Show of hands: How many of you reading this sentence either have a connected device (Alexa, Google Home, etc.) in your home and/or use the voice search function on your phone on a regular basis?
I’m guessing at least half of you raised your virtual hands just now, and that number will continue to grow throughout 2018 as connected devices become more and more popular, and we all get more and more comfortable with voice search on our mobile devices.
In fact, according to BrightLocal, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. ALL searches will be half voice! That’s a huge number, people – not one that should be ignored. Voice search is coming. It’s time to prepare!
Content Optimization Guide for Voice Search
Alright, let’s dive in. There are multiple things you can do to make sure your content is ready for voice search.
Answer a Question
People use voice search to ask questions. So, to show up in voice search results, your content needs to answer a question!
This is something you’ve probably heard already in terms of content strategy, since searchers are also tending to type in longer queries in the form of a question, rather than simple keyword phrases. WordStream reported in 2016 that 50% of all search queries are 4 words or longer, and that number has surely increased since then.
So, it’s only natural that, as typed queries become longer and more in the form of a question, voice search rises into that same space.
To be seen (and heard) in voice search, make sure you’re writing content that answers a question. What are people in your industry wondering about? What do they need to know that you can tell them? What are you an expert on?
Use Headings and Lists to Make Your Content Scannable
Voice search isn’t a desktop thing; it’s a mobile thing. So, optimizing your content for voice search is very closely tied to optimizing your content for mobile!
When people are on their mobile devices, they’re probably not looking for long-winded answers to life’s most intriguing questions. They’re out and about or only have a minute, and they’re looking for a quick answer. If they click on your site and aren’t able to quickly parse the information or find a direct answer, they’re probably going to leave.
Be careful: This doesn’t mean that every piece of content on your site should be short. It’s been shown that long-form content (longer than 3,000 words) gets shared much more often than the short ones. So, cultivate a site full of content meant for each your audiences. If you think a longer piece of content is important and may be searched for on mobile, make sure you answer the searcher’s question in the first paragraph of content, and explain what that person will get if they keep reading.
Local Business? Optimize Your Listings
A large piece of voice search is people looking for something nearby. Maybe they’re in a car, in a part of the city they don’t know, and they’re hungry. So, they hit the microphone button and say “restaurants near me”. If you’re a restaurant in the area, you need to show up here! Optimize any and all local listings, but especially your Google My Business one. Update your listing with posts and pictures as often as you can.
Work on Reaching Position Zero
When you ask your connected device or mobile phone a direct question, such as “when do tulips bloom?”, it will read to you the answer that comes up in the featured snippet (Position Zero) for that search query. There are a couple things you should focus on to shoot for being in the featured snippet. Instead of going into all of that here, check out our blog post on featured snippets.
Need help optimizing your website and content for voice search? Let’s chat.