Voice Search Is Rising: 7 Ways to Optimize Your Website & Content

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VIEWS: 13557 Views CATEGORY: SEO READING TIME: 11 Min To Read UPLOADED ON: 27 Aug 2018

At the beginning of this year, Alpine.ai reported an estimated one billion monthly voice searches. To boot, comScore reports that by 2020, voice searches will account for 50% of all searches. As a forward-thinking SEO, it's essential that you pay attention to these kinds of numbers because they indicate a fundamental shift in the web search habits of the public.

In other words, with the emergence of voice-controlled technologies like Google Home and Amazon Echo and virtual assistants like Apple-owned Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Alexa, people are increasingly talking to digital devices instead of the old-style typing of keywords in search engines.

This has a substantial impact on search engine optimization. It would help if you started thinking about content and SEO differently.

The data speaks for itself.

  • OC&C Strategy Consultants reported that in 2017 alone, voice-powered commerce accounted for $1.8 billion in U.S. retail revenues and that the figure is expected to reach $40 billion by 2022:
  • In 2018, Google stated, "20% of all Android searches are coming from voice!" Google Voice Search queries have also risen dramatically in the past years:
  • According to, MindMeld — an advanced AI platform — many users have only recently begun to use the voice search functionality regularly, with almost 42 per cent of users using voice search for the first time within the past six months:
  • The ADI Consumer Electronics Report said that more than half of all owners of voice assistants use it more than once per day, and more than 20 per cent rely on it for online shopping.
  • One in six Americans (16%) own a voice-activated smart speaker, according to a 2018 Edison Research and NPR report, with 7% of those having acquired it for their homes in the past two years, outpacing the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets.

If you have yet to get it, this data shows that voice search is becoming mainstream and should be taken seriously for the best Internet marketing ROI. And talking about data, Google is considering adding voice query data to the Google Search Console to make it easy for marketers and web admins to track, measure, and improve their voice search metrics.

But until then, here's how to optimize your content and website for the voice search revolution.

Optimizing for Voice Search

First, the good news is that you're not entirely late to the party… yet. Voice search is rapidly rising, but if you start now, you can still stay ahead of the curve in your niche and take advantage of the growing popularity of voice searchers.

Here are seven strategies you can adopt:

Make your content conversational.

When a voice searcher needs information, he uses his natural human speech to ask for it, making it conversational. Accordingly, voice technologies like virtual assistants are wired to process this natural human speech.

To gain traction, your content must contain "conversational titbits" and sound more like a human-to-human converse. That's the future of content creation!

The search engine (Google) is already engineered to understand the context of your content by the use of semantics (this started with Google Hummingbird in 2013 and is being continued with Google RankBrain), and it relies on Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand natural-language queries.

How do you optimize your content for conversations?

Traditionally, marketers use the old-fashioned keyword pattern like "gas stations in Seattle." But suppose you needed Cortana to find the nearest gas station for you, the natural language would sound like this:

"Cortana, which gas stations are open now?"

As you can see, this search term sounds more like you're talking to someone on the other side. Thus, your content should be optimized to answer such natural-language questions. You would also want to use long-tail keywords… ..because conversational [voice] queries are usually longer than text-based searches.

Reason? We use short phrases when we type into a computer because it saves physical effort. But when talking, we tend to use longer search phrases.

Provide local content, AKA things to do "near me."

The Internet Trends Report 2016 found that 22 per cent of all search engine users use voice search to find local information. It makes sense because people find such information primarily while on the go (using their mobile devices). And the use of mobile devices has grown in recent years so much that it has overtaken desktop usage.

Again, in recent years, the phrase "near me" has become very popular in the search landscape, receiving tons of searches.

Between July-December 2015 and July-December 2017, the "near me" mobile search saw a 500 per cent increase in volume when combined with phrases like "to buy," "can I buy," or similar terms, according to a comparison of Google Data. A related mobile search recently surged in frequency is "near me now." That phase increased by 900 per cent in the same period.

The "near me" search allows users to find location-specific information without mentioning their location. This is possible because internet-connected mobile devices already know where we are, using location-detection features and IP addresses.

Voice searchers always use the "near me" search phrases, especially on mobile. And to top it, 50 per cent of local mobile searches lead to same-day store visits. You must provide locally-focused content, mainly if your business targets local audiences. 

Update your Google My Business listing.

Beyond providing locally-focused content on your website, Google My Business is another tool you can leverage to enhance your local SEO. You should claim the Google My Business listing for your business and update your business information thoroughly. The more current and complete the news in your Google My Business listing, the more practical, relevant, and visible it'll be to both Google and local searchers.

