In a world of rapid technological development and evolving search habits, tailoring content for voice search SEO has become an absolute must. Without it, any business or SEO company will be missing out on a significant source of clicks!
Since the release of Apple’s Siri in 2011, voice search has grown from a novelty feature to a highly popular tool for the online search. Studies show that 65% of users aged 25-49 speak to their voice-enabled device at least once a day, while it’s forecasted that 55% of households will own smart speaker devices by 2022.
With Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana already accompanying Siri in this increasingly crowded marketplace, it’s clear that voice search is changing SEO.
With that in mind, here’s our simple guide on how to optimize content for voice search.
‘Ok Google, how do I write content for voice search?’
No need to use Google voice search for this one, because we have the answers right here!
The first thing to consider is user intent. As with traditional SEO, you need to get in the head of a searcher if you’re going to produce content that satisfies their needs.
Most commonly, the intent of a voice searcher will be clearer than someone using a traditional typed search. Consider it from this angle: with a typed search for ‘SEO’, it’s unclear whether an individual is interested in pursuing a career in marketing, finding a digital marketing agency to partner with, or seeking advice on content writing.
On the flip side, a voice search will be longer and more detailed, such as ‘how do I begin a career in SEO?’ or ‘how do I use SEO on my website?’. Like these examples, most voice searches will also typically be question-based and conversational in tone, which leads us into the second point on our voice search SEO checklist.
Users of voice search expect quick and convenient answers to questions.
Let’s revisit our earlier examples. Consider the difference between a search phrase such as ‘voice search SEO’ and something like ‘what’s the best way to optimize my content for voice search?’
While we wouldn’t type out the latter query on a search engine — it’s too long and takes too much time — it’s exactly the kind of query we’d ask our voice assistant.
Talking is faster than typing, which means that long-tail keywords are more prominent in voice searches. In these circumstances, users tend to have a specific idea of what they’re looking for.
AnswerThePublic is an excellent online tool for identifying long-tail questions to target. It will help you determine how frequently terms like ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ appear alongside a given key phrase, allowing you to embed these into your content.
One way to naturally target voice search is to create a FAQs page on your website. Because this will be structured entirely around specific longer tail questions, it will generate content that is primed for voice search SEO.
Another strategy is to produce content that’s optimized to appear in featured snippets.
To recap, featured snippets are a type of result that appears at the top of Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages!). Their role is to provide quick, easy, and authoritative answers to commonly asked questions.
Instead of reading a whole page of results to a user, a voice assistant will select what it considers to be the most relevant and appropriate result. Often, this will be the result that appears in the featured snippet. This means that optimizing content for featured snippets is also a brilliant way to target voice search.
While typed searches are often more robotic, with words like ‘how’, ‘the’, and ‘of’ omitted for the sake of convenience and efficiency, voice search encourages us to search as we speak.
This makes it incredibly important to use natural language for voice search SEO. Once again, long-tail keywords are king. Because these are more conversational phrases that closely correspond with our everyday speech patterns, using them will ensure that your content mirrors the language and sentence structures that form a voice search.
Search algorithms are more sophisticated than they used to be. Nowadays, they can generate relevant results even when a keyword isn’t an exact match.
It’s long been the case that SEOs should write for humans rather than robots, but with the advent of voice search, this mantra has never been truer.
Given that a significant portion of voice searches are location-based queries, local search and voice search go hand in hand.
Whether a user is directly stating their location (‘what are the best restaurants in London?’) or using phrases like ‘near me’ and ‘in my area’ (‘where are ATMs near me?’), your business needs to be visible to nearby searchers.
The first step is to claim your business listing through Google My Business. Google takes local listings into account when generating voice search results, so including your name, address, and phone number (and ensuring these are consistent across your online channels) will connect you to searchers in your area.
The more information you’re able to provide, the more likely your result will be read out by a voice assistant. Including things like photos and opening hours will create a comprehensive record.
Aside from this, creating local landing pages can highlight the relevance of your business to users in specific areas, while on-page SEO is as important as ever. As well as using ‘near me’ or ‘in my area’ naturally in content and metadata, work on identifying popular local keywords (such as neighborhood names or landmarks) to embed into the content.
The final point on our voice search SEO checklist is perhaps the most obvious: mobile-friendly content. Since the vast majority of voice searches are conducted using smartphones, optimizing for mobile is essential for targeting voice search.
Try to write shorter, digestible paragraphs of two to three sentences. Using bullet points and clear headings to organize content are other ways to ensure readability and positive user experience.
These things are especially true with the rise of Google’s Mobile-First Index, which has increased in prominence over recent years. Now, the search engine treats mobile pages as the main versions of websites. Simply put, if you don’t have a mobile site or your site’s mobile version isn’t fully functional, your site will be less likely to read out as a voice search result.
Keeping your site mobile-friendly will help it work towards being voice search-friendly too: it really is that simple.
The world of SEO is multifaceted and constantly changing. But, when it comes to voice search, one thing is clear. Regardless of whether searchers are at home using a voice assistant or on the move using their phone, they’ll always demand quick and informative results.
By taking time to consider user intent and adapt their content writing strategies accordingly, digital marketers can optimize for voice search SEO and remain ahead of the curve.