People are using voice search more often for a variety of reasons, but mostly for its convenience and ease of use. As the popularity increases of mobile and virtual assistant devices such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana, you need to make sure your content is optimized properly so it is visible to those using voice search. Optimization for voice search is different than optimizing for traditional search using a keyboard. Let’s explore the difference and provide tips to ensure your content appears in the voice search results.
What is voice search optimization?
Optimizing your content for voice search makes it more likely that the information on your webpages can appear in the search results that are generated by a voice query. With voice search, users ask questions using voice commands on devices like smartphones or smart speakers.
Optimizing for voice search has become a crucial part of any successful SEO strategy. In addition to standard on-page optimization, you also need to align various aspects of your website with the conversational and natural language patterns commonly used in voice queries. This ensures that your website remains relevant and accessible to users who rely on voice search to find information, products or services online.
Why people are using voice search
Voice search has grown in popularity. Here are some interesting statistics:
- More than 1 billion voice searches take place every month
- More than 50% of adults reported that they use voice search daily
- 27% of people use voice search on mobile as of 2023
- Approximately 58% of consumers use voice search to find a local business
Voice search is convenient and efficient and enables users to gather information without interrupting their current tasks. It offers a hands-free way to find information by simply speaking their queries. Plus speaking is faster than typing, especially for those using their mobile devices. You can get quick answers without having to manually navigate through the search results. This is particularly useful for activities that require hands and eyes, like cooking or exercising.
People use voice search to find local businesses, restaurants, directions and other location-based information. Often, those using voice search are on the go and need immediate results. Plus voice search provides a safer alternative to typing while driving. Users can access information without taking their hands off the wheel.
Voice search makes it much simpler for those with disabilities or those who struggle with traditional typing due to physical limitations. Ensuring your website accommodates voice search helps you support more of the accessibility requirements we are incorporating today.
If your business targets younger demographics, voice search is critical as they are more comfortable with voice technology and tend to adopt new tech trends more quickly. This is contributing to the growth of voice search usage.
Voice search and text search differences
Voice search and traditional text search have distinct characteristics and user behaviors. With traditional search, users type a concise and structured query into the search bar. But with voice search, users speak their query using natural language. This makes the voice query longer and more conversational, focusing on long-tail keywords and natural language phrases.
Search intent is much more important with voice search as users are often seeking immediate answers or local directions, such as finding nearby restaurants or business locations. With traditional search, the searcher may have the same intent, but they use specific, shorter keywords and key phrases to find relevant results.
The results presented to the searcher are also quite different. With voice search, you usually get a single, spoken answer to the query. Traditional search displays a list of search results. This allows the user to scan and choose which result makes the most sense for them.
And of course, one of the most important aspects of voice search is that users can search without using their hands, making it suitable for multitasking and on-the-go scenarios.
Tips for optimizing for voice search
Research long-tail keywords and conversational queries
When people use voice search, their query will mimic a person asking you a question. Most will begin their question with “who, what, when, where, why or how”. Examples of conversational questions would be:
- Where is the best Mexican restaurant?
- When do I need to file my taxes?
- Who is the best roofer?
- Why do I have a pain in my left knee?
- How do I make banana bread?
- How do I optimize my website for voice search?
For a traditional text query, they would most likely be:
- best Mexican restaurant Boston
- tax filing deadline
- best roofing contractor MA
- knee pain causes
- banana bread recipe
- optimize website for voice search
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are good resources to see what phrases your website comes up for in the search results. Also, look at the “people also ask” section of the search results when you are researching your target keywords.
If you are using a keyword research tool, it should provide a lot of data that you can use. I use Rank Tracker from SEO PowerSuite. It can provide questions that you can use to optimize your content.
Write content that aligns with user intent
Search has evolved as people have become more mobile. People want immediate answers, especially when they want to:
- Know something
- Do something
- Go somewhere
- Buy something
These micro-moments dictate the search intent. And having the right answer for that person at the right time can up your chances of acquiring a new customer. Be sure to write your content to answer those questions that users will ask about your products, services and business in general.
Structure content for featured snippets
Featured snippets are prominently displayed above organic search results and are usually a concise paragraph or a bulleted list answer the searcher’s query. For voice search, getting featured snippets is important because, if available, the virtual assistance will read the featured snippet in response to your question.
Good content is structured to be easy to scan and read. Put questions using the keyword you are targeting in headings. Get right to the point and answer the question concisely. If you then need to provide more details, do that after. Structuring your content in this manner makes it more likely that you will appear in voice search results or featured snippets.
Keep your content concise and use a more casual writing style. Answers should be around 30 words, simple and easy-to-read. The average Google voice search result is written at a 9th grade level.
Optimize for local search
Most people will use voice search to find a local business. Most likely they are looking to find a product, restaurant or other business to visit. Be sure to optimize your website for local search to help direct people to your business.
Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile and Bing Places for Business. Most voice searches are looking for local business information so add some local content to your website. If someone does a “Near Me” voice search regarding any business, voice search devices will read out a list of names.
Create an FAQ page
Given that the query is in the form of a question, creating an FAQ can increase the probability that one of your answers becomes the result of the voice search. Answer questions you are regularly asked about your business in a concise, conversational tone to appeal to the voice search. This can increase your chances of obtaining a featured snippet on the search result page. You can also add an FAQ to your blog post at the end to answer questions about the topic that weren’t covered in your post.
Implement regular SEO
This is not an either/or situation. Regular SEO helps your content be found in the search results in general.
- Implement on-page SEO tactics – Traditional on-page optimization best practices are still important. Optimize your images, add internal links to other relevant content and include optimized meta-tags.
- Ensure website is secure, loads quickly and is mobile friendly – Since most voice searches are done through a mobile device, having a fast, secure and mobile friendly website is a must.
- Add schema markup – Schema markup is the structured data markup that helps the search engines understand the context and content of a webpage. If you are on WordPress, Yoast SEO adds a lot of the schema markup as does other plugins for specific items like FAQs.
Reach your customers through voice search
Voice search optimization is an important addition to your SEO efforts. As more people use voice assistants to find information on the internet, ensuring your content can be found will increase traffic to your website and your business. Review your important webpages and see if you can optimize it for voice search with a few of these tips. This will help you improve your website’s visibility and engage with a larger audience.