Since Siri was first released in 2011, voice search has moved from party trick to essential tool in our daily lives.
With ⅕ of queries on Google being voice search, and nearly one in ten people receiving a voice-activated digital assistant this holiday season, it’s obvious that voice search is not a passing fad.
It’s also not just something used by the young and uber digitally-savvy, or exclusively people who are on the go. While the Gen Z and millennials are the most likely to use voice search, folks from all age groups are actively using it while at home, at work and in the bathroom (don’t act surprised, you know you do it too!).
The reality is, voice search is here to stay, and businesses need to pay attention to get found online.
Is optimizing for voice search that much different?
Yes and no. Yes, because people speak searches very differently than they type them. And no, because making sure your site is user- and mobile-friendly has always been a key factor in organic search ranking.
How exactly are voice searches different then?
First and foremost, voice queries are more conversational, longer and oftentimes in question format. This is because we can speak faster than we can type, and it just feels more natural. Typed searches are often shorter and not always grammatically correct, saving time and physical effort.
Voices searches often have local intent or context. According to Internet Trends Report, 22% of voice searches are for local information.
And finally, users often want immediate and concise results--an answer to a question, directions to a nearby store, a recipe. They don’t care about visiting your website. They won’t fill out your lead form. They won’t purchase a thing if they have no experience with your brand or products.
Okay, so how do I account for these differences and optimize my site for voice search?
There are four key approaches to optimize for voice search:
1. Use structured data
Structured data, also known as schema markup, helps tell Google and other search engines what your site content is about without changing how it looks to users. It doesn’t directly impact search ranking, but the added context and improved structure can give you a competitive edge. This is especially important for voice search, where there is essentially on one result.
The types of things you can inform Google about with structured data are:
If you’re using a ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, structured data is already included for products, reviews, blogs and company. If you’re on WordPress, numerous plugins exist to help create and organize structured data.
2. Conduct keyword research for voice searches
Leverage the target keywords you’ve identified for online search, and brainstorm the types of questions people are asking related to these keywords. There are several tools that can help you in this process:
Answer the Public - Enter a keyword and get a bunch of questions
FAQ Fox - Searches top online resources for questions based on any keyword you input.
Google’s “People Also Ask” - Simply Google search for any term and look for the section with other questions related to that search.
3. Write content in Q&A format
Now that you know the questions people are asking, you can create content to answer them. Go beyond a standard FAQ page by creating a separate resource page and/or blog post for each of these questions.
Use the actual question in the content posed as a user would ask it. That means using first person not third person (i.e., “how do I string a recurve bow” not “how do you string a recurve bow” or “how to string a recurve bow”). Optimize the page as you would any other content--include keywords in page title and copy, write a unique meta description, include internal links using the keywords as anchor text.
4. Think local
As we now know, a good portion of voice searches have local intent or context.
This is a bit more obvious for local businesses with a brick-and-mortar establishment. Use geo-modified keywords for your locality, claim and optimize your Google My Business location, update all map listing and local directory sites with MozLocal (and be vigilantly consistent with Name-Address-Phone data), make sure your address is in your website footer, and use local structured data.
If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar, you can still think local by creating blog posts that have local content. A great place to start is by highlighting satisfied customers or using customer testimonials. Mention the customer’s name and their location, even getting so detailed as to mention neighborhoods. Additionally, you can write blog posts that explain how or why use your products in certain areas. For example, if you sell women’s shoes, discuss new footwear trends in Los Angeles or why customers shouldn’t go another winter in Michigan without waterproof boots.
We don’t yet know what the future of voice search will be. Today, however, we know it’s prevalent and growing, and if your business gets started now you’ll be ahead of your competition. The good news is, you don’t have to start your SEO strategy from scratch. Some minor tweaks and some new pages can have a major impact.
If you have questions about voice search optimization or other SEO initiatives, contact Interstellar to learn more.