Voice search is here to stay. From smartphones to smart home voice assistants, the technology is growing fast and is already a significant part of online searches, and we’d def suggest making sure you’re part of it.
The 27% of the online population worldwide that uses voice search on mobile proves its significance. The numbers are expected to continue growing as more users experience the convenience of voice search.
So, should you optimise your content for voice search? We assure you; your competitors are doing it, and you should too if you want to stay ahead of the game.
We whipped up this guide with the 7 SEO strategies for voice search optimisation so you can do it better than your competitors.
What is Voice Search Optimisation?
Hint: it’s in the name. Voice search optimisation is the process of optimising your website to rank high on search result pages for voice searches. Ideally, your site comes up first before your competitor’s.
According to Google, 41% of adults and 55% of teens now use voice search daily. Call it a Sydney highway because that’s A LOT of traffic.
Voice Search and SEO
So, is voice search optimisation different from the traditional SEO we all know?
While optimisation for voice search does not introduce SEO aspects that are far different from what we already know, it’s different from keyboard searches in several ways such as:
It Uses Longer Keywords and Conversational Language
Voice searches use long-tail keywords and are more conversational. That is, the queries are voiced the way we speak and in the form of questions.
That makes speech searches fast, convenient and improves the search engine’s understanding of the search intent.
What would you prefer? Typing on a keyboard or speaking? I bet speaking (we all would).
For instance, you’re more likely to type “voice search optimisation” when carrying out a text search. But on voice search, you’ll probably use more conversational language with a question such as “what is voice search optimisation?”
Voice searches are significantly longer—less robotic language and more conversational. So, why not target long-tail keywords and adopt a natural language style to match that of your searchers?
The convenience of voice search makes it suitable to use in different locations. From searching for directions to services providers in a particular geographical area, you’re now less likely to get lost and find places easily.
The most obvious is “near me” searches. They help you find where to go and what you need. While they have grown over 150% in the past two years, voice searches are a significant part of it.
Want to find a restaurant? You can conduct detailed location-specific searches with voice search such as “which is the best Chinese restaurant in Seattle?” instead of “Chinese restaurant Seattle” in the text searches.
Why You Should Have Voice Search Optimisation in Your SEO Strategy
1. A Significant Population of Searchers Prefer It
Voice search is easier and more convenient. We speak faster than we type, which makes long queries straightforward when searching via speech.
Would you prefer to type “which is the longest river in the world after River Nile” or just speak it? All of us would choose the latter for convenience.
The reasons why people prefer voice searches range from speed and accuracy to the ability to customise searches to match their needs.
2. Everyone Wants Results Displayed in Seconds
Voice search results are delivered quicker than typed results. Some devices read them aloud for you.
Everyone is looking for a way to save time, from automated processes to using artificial intelligence; every chance to complete a task faster is appreciated.
Voice search allows you to multi-task and do tasks hands-free so you can complete them in a shorter time.
Voice Search Keyword Research
Like mentioned earlier, voice search uses long-tailed keywords in a natural language style. So, what are the keywords you should use for voice searches?
You can get them by analysing what people are searching for. But generally, here are the keywords you should target.
- Natural language keywords: If a keyword sounds robotic, ditch it. It’ll most likely not be used in voice searches—instead, target natural keywords used in conversations. So, instead of “keto weight loss“, the search would be “how can following a keto diet help me lose weight?”.
- Long-tail keywords: While few people search for long keywords in typed searches, they dominate voice searches—research and target long keywords with 5+ words. But don’t be tempted to stuff them in your content. Sprinkle the keywords in a natural way.
- Question keywords: Question keywords have been growing by 61% over the same period every year. Voice searches contain question words such as “why”, “what”, “how, “who”, “when”, etc. Use these words in your keywords.
How To Research for Voice Optimisation Keywords
For the usual keyword research, you’d use a keyword research tool. But for voice search keywords, you’ll need to do some more digging.
Most keyword research tools analyse keywords for text searches. Long-tail keywords are minimal, and you’ll most likely not get conversational keywords.
But that’s why we are here; to give you hacks and insights that work.
To get these keywords, use:
Answer the Public
Want to know what people are searching for? Just visit Answer the Public.
The tool allows you to enter the topic you’re searching for and gives you raw searches and queries that your target audience is searching for. You get to see the audience’s searches in the form of question keywords in the search queries.
BuzzSumo Question Analyser
Not all searchers turn to search engines. Others prefer forums and discussion sites.
The BuzzSumo Question Analyzer feature crawls thousands of forums and sites like Reddit, Amazon, and Quora to find key questions that people are asking.
You can search questions by keywords, forum, or subreddit. You can also filter the searches by the type of sites, such as e-commerce sites or a specific domain.
Semrush has a separate “Keyword Analytics” section that covers topics. When you search for a keyword, you get “phrase match keywords” and “related” keywords so you can form a long-tail keyword.
The Keyword Magic Tool in the Keyword Analytics feature gives you a list of all the question keywords that searchers are using for that specific keyword. Magical, indeed!
That’s not all.
When you use the “Topic Research” tool to search for a topic, you get a list of the commonly asked questions in that topic. There’s a section for the headlines and another for the questions which you can filter using the question phrases “what”, “which”, “are”, and “can”.
You can get all the long-tail keywords you need to please the bots with such a detailed keyword research tool.
7 SEO Strategies You Can Implement to Improve Voice Search Optimisation
1. Target Long-Tail Keywords
Since voice searches use conversational language, they are usually longer than typed searches. When we talk, the speech patterns are usually detailed and more specific.
Google also loves long-form content, especially if it’s detailed and complete. Creating many posts, each focusing on one keyword, might not be ideal. Instead, make long posts, each targeting several long-form keywords.
