With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, voice search has become one of the leading ways to search for information on the web. If you’re unfamiliar, voice search allows you to search for things like stock quotes and sports scores, or perform basic searches like “local restaurants near me” by saying them rather than typing them in.
The concept gave rise to some of our favorite technology like Siri, Google Home, Alexa, and Cortana. And with the popularity of these devices on the rise, voice search is expected to increase drastically. In fact,comScore predicts that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches. That’s not hard to believe considering there are 33 million voice-first devices in ownership today. On top of that, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai announced in a keynote that 20 percent of search queries are voice queries.
As you can imagine, these statistics affect how information and businesses are discovered. That’s why it’s important for online and local businesses to learn how to tailor their content for voice search results. When doing this, there are three important things to keep in mind:
- Syntax is important when creating your website and content: Smart devices like Alexa and Google Home respond best with natural speech. So try to avoid jamming keywords into your website hoping Google Home will rank your content higher.
- Content on your website needs to be keyword optimized: The featured snippet on Google Search is what is read to you by your smart device after a particular query. For instance, when searching “who is the COO of Facebook”, this featured snippet came up:
Usually, the featured snippet is drawn from the page that ranks first on Google. In this case, it’s Wikipedia. Notice how the query is how the question would be asked if I was saying it vocally. This is in contrast to how I would type it into Google Search on my phone or computer. If I was typing it, I would probably enter something like “Facebook COO”. When I do that, here’s what comes up:
In this case, Wikipedia is still the first result but there is no featured snippet for this query because the entry wasn’t posed as a question.
This shows that optimizing your content for voice search requires you to optimize your content for questions.
To optimize your content for questions, start with a tool called Answer The Public. The website allows you to search for a keyword and then it will provide you with the most-search questions relating to that keyword. When searching for ‘web design’ I was presented with these results.
Within these results, I’d want to focus on questions regarding Who, What, How, When and Where, as those words signal a degree of intent.
Users who are asking ‘Where’ within their query are the readiest to buy.
To create content optimized for these types of searches, consider creating a page for each of your Frequently Asked Questions. If “Why should I hire a web designer?” is a question you are frequently asked, then you could create a page dedicated to answering that question. If you optimize the keywords within the post correctly, you could potentially rank higher and get a featured snippet.
3. Correct your Google My Business and Yelp information: Currently, voice searches looking for a local business will yield information from Google Maps. According to a study by Google, 50% of users who conducted local searches on their phone visited a store within a day. This means it’s crucial to have an updated address on Google My Business and Yelp. Alexa and Siri both return Yelp results first. If you have more than one location, you should add them to Google My Business. Just make sure there is actually a team present at that location.
And while keeping your address up-to-date is an important step, you also should have an updated phone number, website, and hours of operation listed. All of the information requested on Google My Business and Yelp can be searched with voice.
We’re still a ways away from voice search becoming a completely seamless experience for users, but it’s important to get a jump on optimizing your content if you want to beat out the competition.