Whether we like it or not, we’re entering a time in digital marketing where voice search is taking over. The use of smartphone assistants and smart speakers — Google Home, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Amazon’s Alexa — has exploded. Voice search has increased in popularity as the ability to recognize speech has improved significantly, with the majority of the users between the ages of 18–43.
ComScore has predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be by voice search, and 30% of searches will take place without a screen.
How Can You Take Advantage of The Growth in Voice Search?
Optimize Your Website for Voice Search
- Sharpen your local SEO
- Aim for the Featured Snippet
- Focus on long-tail keywords
- Answer Specific Questions
- Have a FAQ page
- Use natural-sounding language
Sharpen Your Local SEO
Data usage tells us that many voice search users are looking for business information, so it’s important to optimize your website for local SEO to get in on the local action.
Make sure your Google My Business Page is up to date, with correct address, contact details and business hours. If a user asks: “where’s the nearest hair salon?”, you want your info to be correct, so you have a shot at the top position.
Don’t have a Google My Business account? Get one! It’s free and can create significant exposure for your business if you’re optimized enough to show up in Google’s local three-pack
Other ways to optimize for local search include building up your online reviews. We’ve had plenty to say about that in other blogs posts. Here and Here
Your website needs to be mobile-friendly. It needs to load quickly. And you need to have your business listed in multiple third-party apps and local directories for those all-important citations
Aim to Get in the Featured Snippet
When you type a question into Google, the first result is often a featured snippet – a short summary of the answer pulled from a third-party site. Becoming the featured snippet is highly desirable for visibility and traffic.
We asked: “How much does a new kitchen cost?” Here’s the featured snippet result.
In voice search, getting your company into the featured snippet is especially important because Google voice search delivers only one answer. One. Users no longer get ten different options to consider.
Virtual assistants can even read that one answer back, so users don’t have to look at their screen. More often than not, the first result they hear either satisfies their query or they change their search.
Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
Include more long-tail keywords in your SEO efforts. Long-tail keywords are long phrases in a conversational sentence or question format. For example, a typical keyword might be “tacos,” while a long-tail keyword might be “what’s the best taco place near me?”
Do some research into the topics your prospects search for (read our blog on long-tail keywords for some sources for these topics) and turn the results into question format. Then write specific blog articles or page copy that targets those long-tail keyword phrases.
The more content like this you have, the more searches you’ll show up for.
Answer Specific Questions
Use Answer the Public to find common questions on your chosen subject, and use answers to these questions as the basis for your website copy. Include the question as your page sub-head <<H2>> and answer it in the body text directly below.
Google Suggest is also an easy way to get to commonly asked questions. Google Suggest occurs when you start typing keywords into Google (don’t hit enter or search) and it provides a drop-down of popular/trending questions.
Your questions need to be complex rather than simple ones that can be answered by Google itself. Anyone can answer an easy question, but by providing smart answers to hard questions, you position yourself as an expert.
Here’s some examples of the types of complex questions you can include and answer.
- Fitness industry: “What’s a good body fat percentage?”
- Career services: “What’s a good signing bonus?”
- Energy industry: “How to reduce my electric/gas bill?”
- Web design agency: “How to find freelance designers?”
- Beauty industry: “What are the best waterproof mascaras?”
- Real estate: “What’s the best time to sell a house?”
- Kitchen designer: “What will a new kitchen cost?”
Get the idea?
Questions that start with “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “how” and “why” are the most popular voice queries. Always good are questions that consumers start with “how do I” or “where can I find…”.
Keep your answers concise. Google wants to feature the best answer, so make sure yours is clear and easy to read. Answers in the form of lists seem to get in featured snippets more often than text alone.
Does your website have a FAQs page? It should.
FAQs are great for increasing traffic, SEO, and especially for voice search. That’s because most featured snippets and nearly all People Also Ask (PAA) boxes pop up when a specific question is asked. Having a robust FAQs page can help your website get included in more featured snippets.
Use Natural Sounding Language
Compare the language in this typical text and voice search:
Text Search Query: Pizza in Lancaster
Voice Search Query: “Hey Google – where’s the closest pizza place?”
Since users of voice search are essentially having a conversation with their device, your content should fit this context.
Let’s say you own a tile company. Take this common query: “Hey Google – what is the best tile for a bathroom floor?” In your website content, you can use “What Is the Best tile for a bathroom floor?” as your H2 header, then answer the question concisely. This way, you have a good chance at being the first response to a voice search.
Write in a natural, conversational voice. Rather than trying to stuff in as many keywords as you can, write like you speak so you’ll naturally optimize for keyword phrases that your readers will likely search for in the future.
Digital marketing is geared toward generating leads and converting them into customers, regardless of whether the lead is acquired via voice- or text-based search. To continue growing your business, digital marketing must be optimized to account for the effects of voice search on SEO.
In 2018, you can’t afford to ignore the power of voice search. The market is set to be worth $601 million by 2019, and if you don’t start to optimize your website now, you’ll be missing out on a lot of traffic in the long term.
Curious to learn more? Here’s some sources.