Voice search has arrived, everyone. I will discuss why you need to prepare for a voice search revolution.
The technology had gained momentum after 2010 when people started paying more attention to the new and exciting opportunity. In 2014, for example, 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults who used smartphone said they used voice search, many of them admitting it made them “feel tech-savvy.”
Well, more and more people today find the voice search to be an easy and effective way to search for information online.
In fact, according to Voice Search for Local Business Study conducted by BrightLocal, 58 percent of consumers used voice search to locate information about local businesses in 2017. Also, 27 percent of them claim to visit a website of a business after searching online using voice.
Sounds like optimizing for online search is no longer optional (and by the end of this article you’ll be convinced). If you want Google to rank your website high and bring more traffic to your website, you absolutely have to follow this trend.
Well, since there’s no avoiding it, here are 5 most important principles to optimize your website for voice search in 2018.
1. Begin on a Local Scale
As the aforementioned study by BrightLocal found, consumers tend to use voice search feature to search for online businesses; for example, 46 percent of them used it to look for a local business on a daily basis.
Why do people use voice to search for local businesses? Well, the answer is really simple: it’s easy because people use mobile devices on the go. For example, if you were in an unfamiliar area and wanted a cup of coffee, chances are you wouldn’t know where the closest coffee shop was located.
What would you do if you were used to doing voice search? You’d take your smartphone, open Google, and ask “where is the closest coffee shop?” And you’d get the results with a bunch of coffee shops in the area. Easy and simple!
But how to increase the chances that your business is in these top results by optimizing for voice search?
- Google lists your business in the results on the Maps if you registered it on Google My Business. It’s a free and easy way to ensure that your company is displayed on Google Maps, therefore, increase the chances of being featured in the local 3-pack of results. Follow Google’s guidelines on editing your business listing (this includes updating working hours, address etc. – the search engine requires all of this to list you in the top results!).
- To boost your ranking and maximize the chances of appearing in the local 3-pack of results, your business has to have a high rating given by Google users. For example, if you search for something using voice (let’s search for coffee shops in downtown Vancouver), you’ll notice that the local 3-pack only contains options with a high rating.
All of the options in the 3-pack have at least 4.2 rating.
This means that Google saves businesses with the highest rating for the local 3-pack, so having a rating of 4+ stars increases the chances of being listed there. So, encourage your businesses to leave positive reviews on Google to get to the top spot.
2. Target Long-Tail Keywords
Voice search is different from the traditional search. For example, if I wanted to find a coffee shop near me, I’d type the following request:
“Coffee shops near me”
It’s short and to the point. If I’m using Google on the go, I don’t have time to type long requests.
On the other hand, if I’m using the voice search, I’ll be using more natural language because essentially I’d be having a conversation with my smartphone. So I’d ask:
“What are the best coffee shops in my area?”
See the difference? The voice search uses more natural, conversational language.
Using long-tail keywords is a great way to optimize for this. They differ from the traditional way of searching for information because they are longer, more specific keyword phrases that use more natural language.
Here’s the comparison of short-tail and long-tail keywords for you.
|Short-Tail Keywords||Long-Tail Keywords|
|Coffee shops||Best coffee shops in Pasadena California|
|Laptops for sale||Best Asus laptops for students for sale Boston|
|Mobile friendly websites||How to make my website mobile friendly|
Pros of using long-tail keywords:
- Better quality traffic. People using these keywords are more likely to visit your site because they have specific needs that your business can meet.
- Less competition. The formula for success here is simple: the more specific your keywords are, the less competitive the market is. For example, the competition for “coffee shops” is unbelievable, so targeting them would be a bad idea, especially if you’re a small business with a limited marketing budget.
3. Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
This one is obvious: most of the voice searches are done on the go. In fact, here are the most typical situations in which people find themselves looking for something using voice, as described by Higher Visibility:
As you can see, using a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet is clearly more convenient for mobile search because it allows doing so in situations like driving, cooking, and even when showering. For you as a website owner looking to optimize for voice search, this means one thing: mobile friendliness is a must.
Begin by finding out whether the current design of your website is responsive by using Mobile-Friendliness Test from Google. If the test shows negative results, consider moving to the responsive design.
4. Write for Humans, not Google
“In addition to keywords, search engine optimization involves formatting content in a way that makes it easy for Google to show up in the top results,” explains Marcus Valentine, a content marketer at Proessaywriting. Given that the voice search is all about using natural language, you should also write your content correspondingly.
If your website has a blog, go there now and read the latest post out loud. Does it sound in a way that resembles how people talk in real life? Or maybe it’s stuffed with keywords because, well, Google likes them?
If you find the latter to be true, consider rewriting your text to make it sound how you and other people conversate. Writing for humans won’t reduce the quality of your SEO; what’s more, search voice assistants will be able to pick on the long-tail keywords in your text that you use to naturally describe something.
A popular and effective way to advance your content effort is to create separate how-to guides covering the most common questions and concerns your target audience has.
You can use Google’s “Four Moments Every Marketer Should Know” report that outlines 4 main intentions consumers have when searching online, mobile search included. It’ll give you valuable information on online shoppers’ behavior and intent when looking for products, services, and information online.
Consider this information to create an effective content strategy and come up with specific topics tailored to the needs of your audience. For example, here’s how Google uses the example of the keyword “best.”
For you, this means that the number of people searching on mobile with the word “best” has grown significantly. So, you can include this word to headlines and subheadings in your content to help Google find them.
Let’s continue with coffee shops examples and assume that you’re running one. Your blog has some interesting articles about coffee and everything related to it, but you can improve SEO further by using the word “best.” Here are some examples:
- Organic coffee shop brewing fair trade beans
- Best cup of coffee in [your city]
- How to find the best coffee beans in [your city]
- Vegan-friendly coffee shops in my area.
5. Improve Loading Time of Your Website
Speed is an important factor for voice searches. In fact, Google’s Webmaster Central Blog says that the search giant released an update that considers page speed as a ranking factor for mobile searchers. This “speed update” applies the same speed standards to all pages regardless of the technology used to develop them to improve the overall user experience.
Indeed, we’re already seeing the changes in search results brought by this update. According to a study by Backlinko, the typical loading speed of a voice search result was faster than the traditional search.
Also, they discovered that the average time to load a page completely was considerably higher in voice search results than in most pages.
The takeaway here is clear: optimize your website for speed, right now. Google recommends using its PageSpeed Insights, a tool developed specifically for websites to find out their performance on the Chrome UX Report and get personalized improvement tips.
This guide covered the basics of voice search optimization that you need to know to keep up with the ongoing change in the world of search.
Voice search is here to stay, so optimizing your website and content is something that you absolutely have to do to succeed. Follow Google’s guidelines and it’ll reward you nicely with a place in a local 3-pack or a top result.