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. 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 and it will impact your website’s content, its back-end structure, and your outreach strategies.
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 SEM Rush, 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 page, 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.