How to Optimize for Voice Search: 4 Simple SEO Strategies (2019)

How to optimise your site for Voice Search

Voice search is considered as the most important part of 2019’s and future world SEO processes. Voice search is gaining prominence each day as many users find speaking with an assistant like Google Home and Alexa to be more convenient than typing text. The results for voice queries also tend to be much faster.

Here are some of statistics to prove that voice search is the here to stay;

  • Consumer purchase trends for wearable tech, smart speakers and other IoT devices is on the rise and that means better engagement with the devices.
  • Voice labs identified that over 33 million voice-first devices were in circulation
  • According to a survey by SEO trends, voice search came third.
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai in his keynote announced that about one-fifth of the queries on Google were actually voice searches.

User cases of voice search

  • Teenagers have been proven to be savvy users of voice search
  • There are dozens of smart devices that are enabled for voice search as users are on the lookout for ways that they can use to centralize their smart devices into one smart hub and smart speakers provide the logical way of doing that.

Optimizing for the traditional search is quite different from voice. According to some research studies, the first organic Google search result gets up to about 35.35 percent of clicks. It has been estimated that by 2020 up to 50 percent of all the search activities will be conducted by voice.

With increased use of digital assistants, optimizing for voice search has become quite critical for SEO success. The way consumers search is gradually changing and that means that we must optimize for businesses, websites, and content in order to keep up.

What is Voice Search Optimization

Voice-based search engine optimization entails optimising content, brand information, and location with the aim of increasing the powering of voice search results. Voice search are used everywhere on the go, including the bathroom.

Typing a query on a search engine like Google has changed the user’s behavior to input keywords over syntactical text. Voice searches seem to be more natural when compared to searches that contain some disconnected keywords.

Those behind voice assistant powered devices and search engines have realised how natural language processing can be used in extracting keywords from search queries. It therefore means that SEO content creators should also change how they optimize if the desired results are to show up on page one of SERPs for the voice searches.

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Since voice searches normally have longer word counts when compared to text searches, it’s advisable that use of long-tail keywords be considered.

How Voice Search ties to Google’s algorithm;

The Hummingbird update

In 2013, Google launched such a major algorithmic update which was referred to us the Google Hummingbird. It focused on considering user intent and the contextual meaning of queries. Marketers were then forced to refine their strategy as they went from stuffing lots of keywords into an article to addressing pain points for the target audience.

Voice search is based on natural language processing (NLP) for recognition of behavior, voice texture and interests. Google with time gets to learn your language, accent, behavior, the way you speak and other patterns. It focuses more on the semantics as well as the wider contextual relevance of the user’s query. As Google continues with the improvement of its algorithm, we can be assured that the user experience will be more smooth and intuitive.

3 characteristics of voice search

Let’s begin by analyzing voice search data on how it’s used;

Voice queries are longer and contains conversational words

When using a computer, we normally use short phrases to find information as it saves from typing more text. On mobile, the searchers with a virtual assistant tend to be a conversation. Artificial intelligence helps with powering voice search engines and it gets smarter with every conversation.

When searching for hotels by typing on your computer or phone, you are more likely to type in a computer language “best hotels in San Diego”. When using voice search, you may ask a question like, “Which restaurant serves the best dinner?

Avoid equating voice search optimization to use of long tail keywords in your content as voice search is more likely to have question phrases. Keyword research tools may not identify the phrases that people speak as they use mobile voice assistants. Focus should therefore be given to question phrases for voice search. There has been growth in question phrases over the years.

How to leverage on the characteristic

You should take into consideration how your audience speaks about your products, services or business in general. Avoid use of long tail keywords as such will return text-based queries. They will likely pull alphabetical variations and LSI keywords. For voice search optimization, you can start your research with use of a tool knows as Answer the Public. Once you enter a keyword, it returns a number of questions.

How Voice SEO Works

The natural language phrases that are generated are full of insights. You can easily get insight about the consumer’s mindset and connect it to your marketing plan. You can also interpret the intent of the user based on the type of question that they use. What and who questions show that the user is still at the research phase. Where questions show that they are ready to buy.

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Another strategy that you can use to find questions that your customers use is by logging into Google Analytics account. You can then check on keywords that people use to identify your content. You can then expect a separate voice search report in your Google analytics report.

About 22% of the voice queries are for local content

According to Internet Trends Report 2016, it reported that 22% of people use voice search to look for local information. This makes sense as people tend to use mobile phones on the go.

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Google revealed that the near me searches have tremendously grown to over 130% YOY and people are extensively using the search query for the “things to do near me.”

It is more of a mobile driven phenomenon as use of mobile searches makes “near me” searches to be far much faster and easier for the users.

How to leverage on the Mobile Searches

Are you aware that 50% of mobile searches by customers lead to visiting a store within a day? Given that many users have local intent when searching on the mobile phones, you should get the keywords right. You can gain more business by incorporating these keywords into your SEO strategy;

  • Phrases that people use when describing the neighborhood around your location.
  • “Near me” in all of the title tags, internal links, Meta description and the anchor text.
  • Landmarks near your business location
  • Titles of local institutions that is relevant to your business.