When Google My Business is optimized to work with the "near me" tack, it becomes even more remunerative as customers can easily find you through hyper-local queries.

What can I do to optimize my Google My Business listing?

  • Use your business domain instead of a free Gmail account for your Google My Business login. This gives your business website more visibility and further ups your brand.
  • Add your correct business name, address, and phone number (NAP). This is very important because when searching for local businesses, some of the core information users often look for are your NAP details.
  • Choose a category to help Google understand what your business is about. Choosing a type can mean distinguishing between appearing at the top vs. disappearing from the voice search results.
  • Complete the introduction field with a detailed description (about 400 words) of your business.
  • Upload a handful of handy, high-quality pictures of your business to persuade prospective buyers to visit your store. Product images work great for this. If you're selling a generic product, you don't need to invest in its photoshoot, as you can find pictures online. The reverse image lookup tool is a handy option to achieve effective results in this chore.

Give users immediate results.

Given that voice searches are performed primarily while the user is on the go, it's not expected that the user should visit and start navigating your website.

What they're looking for is an immediate answer.

Let's say that a user wants a laundry service nearby. After performing a voice search, Google pulls some information from Google My Business to return the nearest laundry services with their addresses, operational hours, directions, etc., to the user. 
Based on the user's preferences, he can choose a laundry service and click the "Message" button to chat directly with the service provider.

That way, the user can reach his end goal without spending time browsing your website. In the case of informational queries, users still want an immediate result.

Optimizing your website to load at lightning speed can go a long way to help in this regard. It would be best if you also aimed at getting your content rank on "position zero"; that is, to appear as featured snippets above the fold. The reason is that Google Home and Google Assistant are engineered to read out featured snippets when they answer voice search queries.

Use Schema markup

Schema markup (also called structured data and found at Schema.org) is a form of microdata or a semantic vocabulary of tags that you can add to your HTML to improve how search engines read and present your page in SERPs. It provides search engines with additional information about the information on your website.

It's only sometimes visible to users but can determine what information they see. It's also one of the most advanced yet significantly underutilized SEO practices, so by creating schema markup for your site, you're already putting yourself way ahead of the competition.

Here's an example of a schema markup:

So, how does schema markup influence voice search?
As mentioned, when users search for local businesses, they often look for details like operational hours, addresses, contact information, directions, distances from the user's location, etc.

Using schema markup, you can describe the above specific information to search engines (telling them, "This is my contact information", for example), who will understand and present such data whenever needed.

Side note: Google has announced official support for the Schema.org Speakable specification… which means the speakable specification will help Google Assistant and Google Home find and select which content to read aloud.

Become mobile-friendly

Google always aims to provide its users with the best user experience (UX). That's their #1 drive. To do well on SERPs, your website has to be optimized to offer great UX. It starts with making your site responsive. In the case of voice search, that would mean making your site mobile-friendly, given that voice search mainly happens on mobile devices (and digital assistants). According to Think with Google, 88 per cent of "near me" searches are performed on mobile:

You can use SmallSEOTools's Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to test the mobile-friendliness of your site and fix what needs fixing.

Answer customers' questions

Voice searches are mostly usually framed as questions.

  • Hey Google, what are the best hotels in Yorkshire?
  • Alexa, what's the latest in sports tonight?

Most businesses only answer user questions with their FAQ page. But you can take it up by incorporating user questions into your web copy and blog content.

First, consider how your audience speaks about your business, products, and services. Then, create their most frequently asked questions and sprinkle those all over your content with precise answers. Use practical SEO tools to find common questions for your niche and use that as a basis to create your content. Include the question as an H2, and answer it in the body text directly below. Doing this will significantly increase your chances of appearing in featured snippets and voice search results.
 

Conclusion

With Cortana now having 133 million monthly users, according to Microsoft and 19 per cent of iPhone users using Siri daily, according to Hubspot, voice search is rapidly rising, and its growth is still ongoing. That's both good and bad for SEOs.

It's good for savvy SEOs who understand the power of voice search and start optimizing their content and website for t. And it's terrible for those who disregard the trend, continue creating the same old content, and implement outdated SEO strategies. You must return to the drawing board and rethink your SEO strategy to incorporate voice search optimization. Of course, voice-activated queries are now used interactively to find (primarily local) information. But over time, those queries will become more transactional as virtual assistants are improved to complete bookings and purchases.

It has already started d. For example, Google announced that it has already integrated a batch of third-party transactional services into Google Home, including Ticketmaster, Uber, Pandora, Spotify, and OpenTab e. Also, users can now use Amazon Alexa to complete transactional actions like booking an Uber ride or ordering a pizza from Domino's.

Bottom line: It's time to optimize for voice search.

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