Online searching has changed dramatically in recent years, and Google Voice Search is the latest novelty in search tools. In fact, ComScore projects that, by 2020, 50% of all searches will be by voice. With so many people looking for answers by voice, saving their hands for driving, writing, cooking, eating, or anything other than typing, it is important to stay on top of this growing search method by optimizing your site for its use.
Here is an easy guide to help you preparing your online business for voice search capability:
Optimize Local Listings
â€‹Set up Google Business, providing as much detail about your specific business as possible, including: location, contact info, website, any details about the product/service you offer. Searching for local businesses, like restaurants, shops, and gas stations, is one of the most common uses of voice searches, and since many searchers will say “…near me”, having the map information is key to the best use of the technology.
Target Long-Tail Keywords AND Conversational Phrases.
While long tail keywords closely match natural language, there has been a shift to conversational phrases (often more than five words). Voice search is not used the same as typed searches—focusing on less grammatically-correct, faster search parameters. With natural language spoken questions, it is now not the keywords often used in more traditional ranking, but the context of the request. Test it yourself; what would you say? Knowing phrases commonly used by your buyers will help you optimize.
Create Q&A Style Content, Even in Blogs
Since most voice searching is done locally, make sure to use local terms and descriptions. This will provide more opportunities for natural language. Don’t forget to use “trigger words,” the top 25 words used in searches, in your snippets (the top words are How, What, and Best). Brainstorm how people would ask questions about your products or services with your customer support team (which answers questions all the time); this helps direct visitors directly to the answer they are looking for. Additionally, synonyms are helpful, so you can cover all the variations which could arise with different consumers.
Make it Easy for Googlebot to Crawl your Site
Submit a sitemap to Google. Include answers to typical voice search questions like address, phone, hours, prices, directions. Create pages for each topic, to increase the opportunities that you provide “the answer” searchers are looking for. Be sure to include the phrase you are optimizing for in the first paragraph (or even the first sentence) of your webpage. You may even try to get listed in Google’s “Answer Box” for your targeted keywords. Although this is a truly coveted position, you can at least optimize your site for it by providing as complete information about the answer being sought after as well as value-added information and as much detail about your company as you can muster. Consider providing information people may be searching for related to your industry, something they may need to know (i.e., the number of schools in a community where they are shopping for a house—and you are a realtor). Even if you can’t manage to get in the Answer Box, you may be pretty close!
Concentrate on Mobile
This is where people use voice search--when they are not setting at a desk or table with a desktop or laptop device. Because so much energy is focused on mobility, if you are not optimized for mobile, your page rankings can suffer, since bounce rates are higher on mobile. In fact, by simply optimizing for mobile, you are taking advantage your competitors whose sites aren’t mobile-friendly! Consider how mobile users are feeling when they begin a voice search; they are in a hurry and want their search to provide the EXACT answer they need in the size they can view on their phone. Google provides a mobile-friendly test for optimization (need to be able to read the BRIEF content easily and use their fingers—and thumbs—to navigate), and PageSpeed Insights (analyzing your web page and making suggestions for improvement) to help you speed up your site.
Monitor Desktop v. Mobile Performance
The analytics are there, so use them wisely. If something needs tweaking, the reports will show what the issue is. Google Analytics Intelligence has been designed to give you a better understanding of your Google Analytics data to maximize the use of Voice Search.