Currently 20% of Google queries are voice searches and this is expected to increase substantially over the next few years. It isn’t just the younger generations, older generations are using voice search on their phones (Siri) and via home/virtual assistants (Google Home and Amazon Echo).
If you haven’t already begun, you need to start optimizing your website for voice searches. Consider the following elements when optimizing for voice search.
Think like your (potential) customers
What sort of search terms would your target customer use to find your business? If you have a restaurant, people might search for specific types of food in a particular city or neighbourhood. If you’re a plumber, potential customers may use their phone or their Amazon Echo to find help as they have their hands full cleaning up a mess. Think about what might be in their query.
- “Siri, list plumbers in my area with 24/7 service.”
- “Alexa, which restaurants in Leslieville are open now?”
Is your business currently suggested from voice search based on the way it’s set up today? Have you ever tried? Now might be a great time to check.
If not, there are a number of foundation things you need to do first to maximize the chances of your business being suggested.
One major factor for ranking in voice searches is local SEO.
- Have you claimed your business listing with Google?
- Are you listed on business directories for your local area?
- Have you claimed your business on Yelp and checked your operating hours, phone number and other information is up to date?
You will need to ensure your website is easy to view on phones. Voice search optimization is useless until you address that. Otherwise, once your potential customers land on your site and need to squint to find out additional information about you, they will be off to find a more mobile-friendly site. A mobile optimized website that is easy to navigate is essential.
Speed up your website
People using mobile devices for voice search tend to be looking for information quickly, hence using their microphone instead of typing out searches. This means speed is vital. Bounce rates are higher on mobiles than desktop, proving mobile users have less patience. You will need to optimize your website for speed so that it loads quickly.
Voice search optimization strategy
Build your site content to provide short and concise answers to the questions that could be asked by a potential customer. Ways to do this include:
A FAQ section with very specific questions and answers. Leverage popular search terms used in questions and answers the way you would an SEO article (designed to attract search engines with long-tail and geographical keywords).
Adding a blog to your website is a great way for you to continually feed search engines the content they want. Blog posts can address specific questions and answers and be done in a way that attracts search engine results for desktop, mobile and voice-based searchers (triple win).
Produce great content… and often
Make sure you update your site with fresh, relevant keyword-rich content. The more frequently you update your site with voice searchers in mind, the more chance you’ll have of being indexed by search engines.
It’s also helpful to leverage marked-up headings, categories, tags, good descriptive permalink structure, alt image tags and other SEO best practices in your content to assist with not only your voice search SEO but also your overall optimization.
Don’t forget home/virtual assistants
While you produce content for your site, remember, not only will people use voice search to get to your site and find the information they want from their smartphone, but there are also home/virtual assistants (Google Home and Amazon Echo) to consider where a screen won’t be used.
Give voice search a try to see what your smartphone and speaker assistants are bringing back as results for key search terms for your industry and local area. The search terms you use are likely being used by your potential customers, but also go beyond the obvious and do some keyword research as well as competitive analysis.
Like SEO, voice optimization is going to be a continual work in progress. As you plan out your strategy and prepare to implement ways to optimize for voice search, be prepared to analyze results. This way you can continually refine your strategy, build on what’s working and ensure you aren’t missing out on opportunities that are evident from your website analytics.