How to Optimize for Voice Search: Proven Strategies for Success
Voice search is no longer an experiment. It is a part of our day-to-day lives. Whether it is people speaking into their watches, asking their mobile phones for directions or placing orders through the voice assistants, voice search is here to stay.
While it’s easy and wonderful for users, where does that leave you as a business owner? Your websites have been optimized for text search.
The primary focus on SEO has been text. What about voice search, then? Will the same work for both? What does voice search optimization mean, and how is it done?
Why should you optimize the website for both text and voice search? How is voice search going to change SEO? Let’s find answers to these questions and more in this blog.
What is voice search optimization?
Voice search entered the markets with the introduction of Siri by Apple in 2011. In November 2014, Amazon Echo made an entry and started becoming a part of our households. Google Assistant followed suit in 2016.
Think with Google mentioned that 27% of mobile phone searches were voice-based in 2018. That went to increase to a point where more than half of the smartphone users used voice-based search in 2020.
Just as SEO is search engine optimization, voice search optimization is the process of optimizing the website to appear as a result of voice search. The webpage will be read aloud by the voice assistant when a person asks for related information. It is pretty much similar to SEO. Rather, it is now a part of SEO.
But is optimizing for voice search easy? What changes do you need to make to your website and why? Let’s check that out next.
Why voice search is important nowadays?
BrightLocal said in a 2018 study that 58% of the customers used voice search to find a local business in 2017. That was more than three years ago.
Juniper Research conducted a study and came out with a report saying that voice assistants would triple by 2023. Their number would increase from 3.25 billion to 8 billion. According to Statista, the current number of voice assistant devices in the world is 4.2 billion.
Voice search results are faster, accurate, and to the point. Users find it easier to ask their smartphones or voice assistants a question rather than type it out. Be it while driving, working or relaxing at home, speaking is a preferred option for typing.
YouTube is the second largest search engine and is expected to have around 82% of the entire search traffic by 2022. The platform released a youtube voice search option for Android users to search and play videos of their choice.
It is natural for voice search to become an inherent part of our busy lives, isn’t it?
How does the voice search work?
This is one question a lot of us ask. We know how text search works. So how does voice search work? Here is a simple answer.
You turn on the voice assistant on Google or your voice assistant device (Alexa, Siri) and ask a question. (“Alexa, where can I find a florist in Manchester Lane, Bay Shore?”)
The device processes your speech into text by analyzing the words to understand the question. Then it connects to the external search engines (Google, Apple Maps, Yelp, Wikipedia, etc.) to find the related information. Google voice search relies on the vast database of indexed pages to pull out the relevant information.
Siri also relies on Google Search but uses Apple Maps to find information about local businesses. Alexa searches on multiple third-party platforms, depending on the question asked.
The devices use Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning algorithms, and other complex processes to find the information. Then the device reads out the answer from the search results.
WebFx states that more than $2 billion worth of sales are generated through voice search. Optimizing the website for voice search queries will help you capture more leads and increase your customer base.
Is Voice Search Different from Traditional Search?
Voice search is indeed different from the traditional search of typing in a query. The following are some differences that play a crucial role in the search optimization of the websites.
When you type a query in Google (or any search engine), you are more likely to use a short form. You would simply type ‘library Bay Shore’ if you want to know if there is a library in that region. But when you rely on voice search, you ask a proper question- ‘Is there a library in Bay Shore?’. You follow this up with other questions such as the address, timings, etc.
To the Point Response
The results of voice search are faster and to the point, because they are usually taken from featured snippets that show up as the first result on SERPs. These are easy to find as they contain rich answers (we’ll see this next) and are considered a priority by Google Search. The same theory is applied for text search and voice search when it comes to snippets.
Prepositions, articles, and grammar are considered filler words in text search. We don’t use them when we type a question into the Google search engine. But we use them in a voice search.
What could simply be ‘chicken soup recipe’ in the text will be ‘Alexa, what is the recipe for a chicken soup?’ during a voice search. The keywords are longer and have a proper grammatical structure.
‘Near me’ searches have become increasingly common in recent times. We have already seen above that local businesses see a lot of traffic from voice searches. People use voice search when driving, walking, in a café, in public restrooms, in hotels, etc. They find it easier to ask than type.
Best Ways to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search
Blue Corona shared an image from Sayone Tech, which showed the percentage of voice search. It seems that 55% of teens and 44% of adults use voice-based search daily. 2 out of 5 people have claimed that a voice search app is essential for them.
