better understand the questions and commands the user gives.
The accuracy of Google voice search and other search engines has improved over the past few years. This is especially true as Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing have improved. RankBrain and other algorithm updates keep improving the performance of Google voice search. )
When you do a written search, the search results usually present a blurb. This item briefly answers the query and provides a list of websites. Google calls these featured snippets . These snippets also are perfect for answering voice search queries. They’re often the same answers that voice assistants like Alexa and Siri give.
The answers to voice searches are not always audio-only. Siri, for example, might report that it has found several sources that might give an answer. Then, the user has to click on one of the links that Siri provides.
The power of voice search optimization
As we have seen, two critical factors in voice search optimization are relevance and Artificial Intelligence .
rellify, the content performance platform , uses both assets to help clients develop content that naturally ranks high in internet searches. The company’s use of Intelligence Augmentation, machine learning, and natural language processing give its clients an edge. rellify especially excels when it comes to helping clients strive for voice search optimization and overall SEO marketing.
Contact rellify today to see if its services can help your company.