Most people remember when Siri came out back in 2011. She was a novelty. A cool piece of technology to test out that sometimes gave informative answers and sometimes came back with laughable responses to voice search. Not many people would have predicted it would become a major digital trend.
Luckily, voice search has evolved a lot since 2011’s Siri. There are now several voice-activated technologies on the market like Cortana, Alexa from Amazon, Bixby, and Google’s Assistant. While most people use voice-activated technology on their phones, there have also been millions of voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Smart Home sold as well.
What’s the Benefit of Voice Commands for Search?
Google considers the following as the top reasons people use their voice-activated speakers:
- It allows people to multitask
- It enables them to do things faster
- It empowers them to receive instant answers and information
- It makes their daily routine easier
Voice commands are perfect when you’re driving or doing things that require your hands to be focused doing something like checking a recipe while you’re elbow deep in flour. Additionally, most people can ask a question out loud faster than they can type it. Voice search is growing quickly in popularity to get information without interrupting whatever daily task you may be involved with.
Optimizing for Voice Search in Search Engine Marketing
Long-tail Keywords: People don’t use voice search the same way they ordinarily type queries into a search engine. They ask direct questions to get more relevant answers. Using long-tail keywords (3-4 four keyword phrases which are specific to your brand)!
Focus on Answering Questions: Your content should prioritize answering frequently asked questions and other ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘how’ type questions. Keep your answers conversational so when the Voice reads it, it sounds more natural.
Write Conversationally: Remember voice search is not just direct, but often colloquial. Consider how people speak to develop a written tone to match in voice search responses.
Other Things to Consider
Think about the semantic differences between when you search for something vocally and when you type your question. For example, a search user might type “home voice assistants” into the search bar, but the same person would ask “What’s the best home voice assistant?” to voice search.
Use Answer the Public as a quick and easy way to brainstorm what kind of questions people might ask related to your targeted keywords. When you plug in your root keyword (in our example below, we used “Voice Search” as our keyword) and then the tool will produce a map that looks like this:
Another way to come up with question formats and ideas is to use Google. Google’s Results page now displays a box of related questions people may ask:
But How? How Do You Optimize Your Website for Voice Search?
When you optimize your website for the search engines, you always want to receive the number one spot for various search queries related to your brand; however, if you happen to fall into the 2nd or 3rd or even 10th place, you will still see the fruits of your labor because the first 10 results are often what users will click on.
The same cannot be said about voice search. Voice search only returns one answer to searchers and this will come from the number one best-optimized result.
- Relevant Content: The number one key to voice search optimization is to make your content uber-relevant to Google for various search queries.
- Structured Data: Another thing you can do to improve your position for voice search is to make sure your pages are easy to crawl. Start by creating an XML sitemap and submitting it to Google. Then focus on helping Google bots read and understand your content by applying accurate and correct structured data markup (commonly referred to as schema).
There is a ton of information that can be presented in the schema code to help the Google bots understand your content’s relevance to different search queries. Some examples of what you can include in this code are:
- Your location(s)
- Phone Number
- How-to content
- News articles and other content
If you’re bored and want to look through the entire list of schema markups, you can find that here.
While schema won’t affect your rankings directly, it can help you rank for voice searches. It helps to illustrate how your content is relevant to specific queries. Using structured data on your website is a good SEO practice anyway because it helps expand your organic results window by displaying things such as your reviews under your business name.
Of course, when Google wants you to do something on your website like create schema code, they usually put a test out to help you ensure they can read it properly. You can find the test here.
- Mobile Friendly and Voice Friendly are pretty much exclusive: Meaning, many of the things you would do to improve your website for mobile users, will also improve your voice search presence as well. For example, improving site speed, optimizing local search results, and putting structured data in place.
- Be Ready For Change: As with anything else in the digital world, the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. People are learning more about the tools of voice assistants (Both phone and home voice assistants) and are constantly testing the boundaries of what the voice command software can do. Meanwhile, Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other players in the arena are constantly developing new ideas as well.
Voice Search Wrap-Up
One thing is very clear based on recent trends: Voice search is not going away. It’s time to optimize your website to be voice search compatible so when the voice search trend spikes even higher, you won’t be left behind.