The trends have more than proved that voice search is going to be a vital factor for businesses. Optimizing the websites for voice search is not a bonus. Google voice search online already has an accuracy of 95%. iFlytek by China appears to have an accuracy rate of 98%.
If you want your business to attract more inbound traffic, you will have to compulsorily invest in voice search SEO. The sooner you start, the more the chances of gaining a competitive edge over others in the market.
So how do you do it? What are the best ways to make your business website suitable for voice searches? Let’s see below.
Focus on Rich Answers
Rich answers can be categorized as the following-
- Featured Snippets (the search results Google displays at the top of the results page. It is a quick summary of the post and can be considered as a brief answer to the question)
- Knowledge Graph (Google knowledge base where it stores all the information)
- Knowledge Panel (data which comes from Knowledge Graph and is displayed on the right side on SERPs in a small box)
- Knowledge Box (similar to knowledge panel)
Structured Data with Schema Mark-up
Structure the website data with schema markup. This is already a part of technical SEO. But if you haven’t done it for your website, it’s time to use schema mark-up to help Google understand what the content is about.
When there is a voice query, Google will pull the data based on rich answers and indexed pages.
When you display the timings, reviews, contact information, etc., using schema mark-up, the search engine will easily find the details and read them aloud. 36.4% of the voice search results come from websites that used schema markup.
If you want your business to gain more traffic through mobile searches and voice searches, you will need to focus on data structuring.
Content Restructuring- Include FAQs
Restructuring content is a different aspect that is equally important. Though blogs will continue to be popular, voice search relies more on questions and answers. A majority of our voice searches are questions unless we are placing an order.
For example, if you asked the Google home assistant about a spa in your region, you would say something like, ‘is there a spa in Maple City?’ or ‘where can I find a spa in Maple City?’
When you include a FAQs section on the website where you answer questions commonly asked on the internet, you are optimizing the site for voice search.
Google My Business Listing- Local SEO
We’ve talked about the increasing use of ‘near me’. That directly translates to local SEO. Creating a GMB profile is necessary not only for local SEO but also for voice search.
The NAP details (Name, Address, and Phone number), area codes, reviews, location maps, etc., are used to collect data for voice search and provide immediate information to the user. Using local keywords will be beneficial for both purposes.
Think with Google says that 60% of the smartphone users directly contacted local businesses using the ‘call’ button. We saw above that more than a quarter of the mobile users prefer voice search. When you combine these two factors, you will see that a mobile-friendly website gets more traffic through both kinds of searches.
When a person is away from voice assistant devices, isn’t it the mobile phone that comes to the rescue?
Change the Tone of the Content- Keep it Conversational
If you want your website to show up with the voice search data, you will need to create content on the same lines. How? Keep it simple. Keep it friendly.
Yes. The tone of your content should be conversational. It should read like how we talk.
That will naturally include phrases and words people using during voice search. And that makes it easy for the search engines to pull data for your website and read it to the user.
Avoid technical jargon or complicated words. Use the style that most people will find comfortable and easy to read and listen to. The 2018 Internet Trends Report said that 70% of the voice searches in English used a conversational tone.
Improve Website Loading Time
You must be wondering how this is a factor for voice optimization. After all, improving the loading time is a part of technical/ on-page SEO. It’s to prevent users from abandoning your website for another.
The same rule applies to voice search optimization because voice searches rely on immediate information. Whatever comes first will be picked and read to the user. If your website doesn’t load soon, how will the voice assistant read it? Valid point, right?
Include Long-tail Keywords
Though this is the last point on our list, long-tail keywords are the life of voice search. We have seen multiple examples of how voice search keywords are longer and detailed. So when you include long-tail keywords in your webpage content, you are optimizing it for voice search.
However, it is important to include LSI keywords, long-tail keywords, and question-based keywords in your content.
While we cannot exactly say how much voice search is going to impact businesses, we know for sure that it will play a prominent role. That means you cannot ignore voice actions and consider only text-based search to optimize the website.
If you want to stay one step ahead of your competitors in the market and become a successful business owner, you will need to rework the SEO strategy and include the best voice search optimization tactics.
You need to make changes to the content and design of the website. With Amazon, Google, and Microsoft focusing on voice searches, you should not take it lightly.
Voice search is the current and future trend of digital marketing. The best part is that you can optimize the website for voice search the way you do it for SEO. The tactics used for technical SEO, local SEO, and on-page SEO are also used for voice search optimization.
But it is necessary to stay updated about the latest developments in voice search and understand what it is. Read about voice search, how it works, and why it has gained popularity. Know more about the factors that’ll help you optimize the website for voice search, and contact an SEO expert to implement the changes.