Voice search is redefining the way marketers think about creating content for SEO. Currently, more than 50% of adults use voice search at least once a day, and that percentage is expected to increase in coming years as voice assistant, speech recognition, and AI technology continues to advance. So what does this mean for your business? If you’re not prioritizing voice search optimization efforts with your web content now, then you’re already behind.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to optimize your website for voice search so your brand can get ahead.
How Does Voice Search Work?
In short, voice search works when you ask a voice assistant a question and automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology converts the spoken question into digital, text-based data. That data is then processed and plugged into a search engine, which pulls the most relevant answer from its results page—typically the featured snippets—and serves it up to you.
Voice search technology can be found built into all kinds of devices that people use every day, including cell phones, computers, tablets, gaming consoles, smart appliances, smart speakers, vehicles, and more. Each of these devices has its own band-dependent voice assistant, like Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, or other top AI assistants.
Why Do People Use Voice Search?
People use voice search because it’s 3.7 times faster than typing out queries, making it easier to find quick answers to questions. People also voice search because they’re more convenient while on the go, especially when driving or when searchers are unable to use their hands. The technology can be vital for people with disabilities, too.
In many cases, people use voice search to perform routine tasks like setting timers or playing music, but they can also bring immediate answers to requests, like:
- Phone numbers
- Distance to local businesses
- How-to tutorials
How to Optimize for Voice Search
Since voice search is becoming increasingly common, it’s important for businesses to optimize their website and local citations for voice search to keep up with changing technologies and remain competitive. Below are seven key voice search tips for your business.
Use Conversational Language & Long-Tail Keywords
When people type a question into a search engine, they typically use clipped phrases containing short-tail keywords (e.g., “BBQ restaurants near me”). However, when using voice search to find information, people more often use natural, conversational phrases featuring long-tail keywords (e.g., “Where is the nearest barbecue restaurant?”). Using natural language will help your site rank higher on search engine results pages, so write website copy as close to how humans talk as possible.
One way to do this is to add filler words like the, for, in, to, a, and I to help your content match the exact phrases used in voice searches and commands.
- Where can I get the best BBQ in Kansas City?
- What are the best BBQ restaurants in Kansas City?
- Find a BBQ restaurant near me.
- How far away is the closest BBQ restaurant?
While these words may seem insignificant for traditional searches, they can go a long way when it comes to optimizing your content for voice search.
Focus on User Intent Phrases
When optimizing for voice search, incorporate user intent phrases and keywords in your copy that center around action and location. This helps search engines make the connection between your content and the actions users are trying to take, making it easier for you to get in front of customers.
A user might type “Chinese restaurants in New York City” into a search bar and be shown a variety of results ranging from news articles to local restaurant listings on Yelp. With voice search, however, a user might say “Find Chinese takeout near me” and be given more specific results that lead directly to online ordering pages for nearby restaurants. This is because there is user intent behind this voice search phrase (i.e., “find” and “near me”).
Adapt to Multilingual Voice Search
Multilingual SEO helps you expand your reach to searchers who speak other languages and provide a positive user experience to even more people.
You can’t rely on your English keyword research to have the same search volume in a non-English language. That’s why it’s best to have a content localization strategy where you research your main keywords across all target languages to find the most competitive keyword choices. Then, translate your existing content and implement your optimized keywords. Automatic translation tools and AI are simple to use for this but not always entirely accurate with translation, so hiring a translator who speaks the native language will allow you to compose trustworthy and authoritative copy that sounds natural.
Once your site has been translated, Hreflang attributes are needed to show the versions of your site in other languages. Select the “alternate” attribute to inform search engines that the other language versions are simply translations of content that already exists, not duplicate content.
Anticipate Common Queries with FAQ Pages
Consider what kinds of questions your target audience is asking and structure your content to answer them. What pain points do they have, and what solutions can you offer them? Creating an FAQ page is a great way to answer their questions, show more authority on your website, and increase your chances of securing a featured snippet on Google’s search results page, which is ideal for voice search SEO.
Since consumers usually search for information using words like “who, what, when, where, how,” the questions populating your FAQ page should also begin with those words. Because voice assistants tend to answer queries with short snippets of content, immediately follow up the question with a concise, conversational answer that includes target keywords. If necessary, you can go into more detail after this initial answer.
Additionally, make sure your FAQ page is easily located on your site and makes it clear what people should do if they still have questions after reading your answers.
Use Schema Markup to Boost Your Visibility
Make your content more discoverable through voice search by implementing schema markup on your website. Schema markup is an HTML site add-on that makes it easier for web crawlers to contextualize your site’s content, as well as which kinds of questions that content is able to answer.
With this voice search SEO tactic, consumer’s are served up more relevant responses to their queries and can find your site faster.
Free tools like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper can help you apply schema markup to your site to increase your content’s visibility on voice search.
Optimize for Mobile
56% of voice search users looking for businesses do so on their phones, so it’s important to optimize your site for mobile to cater to these people. Ensure that your site loads quickly on mobile and operates smoothly to avoid driving users away and increasing your website’s bounce rate. Similarly, ensure that information on your site, especially directions to your business, can be found easily by visitors.
Don’t Forget About Local Search Optimization
Voice search is used by around 58% of consumers to find businesses nearby, so it’s critical that you optimize your page for local voice search if you want to be found. There are a few factors that can influence how likely you are to show up in local results. These include:
- Your distance from the consumer
- How frequently your page is linked on other sites
- How many positive reviews you have
- Being listed in relevant directories
Start by claiming or updating your listings in various business directories. Here a few of the most common directories to consider:
- Apple Business Connect
- Bing Places for Business
- Google Business Profile
- Yellow Pages
Be sure to fill out your listings completely, including your business’ hours, address, and contact information, as well as any keywords that combine hyperlocal information with context about your business (e.g., “best pizza in Tacoma”). The more information you provide on these listings, the more likely it is that your business will appear in local voice searches. Creating a profile on multiple directories will optimize your content for different voice assistants, further expanding your brand’s reach.