Users want immediate results

Top most use of voice queries remains deeply rooted in personal assistance with both teens and adults using voice search to make calls and ask for directions. Even for finding local and general information, users may not use your website. There intent is quite clear when looking for services by local business.

Suppose a user wants laundry services, they will perform a voice search for the nearby laundry. Google then returns the nearest laundry with the addresses, the distance from the user’s location, timings and even reviews.

Based on the preferences and ratings, a user can choose a laundry then make a call directly or book an appointment. Even for entertainment and information related queries, users will still require an immediate answer. Your content that’s relevant for the search queries should therefore appear as a snippet over the fold.

How to leverage on Reviews

Your business structure needs to have a number of healthy positive reviews. Ensure that you also update your office hours the physical address and contact details alongside other relevant issues. Answering your user’s questions is capable of positioning you for the coveted #0 spot.

With the above characteristics in place, let’s now focus on SEO strategies that can be used to optimize for voice search;

Strategy 1: Use structured data

The first part to start is in finding out whether you solely write for your audience. Search engines look at a number of factors apart from content to determine the relevance of a page and its position in the search results. Professional SEOs use additional factors to leverage and further optimize their content for the search engines.

Structured data or schema markup is one of the elements used by SEOs for optimization and leveraging. It doesn’t have a direct effect on the rankings but is capable of giving you an edge over the competitors. It is essentially a Meta data which is generally data about the information you have on your website. It goes right into your website source code.

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The visitors may not see it but micro data helps search engines with organization and classification of your content. It is a strategy that is under-utilised as it requires work. Schema can also be used for search enhancement and for a visually appealing result on the search engine results page.

Micro data is relevant for voice search in the sense that when users search for a local business, they normally look for operational hours, address, contact information and directions to the location. Micro data can be used to help in ensuring that search engines classify the information.  You should also consider submitting a detailed sitemap to Google as you also ensure that the structured data pages are not blocked by use of robots.txt or other control methods.

Strategy 2: Claim Google My Business Listing

Voice search gets a higher number of local queries so if you want an easy way of helping your customers then consider sharing business information at the website’s footer in a simple text format. There are two ways through which users can use to search for the local businesses here are the examples;

  1. Salon services in San Francisco – If in case you have your website optimized for the local keywords, then your chances of appearing higher in search results are higher.
  2. Salon services near me – For questions like this, Google tends to rely on the user’s location and then turns to Google My        Business listings. That’s why it’s vital that you claim Google My Business listing.

Ensure that the business name, address and the telephone number are accurately shown. The phone number should have the area code and you can use your domain business for Google My Business login instead of a free Gmail account. The introduction field should be used as business pitch and you can use about 400 words to describe the products or services that you deliver.

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Ensure that you choose the right category for your business as that can make a difference between appearing at the top and disappearing from voice search results.

Strategy 3: Get mobile friendly

Voice search mostly takes place on the mobile devices so your site should be mobile friendly. Google prefers responsive web design and several WordPress themes are so. You can use tools such as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to ascertain whether your website complies with Google’s set guidelines.

You website should also be able to load fast so you can test the load speed by plugging your site in Page Speed Insights for details on your load speed. If in case you want to identify the elements that are slowing your website down then you can plug it into Webpagetest.org. You will then get content breakdown and a graph that shows how each of the elements is affecting your load time.

Once you have fixed your design and website speed, you should then move to the content. You should have the awareness that people tend to read content on desktops in an F-shaped pattern. It is however different with mobile devices.

Reading habits are evolving rapidly on mobile so content requires optimizing so as to aid scalability. You should consider use of short sentences; choose simple words with engaging sub-headings and small paragraphs. Consider leaving lots of white space as well.

Strategy 4: Create Blog Posts that address your customer’s questions

People tend to speak different keywords from the ones they type in the search engines as they refer to a business, products or services. For example, a user may type “salon near me” but while using voice search they might say “what is the nearest salon near me”.

You should be able to listen carefully to the words that people tend to use while speaking to you. Collect the common phrases and questions then use the information to create content for them. Many companies limit that to the FAQ page however it’s advisable that you create dedicated blog posts that is based on the customer’s questions.

You can consider optimizing the existing content on your product pages and your blog for the queries. Identifying your audience questions and answering them through blog posts will not only help with voice search alone, it is also quite profitable. If you lack insight of how customers describe your products or services then you could be missing critical business insights.

Creating content that focuses on addressing customer’s questions can significantly increase the chances of appearing higher in voice search results.

Conclusion

As much as the future of voice search is not predictable, one thing is clear that it’s gaining traction with its growth not slowing down soon. That can be both good and bad for marketers. It‘s good for the marketers with understanding of the power of voice search and are working on optimizing their content for voice search.

It is however bad for the marketers who ignore the trend and continue with creation of the same old content. Consider getting back to the drawing board and modifying the SEO strategy to effectively incorporate voice search optimization.

It may require hard work but voice search optimization has the potential of making your content much closer to the natural human language. This is the perfect time to take up voice SEO if you are to gain that competitive edge.

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