You might be asking, “Why should my business optimize for voice search in 2020?”
Well, voice search isn’t just the next big thing. It’s already here.
With 3.25 billion voice devices in use worldwide as of 2019 and a projected 8 billion in use by 2023, SEO expert Neil Patel says, “You need to get back to the drawing board and modify your SEO strategy to incorporate voice optimization.”
If we don’t optimize and get ahead of this trend, it will be difficult to gain any organic traction. We’ll be riding in a horse-drawn buggy while cars zoom past us.
Okay, so you’re convinced...your website need to be optimized for voice search. Where should you start?
The first thing we need to do is to tighten up your basic SEO. To be considered as an answer source for a voice search, we should focus on the following:
Excellent ranking: Your content needs to rank on page 1 of Google search results, preferably in the top 3 listings. Ranking #1—or securing the coveted position zero spot—should continue to be your goal.
High domain authority: This is far more important than page authority for voice search results. Google wants to be extremely confident they are serving answers from a trusted website. (There’s a “secret” to get a voice search ranking DESPITE page authority which I’ll be sharing later.)
Be mobile friendly: Voice search is prolific on mobile devices, so you must optimize your site for mobile. Speed and responsive design are, of course, required. But you also need to design your page layout with lots of white space for quick and easy scanning. Because, be honest, when was the last time you read every word of an article on your phone?
So now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s dive into the metrics you need to specifically optimize for voice search.
Now, wait a minute...I know what you’re probably thinking. “Hey! Website loading speed is an important ranking factor for all search engine placement.” Yes, but when we’re talking about voice, speed is even MORE critical.
Google seems to be using PageSpeed as a key ranking signal for choosing voice search results. According to a significant voice search analysis published by Brian Dean, the average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds (which is 52% faster than the worldwide average).
Also, consider using a content delivery network (CDN) to shorten the time it takes to serve static information to your user. You can find many other helpful tips to maximize your website speed in this article.
Alright, we’ve got speed (cue revving motor sounds). Now we move on to natural language.
Keywords have been the lifeblood of SEO experts since the dawn of search engines. But after the 2013 Hummingbird algorithmic update, our understanding of the term “keyword” has to change somewhat.
Today, Google determines the user’s intent for their searches. It depends on Natural Language Processing (NLP) to recognize voice behaviors. As a result, Backlinko’s study found only 1.7% of all voice search results had the exact keyword in their title tag.
Okay….so what does that really mean?
It means Google will interpret what the user actually wants to know. With the phrase “Show me a size 6 running shoe,” the prospect is probably looking to purchase a pair.
However, when asking, “What features do I need in a running shoe?” the prospect is probably looking for information. The web page ranking for the keywords “running shoe” in this case will vary depending on the INTENT of the question asked.
You see, typing language is different than how we speak. I would type “running shoe” but I would ask my device a full question. “What features do I need in a running shoe?”
Your keyword strategy must now be more conversational—similar to how real people talk and ask questions. Try using a tool like Answer the Public, which helps you find the questions surrounding your keywords.
And now, let’s take those questions to the next level.
Speaking of questions...what are the questions your customers are asking? Talk to your sales and customer service agents. Most companies limit these questions and their answers to a single FAQ page. While effective, it’s not the only way to handle the situation.
Write the questions down exactly and answer them in a post or article. Don’t be afraid to optimize your content around 5+ word (long-tail) terms.
Creating content surrounding these specific questions increases your chances of being the chosen result for voice search, regardless of that page’s individual ranking (Delivering on the promised secret!).
Okay, we’ve crafted great questions! Any tips on how to answer them? Of course. (I wouldn’t leave you hangin’ like that!)
Writing good, readable content is, of course, something we should all be trying to accomplish. And yet, we often forget that concept amid long-winded sentences and innumerable adjectives.
Analyzing over 10,000 Google voice results, Brian Dean found the average content returned was written at a level even a ninth-grader could understand. So keep it simple.
In that same analysis, Google also showed a preference for short answers. How short? The average voice search was only 29 words in length. You want to say what you have to say...but say it quickly.
Simple and concise answers make Google happy. And a happy Google is a good Google (Say that three times quickly!).
And now, we take what we have learned so far to embark on the ultimate quest.
The “holy grail” of SEO and the coveted position zero, featured snippets are also a key indicator of whether or not your site will be served to the user on smart speaker devices.
Why? Because only ONE result will be given, and according to Brian Dean, 40.7% of voice search results came from a featured snippet.
Now there is no guaranteed way of getting your page as a featured snippet. But there is some good news. If you’re already optimizing your content to answer specific questions and giving simple, concise answers to those questions, you are doing the majority of the work already. Woo-hoo!
More advanced techniques are outside the scope of this article. But you can check out Neil Patel’s article here for more tips and tricks.
Whew! We’ve gone global and wrestled great ideas. Now let’s zoom in to local for the win.
A “Google My Business Listing” is a way to let Google know where your business is precisely located. A BrightLocal report found 58% of buyers use voice search to find local businesses. According to Google, the largest volume of voice searches consists of “near me” questions.
Be sure to claim your business listing and ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate. The introduction field is your business pitch. Use this space to describe your products and services (around 400 words).
You can also “bump” your local search results by including the following keywords in your SEO strategy:
Any local names or phrases used to describe your neighborhood.
Using “near me” in your title tags, meta descriptions, internal links, and anchor text.
Include any landmarks around your business location.
Include names of local institutions that are relevant to your business.
Congratulations! Implementing these strategies will help you achieve “gold-level” performance in your voice search optimization game. Your competition won’t know what hit them.
What are the basic strategies to optimize for voice search? Work on increasing page ranking and overall domain authority. Create a mobile-first website.
How does PageSpeed play into voice search optimization? Your site needs to be optimized for speed: the faster, the better.
What kinds of keywords should I optimize for voice search? Switch to long-tail keywords in the form of very specific questions. Keep your answers concise and easy to understand. This strategy is the best way to attain position zero with a featured snippet.
How important is local information when you optimize for voice search results? Extremely because 58% of buyers use voice search to find local businesses. Just do it.
The data can not be denied. Voice search is here and growing at a massive rate. We are approaching a voice-first world when it comes to searches...in much the same way we recently became a mobile-first world.
Voice search optimization is a critical step in the changing world of how consumers find and interact with our business. So we have to be sure that we re-optimize our content, our websites, and even our business in this new era.
Now you may be feeling like SEO is too much of a challenge. It’s an everchanging sea of tips, tricks, and traps. Staying on top of all the current trends like voice search is complicated and time-consuming.
At Copywriters.com, we have website copywriters dedicated to being “in the know” when it comes to important SEO changes. They are experts on writing ROI focused copy that can boost your SEO ranking and conversions. You can fill out this form and let us fulfill your SEO and content needs.
Image credit: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/bangkok-thailand-february-14-2017-mans-636901681
Patti Fabrick is an experienced storyteller passionately forming connections between businesses and their prospects. She loves to connect with people on a personal level - inspiring them to take action through email and social media campaigns. When she isn’t writing, you can find Patti enjoying her ducks, chickens, and cows on her small hobby farm.Hire Patti