Voice search in SEO is a growing concern for many, although a lot of people don’t realize it. Instead of merely typing a search query in Google, more people are speaking to their technology. And considering how accurate many of these devices are getting, it’s often easier to speak than to type.
Between the years of 2012 and 2016, Google search increased its voice recognition by almost 15%. This means that it now recognizes voice input with more than 90% accuracy.
And Google isn’t the only one. Platforms like Baidu, Hound and Amazon are also vastly improving efficiency. Even Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to voice-based searching, ranks among the highest with users at 93%.
Which is a far cry from the dumpster fire that was the voice recognition in Windows Vista.
So, how does voice search affect SEO for the website?
1. Expanding the Need for Mobile Friendliness
Voice searching from a mobile device often turns into a visit. This means the need for mobile-friendliness is a necessity. It’s not simply voice search bringing people to your website.
Being mobile friendly includes things like business contact information, click-to-call features and more that people will use from the convenience of a hand-held device.
2. Phrases, Not Words, are Driving Traffic
Keywords are still somewhat important, but it’s the long-tail phrase that is having the greatest impact. Think about it. When you ask your phone a question for search, are you only saying two or three words, or do you ask the complete question?
For instance, “pizza near me” works great for finding a nearby pizza parlor. But is that how you ask? Is that how your customers ask? Usually, queries like this are more like, “Where is the closest pizza place near me.”
See the difference?
3. Speed Still Matters
Having a fast website is imperative to score well in search results as well as people who visit. This is part of any design best practices for websites. That’s because search engines are looking for efficiency and searchers want information “now.”
For mobile devices, speed is of even greater concern. Things like data bandwidth, device hardware and wireless plans all play a role in how websites are shown to users.
4. Changing to Conversational Content
Delivering a conversational tone is important if you want people to engage with your content during a voice search. You want people to feel comfortable while understanding what you’re trying to convey.
Think of it like this; read your content out loud. Is it something you would actually say in real life? This is all part of being authentic and connecting with your audience.
5. Focusing More on Location
Since 2016, the term “near me” in mobile Google searches has grown by over 500%! This is because people are looking for specific goods in their immediate location.
In fact, I know I ask Google about the closest coffee shop to me on a regular basis.
Realize the days of the traditional paper-based phone book are gone. It’s far easier and faster to simply ask your phone about local businesses. And you need to do what you can to make sure you’re included in those search results.
6. Misspellings are Less of a Concern
A lot of people put the misspellings of words within meta tags. This is in the hopes of getting those searchers who accidentally get a word wrong. However, voice search uses a different kind of AI and algorithm.
Misspellings are far less important as search tools go by what the person says, not what he or she types.
As long as the device’s algorithm can determine what the searcher says, the correct content is delivered. Which also supports the idea of making sure your content is easily readable.
7. Emphasizing Questions in Context
Questions are the cornerstone points for most voice searches. This means it’s the answers that wind up scoring the highest in results.
Featured snippets work well for engaging an audience, but also consider the “People also ask” section in Google. By providing solid answers, you can easily grow your reach.
Just make sure the answers are obvious and easy to absorb. Visitors shouldn’t have to open a dictionary site to understand your content.
8. Promotes Clear Intent Between Searcher and Content
Marketing for voice search focuses the intent between person and content. This is an important factor whether you’re building for voice search and SEO or simply managing a personal blog on the Internet.
It’s all about giving someone exactly what they are looking for. For instance, there is a significant difference from, “where can I find a Dodge” and “where can I find a used Dodge charger.”
Search intent is vastly important to score well in search engine optimization, and voice input makes it even more so.
Some of the Best Practices for Voice Search SEO
I’ve put together some of the best practices for optimizing SEO voice search. Hopefully, I’ll be able to answer your questions about how to do voice search SEO.
In reality, many of these methods are dual-use. This means they will work well for both mobile and desktop searching.
Being descriptive in your content is where a lot of intent-marketing comes from. For example: what if you sold black Nikes from your online store. Would you describe them as “Nikes” or “Black Nike Shoes?”
It’s the details of your material that will play the biggest role for quality traffic. Being too vague is going to hurt your position on the results page.