Research long-tail keywords that appear in voice queries and use them to create long-form content, together with the filler words such as “of”, “for”, “to”, “do”, etc.
How You Can Use Long-Tail Keywords
- Use the keywords in subheadings.
- Insert the long-tail keyword in the page's SEO meta description and the post's title and meta title.
- Use the keywords as alt tags on the images in the post.
- Ensure you use the keyword in the first paragraph.
2. Optimise for Local Searches.
Want to target the local population? Optimise for local searches. Many consumers use voice search to find local information such as “restaurants near me”, “best dry cleaners in Boston”, etc.
Local mobile searches are three times likely to be from voice searches than keyboard searches. It’s easier to ask a question via voice search on your phone where you’re out and about than typing it.
Google displays local search results of businesses registered in Google My Business (GMB) above the other search results, showing the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of the first three results.
Claim and optimise your GMB listing so your business can appear on the featured Google search local results, Google Maps, and Google Search Knowledge Panel.
You should provide accurate and up-to-date information on your hours of operation, NAP details, payment methods, and a lot of images. Also, create content on local news and events and target local keywords to improve local SEO.
You’ll not only be optimising your content for voice search but also typed searches. 46% of all searches have a local intent, so you’ll be targeting almost half of the traffic.
3. Create Content Using Conversational Language
Robots and crawlers may be pleased by your keyword-stuffed content, but you can be sure your audience will find it unnatural.
Generic content sounds like it was created using a template or the writer was bored and underpaid. It lacks emotion and is devoid of human touch and passion.
Voice search queries are conversational. So, to succeed in optimising your content for voice search, you need to be authentic, use natural language, and offer concise but valuable content.
Write as if you’re conversing with your audience by using everyday, conversational language. Understand the intent of the verbal searchers.
To do this, study the queries and their style.
- What questions are they asking?
- Which keywords are they using in the queries?
- What is the conversation style of different groups of people? For instance, young people’s conversations usually include colloquial language.
- Which answers are best suited for these questions?
- What are the best performing answers on the voice search results, and what do they have in common?
The best way to get this information is by analysing data. The keyword research tools above will come in handy.
4. Create Content That Answers Frequently Asked Questions
Voice search queries usually include questions that start with “How”, “When”, “What”, “Which”, “Where”, etc.
Focus on answering these questions concisely and in the shortest way possible. The average answers to voice search queries are 29 words long. Got more words? Preserve them for another blog post.
Search for a topic in your niche. You’ll most likely come across the “People Also Ask” (PAA) section with related questions. When you click on one question, it gives you the shortest concise answer, and the list of questions in the segment grows.
You’ll get a clear picture of what people are searching for and the questions they’re asking so you can create content around the questions. Include a segment of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on your blog posts and product pages.
5. Speed Up Your Site
The average loading time for voice search results is 4.6 seconds, around half the time it takes to load an average web page. That means if you want to rank on voice search queries, you must speed up your loading speed.
Bots won’t wait for your site to load results no matter how excellent your content is. If you were a bot, you’d also move on to the fastest website.
Humans are naturally impatient, and bots have also learnt the art of impatience. Searchers will abandon sites with slow speed, and the search engines will record high bounce rates. The more people bounce, the more the negative effect on your rankings.
The rules are the same for voice search. But instead of searchers bouncing from your site, it won’t appear in the voice search results.
Employ these strategies to improve your site speed.
- Reduce page redirects.
- Use browser caching so your site visitor doesn’t have to load your site every time.
- Use content distribution networks to distribute the work of delivering content.
- Optimise and compress images.
6. Create Structured Content
Structure your content into a more voice search-friendly layout. Also, incorporate questions and their simple but straightforward answers.
If you’re not yet using schema markup, it’s time to get acquainted. The tool helps search engines understand your content’s context and what your site is all about.
Google has a speakable schema property that allows search engines to identify speakable content on sites with markup and read it aloud using text-to-speech (TTS). Thus, to optimise for voice search, you need to create speakable structured data.
Creating structured data with schema markups, using natural conversation language, and including FAQs with concise answers will make it easier for bots to crawl your site.
7. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
How many times have you used your smartphone to search online? Very many times, I can imagine.
With almost 30% of the online population conducting voice searches on mobile, you can’t ignore your site’s mobile friendliness.
Google uses a mobile-first indexing feature that uses the page’s mobile version for indexing and ranking. That means you may see increased indexing and crawl rates.
Because mobiles are portable and more convenient, voice searches on mobile are more than on other devices. If you don’t improve the user’s experience on your website, you won’t drive traffic and don’t expect your site to appear on voice queries results either.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
Determining the mobile friendliness of your site is the first step to improving the user experience. Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool will give you a quick answer on whether or not your site is mobile-friendly.
It also provides a screenshot of how your site looks on a smartphone and additional resources to improve the mobile experience.
How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
If, after using the testing tool, you find your page’s mobile-friendliness is non-existent, here’s how you can change that.
- Use a simple and responsive website design
- Ditch pop-ups and text-blocking ads
- Enable a feature to switch to desktop view
- Use large buttons enough for mobile screens
- Use mobile viewpoint
- Don’t use flash
- Ensure you use standard fonts, and they’re large enough for mobile
Optimise Your Site for Voice Search
Voice search is gaining popularity among the global online population. From smart home devices to smartphones and PCs, there’s no shortage of voice assistant devices. We get that it's a pretty niche take on SEO but whether you like it or not, it's becoming more and more prevalent as technology evolves. That's why the crew at Neighbourhood have a killer team to help you with the success of your SEO strategy!
Speech queries will continue to grow, but will you grow alongside them?