‘Hey Siri (or Alexa, Google, Cortana, etc.) can you tell me what the weather will be like today?’
I still find it quite funny to talk to my phone when I need something but I find myself using voice search more and more. Statistics back that up – according to Comscore 40% of adults now use voice search once per day and 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.
New voice devices and technology make it easier for people to simply ask a question and get information from their devices. This allows for a more natural way to interact with machines using a conversational voice.
Voice search is also typically mobile and often locally focused. Voice-based queries are different from written searches as they are generally made up of longer phrases, including complete sentences and questions. With this in mind the optimisation for voice searches is slightly different compared to traditional search.
Voice search doesn’t mean that you need to change your overall SEO strategy or content on your site, but it requires some small changes that can help make you more successful in the voice search world.
Local SEO is more popular than ever with voice search (more than 40% of voice searches are local), with customers more frequently using searches like ‘near me’.
People use voice search to get information about local businesses they want to go to. For example, ‘Where is the best pizza near me?’ When people are using local searches like ‘near me’, the device will look at where the user is physically located when they perform the search. To pull up the most relevant listings, search engines are going to look for information on, for example, Google My Business.
Make sure that your business is listed on Google My Business and your NAP (business name, address and phone number) information is accurate. You should also optimize it for information like category, business hours, directions, etc. Work towards updating your local listings too.
Read more on how to optimise Google My Business
When it comes to content creation, following your you should put users first by creating content that’s valuable and addresses any questions or concerns they might have – providing them with the best possible answers for their voice questions.
It might be done in the form of a blog section or Q&A style. That way you can optimise your site for natural language and use words and phrases that people actually speak. With content optimisation you should focus on long-tail conversational keywords.
The key difference between voice search and standard search is the use of more natural, conversational language, so long-tail keywords are really important.
The first step towards optimizing your site for voice search should be to identify these long-tail queries: brainstorm internally what kind of natural language questions might bring people to your site, use keyword tools to identify long-tail keywords, ask customer service/sales teams for frequently asked questions from customers, check Google Search Console for actual queries people used to get to your site, etc.
Focus your strategy on keywords that people would use in a natural conversation.
Structure data markup makes it easier for search engines to accurately analyse your content and understand it better. Structured data markup is a great way to optimise your site and content for voice searches.
Check structure data markup helper to see the different kinds of content you can markup.
As almost all voice searches are done through mobile devices, you need to make sure that your website is fully optimised for mobile devices and user friendly. Work on elements like mobile friendly design, load speed, content optimisation (e.g. use shorter paragraphs), etc.
The essential part of voice search is taking the user-friendly approach to content and website design. Our overall SEO strategy doesn’t have to be much different to optimise for voice searches. As the voice search is a growing trend, you will benefit from few SEO optimisation tips/techniques mentioned above to capture these searches.
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