SEO for Voice Search | 5 Valuable Tips to Optimize Voice Search in 2020

What is Voice Search? Why is it Important?

Voice search is a technology that allows you to say a voice command to access information on Google and other search engines. Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft created voice technologies and aliases like Siri and Alexa to be your sidekick that helps you find information on the web. But, how do these companies decide which information best answers the questions you ask?

Ever since the Hummingbird update, Google focuses on ranking relevant content to each search with more intensity. What does this have to do with voice search? When your audience asks a question, the leading article most relevant to the question they asked will be sent to them.  

Voice search is essential because as more voice technologies develop, consumers will use them more frequently. Google will react accordingly. First, we saw the switch to mobile-first indexing. When will we see voice-first indexing?

Tip #1: Obtaining the Featured Snippet

Featured snippets are one of the most sought after spots on Google search engine results pages (SERPs). Why is that?

Not only do featured snippets hold position 0, but they tend to answer the question or search query in the best way (in Google’s eyes). The average voice search query is about 29 words long. To receive the envied featured snippet and be favored in the voice search, answer the question your audience is asking, include essential details, but keep it brief. 

Start by answering their question and implement it above the fold on the web page you are aiming to rank, preferably in the first paragraph. For example, let’s look at the question: “What is the best recipe for apple pie?” When you look at the voice search results, you see that an apple pie recipe from Taste of Home pops up as the first result. 

When you dive into the same search from a desktop, the same recipe holds the featured snippet at position 0.

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On the web page Google links to, the ingredients are placed above the fold and are structured so Google can easily retrieve essential information for the featured snippet. Therefore, it wins the number one position on voice search and the featured snippet for desktop and mobile. Overall, this helps increase traffic to your page. Sounds good, yeah?  You can learn more about optimal featured snippet lengths here.

Tip #2: Become Mobile Friendly + Improve Site Speed

As previously discussed, Google spent the past two years indexing websites to be mobile-first optimized. What does this mean? Your website is indexed based on its mobile version (or how it appears in a mobile view). Why is this important? Mobile-friendly devices and voice assistants are where the majority of voice searches are performed, and therefore, where the majority of your optimization efforts should be placed.

Google recognizes whether or not a website is mobile-friendly and will rank you based on this factor. So, how can you decipher if your website is optimized for mobile? Simple. 

Google Search Console has a mobile-friendly test that recognizes if your website is good to go or if there is room for improvement and how to do so. For example, you could have Javascript issues that slow down your user experience or page loading issues that may render the website as “not mobile-friendly”. In this case, Google Search Console will provide the problem and its location (in the form of a URL of Javascript file).

It’s essential to remember that site speed goes hand-in-hand with your optimized mobile experience. Let’s add a real-life scenario as an example. You are on the go and battling life’s busy tasks and schedules. You perform a search on your mobile device, and the web page is taking too long to load. Do you wait for that page or do you or do you click on the second-best option?

By increasing your site’s speed, you create a quality user experience and show your audience that you value their time. Additionally, this signals Google that your web page is user-friendly. This, in turn, has the potential to boost your rankings and increase your web page’s chances to obtain the coveted featured snippet. To learn more about how to increase your user’s experience on your website, visit Marketo.

Tip #3: Create Conversational Content

When someone utilizes voice search, they tend to say more conversational keywords compared to desktop. Think about it; you don’t speak the same as you communicate online! For example, when you look for the “best B2B website designs” on desktop, you will type just that. When using voice search, you tend to use more conversational language such as “What are the best B2B website designs?” These searches generate diverse results.  

Most voice searches are long-tail keywords, and therefore contain more specifics to what people are searching. By creating conversational content targeting these keywords, you have a better chance of reaching targeted customers and generating the right traffic to your site.

Tip #4: Focus on Local Searches

According to SEO Expert Brad, in the past year, 58% of users have used voice search to find a local business. Even further, by 2020, 50% of Google searches will be completed through voice search. This upward trend shows that local businesses will benefit immensely from voice search. Optimize your website for popular local searches to get a leg up on your competitors.

Tip #5: Long-Tail Keyword Research

As discussed, when focusing on voice search, long-tail keywords are your best bet to gain market share of the featured snippet and show up in Google’s prime time spots.

Long-tail keywords acquire less competition and have lower search volume. These are more distinct searches and have shown to be question-based queries. For example, this means fewer pages target these specific keywords, and fewer people search for them. There are several ways to discover long-tail keywords and what your audience cares about. However, the quickest way to find the questions your audience is asking is by utilizing the tool, Answer the Public.

Answer the Public takes a topic of interest and generates a list of questions related to that topic. Once you pull your list of questions, you can plug them into keyword research tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs. These tools will help you generate search volume, keyword difficulty, and other ranking metrics.

As mentioned, long-tail keywords typically possess conversational or educational intent. Once you generate a large volume of long-tail keywords, you can better strategize and create content that ranks higher and meets your audience right where they are. Depending on what you or your business do, the kind of content you create may vary. The best advice I can give to someone who may be unsure of what type of content to create is: use Google.

Google is a free keyword research tool in itself. You can see what people are talking about, how they talk about it, and why it is important to them. By auditing what Google is placing importance on as relevant content, you can determine what kind works best for you.

Impact of Voice Search

Moving forward, voice search dramatically impacts the future of SEO and digital marketing as a whole. As artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms become even more accurate and advanced, the ability for voice search to upgrade the marketing space will continue to increase. 

As technology advances, Siri and Alexa’s responses will become more contextual and employ deeper reasoning. This will change the landscape of voice search because Google will react by altering its algorithm and SEO tactics, such as keyword targeting and on-page optimizations. 

As the quantity of available voice technology expands, the world of digital marketing as we know it will be a story of the past.

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