One out of every two readers visits us through a mobile device. This ratio is similar to that of many other websites. As a webmaster, it’s reasonable to try everything possible to optimize the site for a better mobile experience. Are a mobile-friendly theme and performant host enough to delight users?
Indeed, a good theme, a few effective site-improving plugins, and a reliable host are the basics of a good site, but they’re not enough. Voice search is no longer hype or service enjoyed by early adopters.
You will have to optimize your website for voice search sooner or later, so you’d better jump on the bandwagon before your competitors.
Is Voice Search the Future?
Before preparing your site for voice search, you should have a clear idea about it. Is it the future of search? Does it impact search results? Well, voice search isn’t the future. It’s the present! A bunch of key data reveals the magnitude of the voice search. Here are just a few pieces of eloquent data:
- 27% of the global online population uses voice search on mobile. Young people use it more frequently, but adults aren’t strangers to voice search, either.
- Consumer spending through voice search is expected to reach 18% by 2022. You simply can’t afford to neglect such an important customer segment.
- 20% of mobile queries are voice searches, said Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
It’s not data-backed research, but ask your friends and relatives if they own or plan to purchase a virtual assistant such as Alexa or Google Assistant. I guesstimate that there are enough people interested in purchasing a virtual assistant to make you consider the potential of voice search.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
Optimizing content for voice search isn’t rocket science, but you need a lot of time and a spark of creativity. The following items will shape your strategy to get more relevant results in an environment of perpetual growth of voice search queries.
Leverage Conversational Words
Even though the ultimate purpose is the same, voice and text searches are different. Text search means typing keywords while voice search means using words conversationally. Hence, you have to rewrite content using more conversational words, if possible.
For instance, when talking to a virtual assistant, you’d probably ask considerably more questions than when using a text search.
Answer the Public is a magnificent tool that offers countless suggestions for your keywords. On top of that, it’s simple to use. Visit it, type in your keywords, and it generates suggestions falling into categories such as Questions, Prepositions, Comparisons, Alphabetical, and Related.
Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
Intensive use of long-tail keywords goes hand in hand with conversational words. Generally, when performing a query, people speak more words than they would type. Therefore, focus on long-tail keywords, and you will attract more visitors through voice search.
Long-tail keywords consist of three to five (or even more!) words, and it’s usually easier to rank among the first position for them on search results pages. Short-tail keywords consist of one or two words, and for most of them, it’s hard to get the first position.
Somehow, voice search gives small and medium businesses the chance to rank high for particular keywords. It’s becoming harder and harder for big brands to focus on both short-tail and long-tail keywords. That is another serious reason why you should do your best to optimize your content for voice search.
Speed Matters (Again)
You are right to be annoyed by so many articles about site loading speed. We have also written a lot of articles in this respect.
For example, we showcased the best tools to speed up your site, and this post provides quality tips for speeding up your site. Even though you may be bored with it, speed matters a lot, and it matters for voice search too!
Brian Dean from Backlinko conducted thorough research and found that sites that performed well in PageSpeed do the same for voice search. Mobile users are impatient, and no one will wait for your website to load. Do everything possible to make your site load fast for both text and voice search.
Priority for Local Businesses
Voice search gives local businesses an impressive boost. Just check how the expression “near me” has grown in the last five years on Google Trends. The global lockdown has harmed its growth. (That’s pretty normal. Why would someone search for “near me” when staying at home watching Netflix?) But it will surely return to its ascending trend.
Convince and Convert reveals that voice search is three times more likely to be local. That means that local businesses should make more efforts to optimize the content for voice search. Also, local SEO is vital in getting people to step inside your brick-and-mortar business.
Add content about the proximity of your business to local institutions and tourist traps, use conversational expressions, and optimize the meta title and description for local search.
You have probably noticed on a few searches in the past that Google provided a list of steps or a graph to resolve your issue or provide more data right before the search results.
This information is one of Google’s recent additions, and they take the form of featured snippets. These provide the needed information directly within the search results page, saving users’ time.
Mobile users, including voice searchers, are delighted with this format, so aim to get your site in these places. SEO Hackers said that Google Assistant favors featured snippets. Indeed, considering that voice searches are mostly question-based, a list of steps to fix a problem makes sense.
Create FAQ Pages
Voice searchers have provoked a subtle but game-changing shift: they are mostly looking for answers, not information. An FAQ page works miracles in this respect. Essentially, FAQ pages contain short answers to common questions. This approach is perfect for voice search results.
On top of that, an FAQ page is simple to create. Just ask the support team about the customers’ most common pain points. If your business needs an FAQ page and doesn’t have one, you should act immediately.
This tip comes naturally, but it’s worth mentioning here. Using jargon and overly complicated words doesn’t make you look like an expert. Instead, you disappoint users who need to look for answers on other sites. It’s a webmaster’s worst nightmare.
Google favors sites with clear, easy-to-read content. Rewrite the long phrases, look for simple synonyms, and try to be concise. People and Google like this approach.
You probably know that Google likes long-form content, and the search results in the first positions are usually over 1,500 words. Brian Dean’s research offers precious insights: Google likes long-form content for voice search, too.
That’s pretty awesome because you don’t have to create separate content for text and voice search. All you have to do is to create compelling content that completely presents a topic.
Don’t expect your site to perform well in voice search and perform badly in text search. The authority of your website is capital in both instances. Google prefers authoritative sites because they increase the chances of providing a satisfactory answer to end-users.
How to transform your site into an authoritative source is a lengthy topic. It takes time to convince search engine spiders about your reputation. It boils downs to creating quality content and attracting backlinks from trusted sites.
Official User Guides
User guides are boring, but they include plenty of useful information. You don’t have any choice but to read the main digital assistants’ user guides. Microsoft released a complete guide for Cortana, Apple has one for Siri, and Google has one for Google Assistant.
It takes time to read these guides, but you’d better do it because major players share the information in the online industry.
There is no SEO for voice search. It’s just good old SEO particularized for voice search. Willing or not, you have to keep adding fresh and relevant content, promote it like crazy, and acquire as many backlinks as possible. That is nothing new to you.
On top of that, the voice search fits perfectly with the idea that webmasters should focus on the users and not on search engines. Write more naturally, use long-tail keywords, and think about the users’ needs.
Work hard to provide the most excellent content on the internet, and Google will rank your website high, no matter if people use voice or text search.