In many instances, voice search consists of precise and specific information. Part of this is because users are conditioned to look for exact details…especially when shopping.
Use Question Words
In most search queries, it’s question words that appear the most often. It’s the who, what, where, why and how that people are asking their smartphones.
However, you can also include things like “is,” “can, ” “does” and “will.” If there is a question to be asked about your brand, product or service, make sure you answer it.
But be concise. It’s found the average voice search answer is around 29 words. This means you need to get to the point rather quickly. One, perhaps two sentences are all you should use to answer a quick question.
I suggest using something like Answer the Public to find this kind of content. It breaks down the most common searches and categorizes them in actual questions. It can help you get ideas for content while focusing on intent.
Use a Natural Tone when Writing
Too many authors are exceedingly clinical in their content. This means they demonstrate their knowledge of a thesaurus to the point of confusing the average Internet user.
Write in a way that is more conversational. In other words, think of yourself as offering advice to your neighbor. Better yet, use language that an 8th grader can understand clearly.
Being natural supports your persona of being authoritative as well as authentic. Besides, it sounds better when Google, Siri or Alexa repeats the content to the searcher.
Create for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are those small segments of a page that appear in Google search. These are pulled from content that is capable of answering specific questions or provide precise information.
The best part is that you don’t need to be in the top position of a Google results page to have a featured snippet.
I’ve seen snippets come from content on the second page of a Google search result.
Essentially, the core of featured snippets is quality and information. How quickly can you precisely answer the searcher? Some of the best answers are within a few sentences.
Consider Larger and Clearer Font
Most voice searches are currently coming from mobile devices. When searchers then visit the site, are they able to read it without pinch-to-zoom? Many experts are moving to a larger and more pronounced font to engage those users.
This is because not every screen size on a hand-held device is the same size. What looks good on a seven-inch display may still be too difficult to read on something smaller than five inches.
You’ll see this in a lot on various websites around the world. Developers are using larger font, more pronounced buttons and fewer links to really connect with mobile users.
Add Schema Markup to Your Site
The schema markup is a few lines of coding used to improve search results. Now, schema markup doesn’t guarantee that your content will instantly be ahead of the game in SEO. However, it does make in impact.
Adding schema markup isn’t overly difficult, but it does require a bit of coding knowledge. Luckily, using content management systems like WordPress hosting gives you access to plugins to help, such as the Schema plugin.
But if you decide to learn how to add this to your pages, many have found a great deal of success by driving additional search traffic. It’s not an instant fix, but it will help over the long-term.
Add an FAQ Page
Adding a page for frequently asked questions is a great way to support voice search in SEO. Especially if you can provide succinct answers. Of course, you’ll have to know what questions people are asking about your company or products.
This is actually easy to come by if you use things like Google Analytics, Search Console or simply put in search terms in Google. Autofill works great to show you what people are asking regarding specific things.
The best part about this strategy is that it doesn’t require a lot of programming knowledge. Simply add a page of the most asked questions regarding your business and the rest falls into place.
However, make sure your answers are not long-winded and deliver quality information with each point.
Aim for Creating an Authoritative Site
Creating an authoritative site is often time-consuming, but the results are worth the effort. Authoritative sites often receive more backlinks, shared in social media and appear higher in results whether it’s for Google voice search or desktop text.
The more professional the content is structured, the better off you’ll be. Citing sources, providing irrefutable facts and building evergreen content are just a few ways you can develop an authoritative appearance.
Even adding internal linking structure is important in terms of authority SEO. It shows engines like Google what you value most about your website.
Put Effort into Local SEO
Local search engine optimization is imperative if you want to engage consumers near your physical location. Remember, the term “near me” has grown a lot over the past couple of years.
This includes things like:
- Using your geographic location in meta descriptions and content.
- Registering with platforms like Google My Business.
- Promote online reviews on the site.
Voice Search is the Future
The technology powering voice search in SEO is growing at a fast pace. If you want to get ahead of the competition, you need to put in the effort now to engage those users.
Consider how 72% of owners of voice-assistants in the home use them on a daily basis. And this is just the beginning for the recognition technology powering these devices.
Don’t wait too long. Otherwise, your competition could get the upper hand.