Voice search is on the rise, and there’s just no end in sight! In fact, leaders in the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) have seen that the amount of voice search queries has matched the number of typed queries, and that was waaayyy back in 2020!
We’re waiting on updated statistics for 2022, but armed with this intel, we have good reason to believe that voice search will surpass typed search within the next couple of years.
With voice search evolving and getting smarter all the time, you need to become a player in this game.
Here are some stats to prove it:
- An Adobe study found that 71% of adults who have a smart speaker use voice search at least once per day
- According to SEO Expert Brad, 58% of consumers use voice search to find local business information
- In 2020, 50% of searches were voice-based per Campaign
- SEMrush has found that over 1 BILLION voice searches are completed every month
- It’s estimated by Statista that his year, over 55% of households will have a smart speaker, and by 2025, 75% will (yowza)
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
- AI remembers your questions, and you can easily dive into further conversation (Q and A) with it
- You don’t have to worry about spelling errors
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?
Voice SEO: Voice Search Guide & Cheat Sheet
Don’t have time to read this blog post right now? No worries, we’ll email it to you along with a bonus Voice SEO Cheat Sheet!
What is Voice Search?
When most 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. Some examples include Google’s microphone, Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s HomePod, and Sonos One.
There are various smart speaker devices offered today, ranging in quality and price- so everyone has access to them. Why should you care? Because everyone has access to them! Meaning lots of people are asking Alexa questions.
Speaking of Alexa, just ask her, or Siri, or Cortana, or Google Home about the gaining popularity of voice search and personal assistants; they’ll all happily oblige with detailed information and stats.
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
Voice Search Best Practices for SEO
So, what can you do to prepare for the voice search revolution?
Understand how people use voice search so you can optimize effectively.
Understand Query Searches
First, let’s look at the different types of queries people use when 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 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 includes the keyword discovery phase. Voice search turns 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 you implement a long-term SEO strategy.
Voice search queries tend to favor more contextual, natural phrases and long-tail keywords over prior short-tail search language.
For 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 for your local SEO 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 Business Profile (formerly 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. Remember, when you optimize for voice search, you’re optimizing for Siri. With so many searches being done while on the move, this is an absolute must to boost your local business.
Complete citations are the NAP (Name, Address, Phone) mentions of your business. Ensure your NAP is consistent between your citations, local page, and website.
Pro tip: Be thoughtful with your NAP; if you have Main St. in one directory and Main Street in another, you may confuse search engines, making them uninclined to show you in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
Question keywords are on the rise.
Help your search performance by having the answers to the commonly asked questions from your ideal customers.
This is so easy it almost feels like cheating, so if you don’t have a Q&A (FAQ) webpage, do that now. You can also maximize this effect by adding page-specific Q&A sections to exiting pages.
Look to solutions like AnswerThePublic when drafting out content. This tool will give you insight into commonly asked questions around a given topic; all you have to do is provide the answer. Told ya’. Easy.
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. You’ll want to group your questions and answers together in a blog post or an FAQ page around a particular topic. This creates fact-fueled, helpful pages for your users, and Google likes to see that.
Other Best SEO Practices go Hand-in-Hand
Page speed, (HTTPS) website security, video search, user experience (UX), and mobile-friendly strategies go hand-in-hand with voice search.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
First: Know your Audience
In order to know what your users are asking, you need to know who and where they are. (There are dozens upon dozens of tools to help with this.) Once you have them pinned down, you can best determine how they communicate, their tone and language, and what kind of devices they use most often. This makes your job easier when it comes to optimizing for voice.
Second: Choose Your Topic
Your content should answer the questions that your users are asking when they 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 as possible.
Third: 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.
Fourth: 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 a higher ranking. In order to write this successfully, you must understand your user so you can create persona-based content.
Pro tip: Take advantage of using your keywords in headers, too.
Fifth: Short-Form Content Optimization
If you don’t currently offer a FAQ page- do it (as stated above)! 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, you are the expert, after all.
Sixth: 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.
Seventh: 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. Conversational keywords (generally, these will be long-tail) are crucial to your success when it comes to optimizing for natural language.
The website that most closely matches the user’s query will beat out its 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. Conversational content that’s concise, relevant, and trusted is a big win with this not-so-new technology, so make it happen.
Are you interested in learning more about voice search and how to optimize for it? We’d like to help. Book a call today.