Buyers are using voice search more and typing less to search for products and services online. They won’t find you unless your website ranks high on voice search results.

voice search optimization

Hey Google, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, where can I find….? Finding what we want is easier than ever thanks to our ability to use voice commands to search for it online.

Google first introduced voice-enabled search about a decade ago. It’s gaining traction now for two key reasons: the rise in digital voice assistants and improvements in AI-based natural language processing and understanding. The result: voice search is fast becoming one of the most popular and effective ways for brands to get discovered and improve the customer experience.

Fast facts:

How to optimize content for voice search?

  1. Keep user intent front and centre when developing website content
  2. Get the technical aspects of your web presence right
  3. Use long-tail keywords to show up in voice search rankings
  4. Create content that answers questions the searchers are asking
  5. Maximize your FAQ page
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What is voice search?

Voice search is a speech recognition technology that lets people find information by speaking rather than typing queries or terms into a search box. It’s convenient, time saving and proven to be an important competitive advantage for the brands using it.

Fast facts: On average, people can type around 40 words per minute but speak about 130 words per minute. This means you can say exactly what you want faster and with less effort than spelling it out on a keyboard.

What you can do with voice search

Voice search allows users to:

  • ask search engines questions;
  • access specific information;
  • launch programs and apps;
  • find content in multimedia files; and
  • dial hands-free by speaking commands into their mobile devices and desktop computers.

The benefits of voice search

Voice search:

  • streamlines the process of searching;
  • offers the opportunity for barrier-free, personalized, faster searches;
  • increases click-through rates;
  • drives more traffic; and
  • boosts brand awareness.

Fast fact: Content that ranks highly in desktop search is also very likely to appear as a voice search answer. Approximately 75 per cent of voice search results rank in the top three for that query.

Five ways to optimize content for voice search

1. Keep user intent front and centre when developing content

Most users are looking for something specific when they perform a voice search on their smartphone. Often queries are location based. Users are likely trying to find an address, store hours or the availability and price of a product. Develop content that answers location-based questions and is optimized for local search engine optimization (SEO).

A few important best practices:

  •  Claim and update your Google My Business listing. It will boost your search ranking and improve your business’s visibility on Google Maps.
  • Use AdWords location extensions to get noticed on “near me” searches. Enabling the extensions will allow your business address and directions to be displayed with your ads.
  • Use local search ads in Google Maps. These ads are placed above organic results in Google Maps and can help you reach the right people when they’re ready to buy.

2. Get the technical aspects of your web presence right

Structure all your web pages so they are easy to use and show up when potential customers are searching.

For example, Google Search now determines ranking results by incorporating criteria such as how fast pages load, visual stability, whether pages are optimized for mobile and HTTPS secured.

Fast fact: 53 per cent of people will leave a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load.

3. Use long-tail keywords

Using the right SEO keywords is the most important way to show up on search engines. Making sure your website content features the keywords and phrases people are using to find your products and services will help you rank higher on search engines and bring more potential customers to your site.

There are two types of keywords: short-tail, which include one or two keywords; and long-tail, which can have more than 10 words. Focus on long-tail keywords. They are more effective for voice search because when people ask voice assistants for help, they tend to be conversational and much more specific when describing what they’re trying to find.

Tip: Even though it’s better to use more keywords for voice recognition search, it’s important to keep those keywords simple. Voice assistants won’t be able to recognize complex statements.

4. Create content that answers the questions searchers are asking

The majority of voice searches take the form of questions: specifically, who, what, where and how questions. Make sure to create easy-to-read, conversational content that answers the questions your target audience is likely to ask. The content should reflect your brand’s voice and, when appropriate, inject some fun into the interaction.

5. Maximize your FAQ page

Provide concise answers to your audience’s most-asked questions. Add schema or vocabulary tags (also called microdata) to your HTML. Schema lets you effectively explain what the data on your website means. This makes it easier for Google or Bing to understand what you have to offer and could boost your visibility on search engine results pages. For example, Google automatically pulls featured snippets (short excerpts from a web page) to answer users’ questions. The more relevant your answers, the more likely your web page will rank as a featured snippet.

Brands that make voice search SEO part of their overall SEO strategy, will stand out and stay competitive.