Voice search technology allows people to search for things online using voice prompts. They can ask questions to their phones, watches, and even devices like Amazon Echos and Google Nests, and expect accurate answers to their questions and information that meets their needs.
Voice search was initially introduced by Google in 2011, but as artificial intelligence (AI) and technology evolved, it’s become more popular in recent years:
- 32% of consumers are interested in hands-free technology
- 55% of users use voice search to ask questions on a smartphone
- Nearly 40% of U.S. internet users operate a voice assistant at least once per month
- In 2020, there were nearly 88 million smart speaker device units in U.S. homes
As voice search continues to evolve from recognition to understanding, helping to assist users with their daily life on-the-go, there are some adjustments marketers and businesses should make to keep up with the trend. One great way to do this is to ensure your website is optimized for voice search, which can be done with the help of a digital marketing service.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search makes getting information and answers fast and easy. Instead of typing a question or query into a phone, device, or search engine, users simply ask the question using the device’s AI technology. For example, “Hey Siri, what’s the weather today?”
AI helps voice search become capable of interpreting and responding to:
- Questions: Simply ask a question, and the AI will help find an answer. If it can’t find an answer immediately, you can help narrow down the search through additional context.
- Spelling: Using the context of the search, it can understand what you’re asking for even if it’s a word with multiple meanings or spellings.
- What’s previously been said/searched for: It retains questions or information you’ve previously asked or searched for and tailors content to that information.
- Context based on location: The device knows how to provide answers to “near me” queries using location settings and functionality.
- App-based context: If you’re using a mobile app and need additional information about the product, business, or app, you can search using a general question, and it will understand what you want to see based on context.
- Context of what you see on-screen: If you’re currently looking at search results, ask a follow-up question related to what you have on-screen and it will provide related information.
- Context about you: Users can use words like “my” and it will know what you’re referring to, especially when it comes to local search.
7 Ways to Optimize a Website for Voice Search
Optimizing a website for voice search is very similar to optimizing for search (SEO) but with additional focus to further assist the AI technology. Ways you can optimize your website for voice search include:
- Using long-tail keyword phrases
- Transforming queries into questions
- Optimizing content
- Designing for mobile
- Optimizing for snippets
- Providing context with schema markup
- Prioritizing local
Use Long-Tail Keyword Phrases
Long-tail keyword phrases are phrases that are more specific, targeted, and usually longer (3 or more words) than commonly used phrases. “Shoes” is a short-tail search query; “Where to buy hiking shoes in Baltimore” is a long-tail keyword phrase. While these long-tail phrases typically get less search traffic, they also have a higher conversion value because they are more specific to what the user is searching for.
Using long-tail keyword phrases on your website allows the site to provide search engines with more specific information, which is critical to ensuring it shows up when someone searches for something. It can also help your website be the answer the user hears when making a voice search.
Transform Queries into Questions
When using voice search, a person will likely ask a question instead of using a string of simple keywords. Therefore, you should use questions in your content and queries to make it more likely your site will be the answer read out loud.
When creating content for your website, consider inserting these types of questions into articles, developing FAQ sections, and optimizing other text, as content containing and answering questions will likely appear first.
As you develop content for your website or optimize what already exists, focus on making it more usable for voice searchers. Some of the best tips include:
- Avoid using too many keywords, as this can actually deprioritize your content in search engines.
- Write in a conversational, easy-to-understand tone.
- Your content should be compelling, have detailed answers to common questions, and solve customer problems and pain points. Focus on providing concise answers, but elaborate on details throughout the copy.
- Build content around answering the questions who/what/where/when/why/how, as this is how voice searchers usually begin their queries. Including an FAQ section or formatting headers as questions can help.
Design for Mobile
If it’s not already, optimize your website for mobile. This is important for a number of reasons, including assisting voice search technology. Mobile devices allow users to perform queries on-the-go, so your pages should be designed to be accessed via these devices. It also helps to ensure all of the content is on the page and can be searched and read.
Optimize for Snippets
Google Snippets appear under the search bar and highlight a quick summary of information pulled from a relevant website. Optimizing your content for specific queries can help cater to these snippet boxes. When users read the snippet box, your content will answer the voice search question.
Provide Context with Schema Markup
Schema can be used to mark up your content and tell search engines what your site or article is about. They are essential words or tags, or metadata, that you can add to your HTML. This improves the way the search engine reads your site. HTML add-ons can help search engines better understand the context of your content, helping you to rank higher in searches.
With mobile devices, users can search on-the-go and ask hyper-local questions while they are out. Particularly with voice search, they may ask “near me” type questions, so if/when applicable, include information like directions, sitemaps, and location information. Producing locally relevant content that caters to the needs of your customers can significantly improve your SEO for voice search.
If you’re optimizing your website for SEO, you’re doing the right things to support voice search technology. By focusing on the details and tailoring your content to answering questions, solving customer pain points, and supporting long-tail keywords, your website will likely appear higher on search engines, increasing the likelihood it will be picked up by Google Snippets and read in response to the voice search.
Additionally, focus on some technical aspects like designing for mobile and using HTML add-ons. The more optimized for SEO your website is, the more likely it will also be optimized for voice search opportunities.
If you are interested in optimizing your website for voice search, contact Dragonfly Digital Marketing today. We can help connect you with your target audience and improve your search engine rankings. Request a free consultation or call (800) 636-0347.