The use of voice search is on the rise. Studies show that 55 percent of people now use voice search. Among the 18-29 demographic, over 70 percent rely on a personal mobile assistant. Increasingly, people who find it too mundane (or are too busy) to type and search, find it much easier to speak it to their phone. It’s not hard to understand why. Voice search is faster. If you’re driving, it’s hands-free. And in a COVID-19 era, hands-free means limits on touching and contamination. All of which points to the need to optimize for voice search.
A small business owner might be tempted to dismiss the trend. After all, what difference does it make whether someone enters the search information with their hands or their voice? Actually, it can make quite a bit of difference, so we wanted to share some voice search optimization strategies to help you drive more traffic to your site.
The phrase “Content Is King” is a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. And the rise of voice search has made the king even stronger. The reason is the different way people act on search engines when speaking, as opposed to typing.
It’s only natural that search queries entered by voice are going to be more casual in their language. They will also be longer and more specific. It’s a little easier to tack on those one or two extra qualifiers to the original query when all you have to do is say them.
The consequence is that search algorithms will have much more specific data to go on when they index the results. The long-tail keywords are more likely to be rewarded than the short, concise phrase. The niche topic is more likely to come back at the top of the results than the broad subject matter review.
You can respond in two ways. Ideally, you might do a deep dive into SEMrush, find out what long-tail keywords are ranking, and develop content based on your findings. If you’re not working with a digital marketing consultant, that’s probably a little much. But what you can do is write much more detailed content. Tell your writers to explore popular topics in your industry more thoroughly. The more you cover, the better the odds that your content will answer the query of a long-tail keyword.
Schema—or structured data—is a tool that developers use to tell search algorithms more about their website in general and specific pieces of content on the website. It has been described as “data about data” and it’s a love language between websites and algorithms.
Context—or semantic search—is important in all SEO, but even more so with voice search. It’s a way to work through the code to tell more about what’s on your website. The reason it’s so important is that it’s the kind of context that would look redundant and foolish if put on the page that the general public sees. But it’s an ideal add-on in the back end to communicate more information to the search engines.
Schema is a great idea in any circumstance—especially given that it’s generally under-utilized, and can give you an easy edge on the competition. It’s even better for the specific circumstances of voice search.
Double Down on Local SEO
We could write a book on everything that has to be said about local SEO. But we’ll use this space to remind you that the basics of local SEO are an absolute prerequisite to ranking for voice search. That means a Google My Business listing, seeking out reviews in places like Yelp and responding to the ones you do get. And, above all, making certain that your NAP—name, address, and phone number is exactly correct down to the smallest comma.
Why does this matter so much for voice search specifically? Because most voice searches deal with local businesses. A person looking for directions to a restaurant isn’t going to type in a search while they’re driving, but connected to their Bluetooth, they will make a voice search.
Moreover, local mobile searches are a goldmine. In fact, 50 percent of local searches lead to in-store visits within a day. That’s reason enough to double down on your local SEO efforts.
Voice search is changing the way we find information on search engines and that means websites—from the content to the back end to the local directories—all need to be better and sharper.
Employ Voice Search Strategies
In order to rank in voice search results, websites still need optimization. Remember, people are relying more on Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, the Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa to search for them. Consider these observations and strategies:
- High-ranking pages rank high in Voice Search: If a website page ranks in the top three for SERPs, then chances are that it will rank high in voice search too. A study from Backlink showed that 75% of Google Home results came from a page ranking in the top 3. This could be because Google trusts the site and has already tested or crawled through it and found the content to be relevant. So make sure your site is technically solid and rank-friendly.
- Long-tail keywords: Keywords have come a long way from being just a set of words appearing in the content in a natural way. Eventually, people started using long-tailed keywords in their queries too. Google understands this and allows users to put in all the details when searching. Likewise, with voice search, people use long-tail keywords and even have entire questions as their query. Consider the questions that pertain to your brand when optimizing.
- Longer content gets high prominence in Voice Searches: Another takeaway from current data proves that if your content is over 1000 words long, it has a better chance of being featured in voice search results.
Ensure your website is optimized for all relevant user queries – typed and spoken. Contact us or call (443) 475-0787.