The concept of speaking into a device and getting an answer back isn’t new. What is new is the way the technology behind Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant has improved to make artificial intelligence a lot more practical and a lot less comical due to odd misinterpretations of the questions asked. Right now, about 20 percent of online queries are voice searches, according to Google. Some people predict that by the year 2020, roughly half of all searches will be done with either speech or images. It’s safe to assume this voice search trend isn’t going away. Read on to discover how you can effectively optimize your online content for voice search.
Get Conversational with Your Keywords
People often don’t type the way they speak. Because voice search phrases are more conversational in nature, keywords used are often longer and related to each other. In fact, text searches are about one to three words while speech searches average about three to 10 words.
About 22 percent of voice searches are done to look for a local business. And a lot of those searches use phrases like “near me” and “close by” or reference specific neighborhoods and landmarks. Increase your odds of showing up on results pages produced from a voice search by:
- Including geographic references in keyword phrases (including local references to neighborhoods and landmarks)
- Using long-tail keywords (groups of related keywords) rather than single keywords
- Testing various groups of conversational and related keywords to see what performs best for your business
Expand the Q&A Concept Beyond Your FAQ Page
Most voice searches are in the form of a question. Draw more attention to your content by expanding the Q&A concept beyond your FAQ page. You can do this with headlines or subheads presented as questions, or by asking and answering questions naturally throughout your content. Q&A is especially effective for blogs and social media posts.
Claim Your Business My Business Listing
If you haven’t done so yet, claim your Google My Business listing. You’ll also get access to Google Maps, which makes it easier for local voice searchers to find you. Google also uses your My Business info to present results when someone does a “near me” search based on their geographic location, even if the searcher doesn’t say the specific name of a town, city, or neighborhood. Submitting your business info to local directories can also increase your presence in voice search listings.
Submit a Sitemap to Google
Google uses sitemaps (listing of website pages accessible to crawlers) to make an attempt to place your content in front of the right searchers. Submit a basic sitemap to Google that includes information people are likely to ask about when performing a voice search, such as your business NAP (name, address, phone number) info, store hours, and even directions from main highways or roadways to your business.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
If a voice searcher taps on a link to your site, they’re likely to bounce and see what your competitors have to offer if it’s difficult to navigate through your website on a mobile device. With Google’s mobile-first approach to ranking sites, it’s a step that can help your digital marketing efforts in many ways. Make your website more appealing to mobile voice searchers by taking the following steps:
- Adopting a responsive website design that adjusts to whatever screen is being used at the moment
- Paying attention to page load times (anything more than 5 seconds is considered slow)
- Making your phone number an active call link so voice searchers can click and call you instantly
- Avoiding the excessive use of images and video (such content takes longer to load on mobile devices)
- Presenting content that’s easy to digest (short paragraphs, descriptive subheads, bullets)
Additional descriptions of your content in title tags and meta descriptions make it easier for Google to direct local voice searchers to your business info. Since the majority of voice searches are done with mobile devices and have local intent, get geo-specific with your voice SEO efforts. Finally, track your stats to see if you are getting more traffic, leads, and conversions from voice searches — or if voice search even makes sense for you based on how people prefer to interact with your business.