Voice search is on the rise, and there’s just no end in sight! In fact, leaders in the world of SEO have said that voice search will take over typed queries this year.
“By 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-initiated” – Andrew NG of Baidu
Why do we like voice search so much? Well, for starters, it’s way faster than turning on a computer and typing. The answers come back quickly with no clicking involved. You can ask your smartphone or smart speaker something immediately when you think of it. These reasons all affect the momentum behind voice search.
With so many people using voice search, you want to be sure your website is optimized so you can be the resource the digital assistant references.
In this post we’re answering some of the biggest Voice Search / Voice SEO questions:
- What is voice search?
- Why is voice search so crucial to your SEO plan?
- How can you integrate best voice search practices into your SEO plan?
What is Voice Search?
While a lot of people think of voice search, they mainly think of mobile devices.
However, voice search is growing well beyond smartphones.
Voice search refers to your smartphone, desktop computers, or other digital devices that have a digital personal assistant or an entry point that uses voice, like Google’s microphone, Amazon’s Echo, and all the other smart speaker devices offered today.
Voice search and personal assistants are gaining popularity. Just ask Siri, Cortana, Google Home, or Alexa.
In most cases, if you’re using a personal assistant and activating it with your voice, you’re doing some kind of voice search.
But it doesn’t stop there, smart speakers are just another part of the IoT (Internet of Things), and before you know it, every home on your street will eventually have a refrigerator with a smart speaker in it.
Not to mention, a car that has a built-in AI in connection with voice search.
What can you do with voice search?
With voice search you can:
- Search for something on the internet
- Get directions
- Schedule reminders / set alarms
- Get sports scores
- Check email
- Call or text someone
- And much more
Surprising Voice Search Statistics
- 50% of all searches will be voice search by 2020 – comScore
- According to Gartner, about 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020.
Get More Research on Voice SEO: SEO Tribunal published these 106 Voice Search Facts
Voice Search Best Practices for SEO
So, what can you do to prepare for voice search revolution?
Understand how people use voice search.
Understand Query Searches
First, let’s look at the different type of queries people use when they’re conducting a voice search.
Different types of search queries include:
- The answer to a question / problem based
- The question itself / explicit and direct
- Description of the problem / symptom-based or detailed
- Description of cause / symptom based
- Brand name or product parts / direct and educated
- Informational queries / awareness stage, or uninformed
This helps us to see what type of content you should consider in your content development plan.
Include Natural Language Keywords
One of the first steps in an SEO campaign include the keyword discovery phase. Voice search turns the traditional SEO keyword research on its head.
And although voice search based keywords have yet to take over the way we currently search, they sure are changing it, and as a business, it’s key to understand how as you implement a long-term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy.
Voice search queries tend to favor more contextual, natural phrases and long-tail keywords over prior short-tail search language.
Example if you’re sitting at your computer you may type in a short phrase like “Facebook CEO,” but if you were using a voice search you are far more likely to use natural language such as “Who is the CEO of Facebook?”
It’s just the way we talk. And this is starting to have a massive impact on SEO.
Voice search queries are longer and more conversational.
When you ask Google Assistant a question like, “Who won the Oscar for best actor in 2019?” (FYI- Rami Malek.) After you receive the response, you can then ask, “Is he married?” (FYI- no.)
When typing a query, you don’t have this natural progression in conversation. You’d need to ask “Is Rami Malek married?” in order to get the correct response. (Rather than simply using the pronoun “he” to ask.)
With voice search, you can have a dialogue because it knows who you’re talking about based on your last question.
70% of searches on Google Assistant use “natural language” – Google
Local SEO Strategy / Near Me Search
Currently, voice search is most likely to affect local businesses. This is closely related to the fact that most smartphone searches are also local.
If you have a local physical presence, it’s even more critical that you refine your strategy because you have a lot more to gain by getting this right.
Make it a priority to keep your local listing, your business listing, and your crowd-sourced sites updated and active.
When you’re setting up Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, or other sites of the sort, be as specific as you can when you pick your business category — that can increase the odds of showing up on voice searches that are targeted to your local niche.
The same goes for all online business directories, also confirming that your contact information is up-to-date. For instance, if your old address is listed on Yelp, and your new one is on Citysearch, the search engines won’t know which address is the correct one and will be less likely to pull your business up in voice search results.
“____ near me now” searches are up 150%. When a user is driving and needs gas, they can simply call out, “Siri, gas station near me now.” And Siri answers.
Complete citations are the NAP (Name, Address, Phone) mentions of your business. Ensure your NAP is consistent between your citations, local page, and website.
Question keywords are on the rise.
Having the answer to commonly asked questions related to content your ideal customer is searching for will help your search performance.
Look to solutions like AnswerThePublic when drafting out content to get insight into commonly asked questions around a given topic, then provide the answer.
Where Short Content Meets Long Content
Short content, around 30 words or less, performs well for voice searches, but having a 30-word blog post or page is not the right answer. Group the questions and answers together in a blog post or an FAQ page around a particular topic.
Other Best SEO Practices go Hand-in-Hand
Pagespeed, (HTTPS) website security, video search, mobile-friendly strategies go hand-in-hand with voice search.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
First: Choose Your Topic
Your content should answer the questions that your users are using to search for you.
Start with answering the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your business. These answers should be found in your content. Use as many queries that match the way a voice search would sound within your copy.
Second: Keep Your Answers Structured
As mentioned above, use long-tail keywords within your content to answer the queries. Keep your answers around 30 words or less generally. It doesn’t hurt to test this by asking the question yourself and seeing what the response is.
Third: Long Form Content Optimization
When you create that wonderful long form content, be sure you’re answering questions within it. The longer the page combined with long-tail keywords, the better your shot at higher ranking. Take advantage of using your keywords in headers, too.
Fourth: Short Form Content Optimization
If you don’t currently offer a FAQ page- do it! This is a great way to provide the exact match to a question commonly asked by your users. And your answer will be exactly what they’re looking for.
Fifth: Featured Snippets
Be sure you optimize for featured snippets and you’ll get a big bounce in the odds of your content answering users’ queries. Do this through schema markup and using scannable content (bullet points and headers, etc), these steps are easy and will definitely pay off.
Sixth: Use That Natural Language
We know, we already talked about this, but it’s super important to your voice search SEO. Write your content the way people speak and you’ll be well on your way to showing up in voice search.
In 2020 and beyond, the website that most closely matches the user’s query will beat out their competitors by being the leading resource.
Make sure all social media and directory listings include your updated contact information and your categories are specially designated.
When putting together an SEO campaign, great content is still king, but discovering natural language keywords that come through voice search could position you above your competition.