Tips for Voice Search Optimization

Tips for Voice Search Optimization

Virtual assistants and smart speakers are here to stay, so if you haven’t implemented voice search optimization for your website, you’re missing out on leads. Google suggests that nearly 30% of queries are completed by voice, and as artificial intelligence and recognition software in our watches, speakers, and infotainment systems grow more sophisticated, users will come to rely on the convenience of these hands-free web searches. 

What Is Voice SEO?

Voice search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of implementing keywords and updating your local listing so your website appears in the results for searches completed using voice assistants, such as Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Bixby, Cortana—the list goes on.  

Voice software listens to your commands and questions, deciphers the request in real time, and then the search engine provides an answer in seconds. If the result is a straightforward reply, the device will read the answer to you verbatim. When the answer to the query is a list—for example, ‘nearby restaurants’—the top results will be populated on the associated tablet, phone, or car’s touchscreen. 

Marketers can’t lean on the usual search engine optimization tactics exclusively and expect to reach the voice-search crowd. For an answer to rank—or, to be read aloud by a voice assistant—it has to meet its own set of optimized requirements. Read on to learn five changes you can make now to start boosting your standings for voice search.

1. Improve Your Organic Rankings

Voice search engines use organic rankings to determine who has the best answer for a query. If you want Google Voice and other search engines to use your website as the information source, you need to rank well. It’s estimated that 80% of the answers are pulled from within the top three positions on the SERP (search engine results page). Improving your position by boosting your blog’s SEO and tidying up other content can strengthen your authority and give you the top spot for voice results—and it certainly won’t hurt results from typed-in queries.

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2. Earn Featured Snippets

Google decides whether a page would make a good “Featured Snippet,” which is a way of showcasing the result using a highlighted portion of the text, placing it in the People Also Ask section, or showing it in a knowledge box panel to the side of the SERPs. When voice search engines look for an answer to a question, they value Featured Snippets. These relevant responses are read aloud to the searcher from the website. 

Optimizing your site with frequently asked questions (FAQs) is an excellent strategy that can provide your audience valuable information and earn your web page a spot in a Featured Snippet. Just remember that the answers to Frequently Asked Questions will be read aloud for voice searchers. If the language is too complex, too long, or punctuated in a way that’s difficult to understand without a visual, the listener will have difficulty following. A good benchmark is 30 or fewer words, but the length can be whatever is needed to provide a clear, concise, and complete answer. 

Use Data Markup for Snippet Content

Schema, or structured data markup, organizes information so search engines can more easily make sense of your content, which in turn helps your page show up as a Featured Snippet. Markup will include details about the content to let Google know it is a video, an image, an ingredients list, or an FAQ section.

Because the markup process can take some time to implement, you might want to enlist the help or advice of a pro. If you’re tackling this yourself, select pages that aren’t seasonal and that generate some level of traffic as they currently exist. Start with a few pages, monitor their performance, and then continue your efforts if they seem fruitful.

3. Prioritize Local SEO

The prominence of voice search, which has skyrocketed by 146% in the last five years, has increased the importance of optimizing for local queries. Hands-free mobile searches and navigating via vehicle infotainment systems means a person is likely on the move and looking for a business or service nearby. To capture the audience looking for services, restaurants, and businesses in your specific area, you’ll need to make local SEO a priority, starting with these two strategies:

  • Update Google Business Profile: “Near me” searches are amongst the most common voice queries. Optimizing your Google Business Profile so it is accurate and consistent is key for the person searching and the search engine to know you fit their query.

Request Reviews: Highly rated businesses appear higher in the SERP compared to those with poor or few ratings. When customers use keywords like “wedding,” “anniversary,” or “manicure,” the search engine highlights these words in customers’ reviews, adding to your authority.


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4. Target Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are often natural phrases that mimic the way people speak to voice assistants. Think about the difference between typing in “romantic restaurants near me” versus asking the voice assistant “What are the top romantic restaurants in my area?” Targeting the full phrases people use in these conversational queries gives you a better chance of matching the search intent. 

Whether you’re giving advice like how to sneak vegetables into kids’ food or offering tips for dog training, focusing on answering the common ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’ questions can help you include some long-tail keywords naturally that searchers are likely to use. Incorporate a mix of strategic long-tail and primary keywords into your content to attract customers however they search.

5. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Mobile users are fans of voice search because they can get answers quickly while on the go, driving, or multitasking. The mobile experience is a conventional SEO ranking factor, but can also make a big impact on voice searchers’ satisfaction. If someone found value in the answer read aloud for their question but then couldn’t navigate your website to continue reading or browse related products, then you need to make updates. Make sure your design is responsive and evaluate how conversion rate optimization for mobile users can transform these voice searchers into customers.

Wondering what else might be missing in your SEO strategy? Contact Eight Oh Two today to discover new growth opportunities. Our expertise in paid search advertising and organic optimization can help you find leads however your audience is searching.

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