How important is it to optimize your website for voice search? Voice search SEO is essential in the current climate. And it’ll only get more important with the continuing trend of voice-assistant technology tools such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa and more.
For the vast majority of businesses, your customers are using voice search to help them make buying decisions. If your products or services are being searched for via voice search now, that’s only going to increase in the future.
Did you know that 20% of Google queries are currently voice searches? This is expected to increase substantially. It’s not just teenagers on their phones, either. It’s adults and teens and they’re using voice search on their phones as well as with home assistants (such as Amazon Alexa). It’s happening at home, in the car, on the bus, in the office, in public restrooms, at the gym and more.
If you haven’t already, your business needs to be considering optimizing your website for voice searches.
There are many elements that will help you optimize for voice search SEO. First and foremost, try to think like your target customer.
Think Like a Customer When Optimizing for Voice Search
What sorts of search terms would your target customer use to find your business?
If you have a restaurant, people might search for specific types of food in a particular city or neighborhood. If you’re a plumber, potential customers may use their phone or their Amazon Echo to get help finding relief as they have their hands full cleaning up a mess. Think about what might be in their query.
- “Siri, find plumbers near me with 24/7 service.”
- “Alexa, which restaurants with surf ’n’ turf are open now?”
- “Cortana, tell me how to get to the closest supermarket.”
Is your business going to be suggested by someone’s voice search service based on the way it’s set up today? Have you checked?
You’ll want to do a number of things to maximize the chances of that happening. If it’s already happening, you’ll want to make the most of it for maximum conversion rates.
Local SEO Helps!
- Have you claimed your business listing and red balloon with Google?
- Are you on business directories for your area?
- Have you claimed your business on Yelp and ensured your hours, phone number and other important information is up to date?
Have a Mobile-Friendly Site
Is your website easy to view on smartphones? If it isn’t, voice search optimization is fruitless until that changes. Think about the people using small screens to try to glean information about you. A mobile-friendly website that looks good and is easy to navigate is essential.
Speed Up and Clean Up Your Site
People using mobile devices for voice search tend to be looking for information quickly, hence using their microphone instead of typing out searches. Speed is important. Bounce rates are typically higher on mobile sites than for desktop users, illustrating that mobile users have a finite amount of patience. You want to optimize your website for speed so that it loads quickly.
Is your site well-optimized, free of broken links and do you leverage all your meta data?
Good navigation, relevant meta data, website authority and the on-page content all contribute to helping search engines see that your site has a realistic answer to a voice searcher’s question.
Getting Your Site Up to Par
Gather information to see what sorts of voice search terms are bringing traffic to your website now.
As you do a dive into your web analytics, you’ll also want to look at your bounce rate so that you can optimize your content and user experience, reducing bounces.
Assessing search terms and traffic patterns will help you assess and improve web content and user experience for existing searches to improve click-through rates.
You’ll also want to do extensive keyword research to plan for further optimization.
Site maps, loading speed and overall website authority are all factors in how much traffic you’ll be sent.
Optimizing your Site for AI
Optimizing for mobile and for voice search will make it easier for not just the people who land on your page but also for the artificial intelligence (AI) services people are using. Voice search- and mobile-friendly websites will be easy to navigate, have scannable content for people who are skimming on a mobile device and will have clear and concise answers for devices and AI voices that read answers aloud to the searcher.
Think about the user experience, including factors such as the ability to touch your phone number so that your device automatically makes a call, linking to an online reservation or booking service as well as offering the ability to engage the mapping tools for those who want to visit your location.
Note: There’s also the fact that many AI services read answers to people and people don’t actually have screens associated to see the answer.
Planning Your Voice Search Optimization Content Strategy
Your site should provide concise answers to the questions being asked by the searcher. There are many ways to do this, including:
A FAQ section with very specific questions and answers. Leverage popular search terms used in questions and answers the way you would an SEO article (designed to attract search engines with long-tail and geographical keywords).
Adding a business blog to your website is a great way to continually feed search engines the “food” they want. Blog posts can address specific questions and answers and be done in a way that attract search engine results for desktop, mobile and voice-based searchers.
Produce Great Content, Often
Make sure you often update your site with fresh, relevant keyword-rich content. The more frequently you update with voice searchers in mind, the more chances you’ll have of being indexed by search engines as well as found by those searching for whatever it is that you’re selling.
It’s also helpful to leverage marked-up headings, categories, tags, good descriptive permalink structure, alt image tags and other SEO best practices in that content to assist with not only your voice search SEO but also your overall online marketing strategy.
Consider Voice Speakers/Assistants
As you craft content for your site, remember this: Not only will people use voice search to get to your site and hopefully grab the information they need quickly from their mobile phone, but there are also voice assistants to consider where a screen won’t ever be used. More than ever, people use voice assistants to glean information without ever looking at a screen.
Give voice search a try to see what your smartphone and/or speaker assistants are bringing back as results for key search terms for your industry and your geographical area. Your own natural inclinations are going to be helpful. The search terms you think of related to your product or service are likely being used. But, go beyond the obvious. Do some keyword research as well as competitive analysis.
Look at the sites that are either outranking you or that are hot on your heels and attempting to dethrone you if you’re getting first-page search engine results and abundant voice-based queries.
All in all, like SEO, voice optimization is going to be a work in progress. As you plan out your strategy and prepare to implement ways to optimize for voice search, be prepared to analyze results so that you can continually refine your strategy, capitalizing on what’s working and ensuring you aren’t missing out on opportunities that are evident in your website analytics.
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