When you search for something online from your mobile device, are you taking the time to type it in, or are you using your voice? If you’re relying on voice recognition features to speed up the process, you’re not alone. By 2020, 30% of searches will take place without screen, as more people turn to smart speaker devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.
Since voice recognition has become increasingly more accurate, data shows more than half of teens between 13-18 and 41% of adults are using voice search at least once a day. That means, if you want to have a shot at getting the traffic from those queries, you need to factor voice search into your overall SEO strategy. How?
FOCUS ON NATURAL LANGUAGE
Many voice searches are geared toward local businesses because customers are looking for something in their area while they’re out. Most of the time, people will phrase their searches in the form of questions, like, “where is the best donut in Denver?” or in short phrases, like, “donuts near me.” If you want to come up in searches like this, you’d use natural language throughout your content to boost your chances of appearing in the appropriate voice search results.
In addition to optimizing for traditional search, you’ll want to use words and phrases people are likely to speak when searching for you, so getting natural language throughout your site may not be the easiest undertaking depending on your niche.
One of the ways you can get around this is to add FAQs or Q&A pages that focus on content written with a conversational tone. This way, you’ll be more likely to write content that matches with the way your users speak – and that’s what you need before you can get anywhere with voice search.
OPTIMIZE FOR MOBILE DEVICES
If you’ve been online for any length of time, you’re likely aware of the fact that Google has considered mobile-friendliness a ranking factor since 2014. If you’re not already optimized for mobile, do it right now! Voice searches can come from computers, of course, but the majority of them are coming from mobile devices, so if you’re not rocking a mobile-friendly design, you’re not going to be able to capitalize on those voice queries as easily.
Need help? Opt for a responsive theme or design template, since this will automatically adjust your content for computers, tablets, and smartphones. If changing over would require a lot of resources you don’t have right now and you’re using a content management system like WordPress, you can install a plugin to create a mobile version of your site for you.
KEEP USING BEST PRACTICES
Keyword phrases are what people are known to type, so of course you don’t want to ignore those in the process. Even if you’re not too focused on getting to the top of voice search queries, you can’t ignore all the other aspects of SEO that matter.
Use microdata and Schema markup so that Google, Bing, and other search engines can start to determine what your content actually means. Structured data markup can help with everything from your address and phone number, to hours of operation, pricing, and directions to your store or office. That’s what people will be searching for, so make it easier for them to find!
KEEP INTENT AT THE FOREFRONT
Long tail keywords are more important when it comes to voice search optimization because those searches will use natural language. But, not just any long tail keyword phrases will work. To rank and keep users happy, intent is the most important factor. If you were someone searching for your business, products, or services, what are the questions you’d most likely ask? How would you naturally speak them?
Look at your website’s analytics data to see if you can figure out more about what your users are looking for. Google Search Console has reports that show you the queries people are using to find your site, so you can see the kind of natural language that’s used. If you see a certain phrase or group of phrases are bringing you a decent amount of traffic, check to make sure those words and phrases are appropriately sprinkled throughout your site’s content.
If you don’t get the insights you’re looking for there, or you want to go a bit further, turn to tools like Story Base, Question Samurai, and Answer the Public. They are all great at helping you generate lists of natural language phrases to include in your content.
GO BEYOND GOOGLE
Sure, Google’s the biggest game in town, but it’s far from the only platform you need to consider when you optimize for voice search. Think about Windows and Cortana, Alexa and Amazon, Siri and Apple, and Samsung’s new Bixby. Your content needs to be able to appeal to all personal assistant platforms. As more people turn to personal assistant devices for use at home and in the office, we’ll move further from using our desktops and smartphones to search.
VOICE SEARCH ISN’T NEW – BUT IT’S GROWING
There’s no need to completely re-do your SEO strategy unless of course you’re finding your traffic plummeting and the competition taking more than their fair share. Voice search optimization alone doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch, but making some adjustments now will ensure you’re ready to go and ahead of the game as the trend continues to grow. At this time, analytics data won’t tell you if you’re getting traffic from a standard query or a voice query, and there’s no guarantee it ever will, but ignoring it means you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic.