Siri, what is the weather like today?
This probably sounds pretty familiar, right?
Indeed, according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, ⅕ of all Google queries are voice searches.
People are searching for information much differently than before. Simply put, they are interacting with their devices by speaking to them.
Back all the way in 2014, Google found that 41% of adults were talking to their phones every day.
That same research found that by 2020, more than half of all queries will be voice search. By now, you can assume that that percentage is a lot higher.
Perhaps they’re using their mobile phones, voice assistants like Google Home or Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri or Google voice search.
But, why is voice search so popular, you ask? It’s convenient. Think about it: it is a lot easier to ask a question out loud than to have to type it, especially when you’re using a phone (as you will see, most voice searches are performed on a smartphone).
Nevertheless, voice search is leading the way. And it’s here to stay.
It’s going to have an impact on SEO and with all shifting trends, businesses need to adapt. Specifically speaking, they need to optimize their website (and content) for Google voice searches.
1. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Here’s one thing about voice search: they are highly location-focused.
As such, one of the first things you should do to optimize your website for Google voice searches is to optimize your Google My Business listing (of course, you need to have an actual Google My Business listing first).
How To: What do mean by optimizing your Google My Business listing? First and foremost, it’s important that all of the information is both correct and up to date and that your NAP (name, address and phone number) is consistent across all directories and your website’s contact page.
Remember – even a small difference between “rd” and “road” is significant. Essentially, what’s happening here is that crawlers are assessing the legitimacy of your business by comparing how your business’ contact information is displayed.
Beyond this, it’s also important to choose a specific category and location for your business. The idea here is that Google wants your business to align most closely with what users are searching for.
That’s why choosing a specific category like “natural spa” as opposed to “spa” is a lot better; it will be less competitive and will allow you to take one of the top spots.
Lastly, it’s also important to include as many details as possible – even the most minor of details – and to keep it up to date. The idea here is that most people want to learn as much as possible about a business before visiting.
This is only the beginning when it comes to optimizing your Google My Business listing, but our blog post, 9 Point Checklist to Optimize Your Google My Business Profile provides an easy checklist of how you can optimize your listing.
2. Your Keyword Strategy For Voice Search
In the early days of the Internet, users would type short keywords into the search bar to find the information they needed.
But, now that people are essentially speaking to search engines, searches are becoming much more conversational. People are moving away from searches like “best massage ” to, “Siri, where can I find the best massage pillow?”
So, because searches are much more conversational, they also tend to be longer as well.
Specifically speaking, keywords are now long-tail+. The “plus” is referring to the conversational keyword phrases that you have to add to your keywords when optimizing for voice search.
So, it’s a different kind of long-tail keyword. This means your SEO strategy will be moving away from long tail keyword research tools that bring up just about every variation that you could think of.
As you can see from the example above, queries are also much more likely to contain question phrases – so question phrases are also important.
How To: A good place to start is to start recording the questions that people ask you when they speak to you on the phone and start recording the exact words that they use.
The idea here is to really get a sense for the types of questions customers are asking about your business and how they’re asking them. What language are they using?
Additionally, Neil Patel also recommends that people use a tool called Answer the Public. Simply enter a keyword and it will bring up a list of questions.
3. Ensure Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
With most voice searches occurring on mobile phones, ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly is a no brainer.
Now, keep in mind that when it comes to making your website mobile-friendly, there are a couple of different things to think about.
How To: First up: Google recommends using a responsive web design (most WordPress themes are responsive by design). You can test how mobile-friendly a particular page is by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
However, you also have to ensure that your website is quick to load. To determine how fast your website loads, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool will also offer tips on how you can optimize your speed.
Lastly, you should optimize your content for mobile as well. You may have heard that people tend to read in an F-shape pattern when reading on a desktop. But mobile is different. Simply put, most mobile users are simply scanning text.
One study found that only 5% of people actually read the text. That means that you need to make your content even more scannable than perhaps you normally would. Think a lot of whitespace, short sentences, small paragraphs and a lot of sub-headings.
Don’t forget the bold headings as well.
3. Schema Markups
Schema markup does not directly affect your rankings, but it can still boost your rankings. Schema markup is metadata; in other words, it gives Google more information about what your site is all about.
When it comes to voice search, you can use microdata to classify information like your operational hours, contact information, address, directions of your business so that when people look for this information, they can find it.
In addition, you will also want to submit a detailed sitemap to Google.
How To: You can create markups for all kinds of cases; Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper will provide more information.
4. Optimizing Your Content For Voice Search
Once you have your keywords, the next step is to actually optimize your website content like your website copy, your product pages and your blog posts.
How To: A great first place to start is by creating FAQ pages that focus on those particular conversational keywords mentioned above. Don’t limit yourself to just one page, but feel free to group similar questions on a single page.
Given that voice search tends to be question-based, structuring other types of content in a Q&A format is also a good idea. Many people tend to only structure their FAQ pages in a Q&A format, but you should apply this format to some of your blog posts and product pages as well.
And, as always, it’s equally important to ensure that you provide a satisfying answer to your customers’ questions.
5. Additional Considerations
There are a few last considerations when it comes to optimizing your website for Google voice searches, particularly when it comes to your keyword strategy.
In addition to using conversational keywords, you should also include the phrases that people use the describe your businesses’ neighbourhood. Again, this is because so many voice searches are location-based.
Lastly, ensure that you include “near me” in your title tags, meta description, internal links and anchor text.
The Bottom Line
Optimizing your website for voice search is not something you should think about doing so at some point in the future. Voice search is becoming increasingly popular and if you expect to see results from your SEO strategy, you have to take into account these changing trends.
By optimizing your Google My Business listing, incorporating conversational keywords and making your website mobile-friendly, you will be off to a great start.
The next steps are to create schema markup and to create FAQs and optimize blog posts/product pages will give you a solid start.
Do you have any tips on how to optimize your website for voice search? Let us know in the comments section below.
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