Predicted to comprise 50% of all online searches within the next 2 years, voice search should not be ignored. It is growing for a variety of reasons, including the popularity of personal assistant devices, more natural language used in queries, people are driven to multi-task, and the simple fact that the keyboards on mobile devices are not designed for human typing.
So why not focus some of your efforts to improving your optimization, and improve your SEO strategy (revising it to reflect the new method: AEO, Answer Engine Optimization) for its use? Up-and-coming young adults and teens have grown up with voice search, which makes it an obvious focus for both B2C and B2B companies. And since local searches are gaining, even small businesses can take advantage of these tools to become masters of voice search!
What Makes Voice Search Unique
As if you needed more reasons to optimize for voice search, by optimizing your voice search strategy, here are some details to help you determine what you need to focus on:
- This is no longer a basic keyword search, but now semantic search (Query is not: best pizza Kansas City, it is: Where is the best pizza near me?") using natural language and a more conversational tone;
- Get links from local businesses, which helps to increase local traffic;
- SEO still crucial—optimize so your site DOES show up. Traditional SEO elements still help;
- Using the schema markup tool;
- Apple SIRI uses Yelp, so be sure it is up to date!
- Content must address frequently asked questions, and content needs to be personalized & relevant to your location. Build content that matches the intent of naturally spoken queries.
Voice Search Optimization Options
- Local search is an important part of voice searching, so consider the following
- Make sure you gather Google reviews. Searchers are using reviews more than ever and are likely to avoid your business if you have none.
- Verify that your business is properly listed on the web; include data which will help Google understand your location (geo-tag images & NAP—name, address, phone number). You want to be sure local searchers (and Google) fully understand where you are located and why your content is relevant!
- Your link profile anchor text needs to include your city. Try to get some links from other local businesses, this will help to generate local traffic. However, links need to be relevant.
- Really focus on content that is relevant to your locale. Your audience has a style and format of content they like, so remember who you are writing for! Provide remarkable, dense content that speaks to them.
- Use SEO strategies—use schema markup to help search engines understand what your site MEANS!
- Since Apple uses Yelp listing, be sure your Yelp listing is filled out completely
- BE consistent in your listings so Google believes your accuracy
- Make sure your content matches the intent of your audience (the words they use when searching)
- Your best practices should be designed with specific devices in mind: Alexa, Siri, Cortana, all have slight variations which should be addressed.
- Schema will help your authenticity since it not only tells search engines what your data says, but also explains what it is saying by using a special semantic vocabulary.
- A structured data testing tool allows you to preview how your content will appear in Google results.
- Your keyword strategy needs to be revised for voice search.
The natural language used by voice searches is slightly different than traditional keyword searches, which stressed density. Always remember how someone would ask the question you are answering. Tools like HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator can help you to discover what questions are often asked about a keyword you wish to use.
- Use that conversational language everywhere!
Answer the question within the first paragraph (or sentence, if possible). Use that conversational language in your titles and headings, and not just in the body of the content. Be careful NOT to stuff the keyword everywhere unnaturally, since semantic searching evens the playing field, perhaps even skewing it in favor of those who write accurately about the topic.
- Shoot for the featured snippet!
You already understand why you are looking to get your site into the coveted first position in Google’s search results. The featured snippet is even better, as you are featured above that spot. Although Google doesn’t have an official procedure for garnering that spot, here are some tips to improving your odds (be aware that some of these have already been covered above, so consider them double important):
- Your content must answer questions, since snippets are programmed for that, and voice searches are usually given in that form. Provide as much detail as possible, including lots of visuals and as minute details as possible
- Consider including sections dedicated to Q&A or FAQ
- Try some separate ways to phrase a search question (i.e., How to, Why do, How does, etc.)
- Find out what other people are Googling, and how your competition is performing
- The higher you rank, the better chance you have at getting in the featured snippet spot
Don’t feel defeated if you can’t make it in there; sometimes the snippet provides just the amount of information the searcher wants, and they won’t visit your site. If you DO make it in the “magical” spot, provide a general explanation so traffic is drawn into your site. Remember that with AEO, voice searches will likely receive only one answer (like with Alexa), so there is stiff competition to provide the most appropriate and complete answer to the searcher’s question!
Voice Search—Be Ready!
Although the strategy for voice search optimization is different, information is readily available for you to create a site which draws your audience in and provides them with the answers they are looking for. Many of the changes will benefit smaller businesses, providing you with the opportunity to succeed with great content and reducing the importance of keywords. Increasing your credibility with AEO will support and strengthen your SEO tactics; by optimizing for both search and answer, you can provide the answers people are looking for, along with all pertinent details about your company, its products and services.