"Ok Google, how do I optimise my content for voice search"
For the very small minority of you who may not have heard of voice search, voice search allows you to use speech to search the internet instead of typing - and over recent years, its use has exploded. A reported 41% of adults and 55% of teens say they use voice search on a daily basis.
But why is voice search so popular? And why are SEOs and digital marketers all over it?
The voice search revolution
As we already said, devices with a voice search feature are on the rise. Almost all smartphones now come with a ‘Hey Siri’ or ‘Ok Google’ option to search the web, and 20% of all mobile queries are now carried out by voice commands.
Alongside this, there has been an explosion of voice-activated home devices, like Alexa and Google Home.
But why are we using our voice instead?
At the heart of all technology is convenience - things tend to stick around if they make life easier for the user. The rise in voice search can be simply explained: it allows users to get the information they want faster and with less effort.
People normally speak at a rate of 150 words per minute on average, while the average person types only 40 words per minute. Looking for information via voice command is simply quicker than typing it.
Voice search is also handsfree, making them even more convenient for users who are driving or struggle with small and fiddly keyboards.
Voice search is commonly used in several different ways, for example:
- Navigation and location questions - “how do I get to the M61” or “is there a gym near me”
- General question and answer purposes - “how high is Mount Everest”
- Playlist management - “play my ‘feel-good’ playlist”
- Calls and messages - “text Mum: how are you” or “call Dad”
But why does voice search matter for SEO?
Voice search is a different way of searching the web. It involves different behaviours and means that content optimised solely for a traditional text search will not perform as well in a voice search.
Optimising your content for voice search - our top tips
Target question phrases and long-tail keywords within your content
When people speak, they use very different language to when they type. Searches become more conversational - for example, if you wanted to find out the weather and you were typing it into a search engine, you’d likely type “Leeds weather”. If you were doing a voice search, it’s more likely you’d say something like “what is the weather going to be like in Leeds tomorrow?” .
There is a serious difference in not only the length, but the language of these searches - so targeting questions and long-tail keywords is key to tapping into voice search queries and improving voice search SEO (long-tail keywords are good practice for traditional SEO too, so it will be a great way to also boost your SEO).
Respond directly to the query
You need to include direct answers to the user’s query to increase your chances of getting a featured snippets. Remember that Google tends to answer search queries in around 30 words, therefore the response needs to be direct, short and sweet.
A good way to include these direct responses in your content is to include an FAQ page. These are perfect to optimise for voice search, simply include the question phrase in the answer to improve results.
Get in the featured snippets and increase your domain authority
Featured snippets are a different way of presenting results in traditional SERPs and come before the first organic position (this is why it’s also known as ‘Position Zero’).
Around 40% of all voice search answers come from featured snippets, and 80% of all Google Home results also come from featured snippets. This is because featured snippets provide easy to read and authoritative answers.
Some research has also shown that featured snippets provide a higher CTR as well, a win-win for your content!
On top of this, if you want your content to be chosen for the answer to a voice search you need to ensure you have a good domain authority. As a voice answer tends to only get one result as a response, the search engine needs to make sure it’s coming from a trusted source.
Finally, Google recently launched Media Actions (for music and videos) that enables users to discover your media content via traditional Google search and Google Assistant and start playback of the content directly on the app of the platform of the brand.
Why a voice search strategy?
As voice technology continues to grow and become more popular among consumers, it will become increasingly important for businesses of all shapes and sizes to include a voice search strategy in their overall digital marketing plan.
Building a voice strategy in your SEO can increase your content visibility significantly as voice search results narrow results to only the top pages - making sure you are optimised ahead of the curve will increase your chances of getting traffic from voice search.
It’s not all about SEO however - optimising for voice search can create a better user experience by forming a unique and optimised customer experience that can help build brand loyalty.
Although voice search might not be the norm just yet, it's surely on its way there. It provides brands with a perfect platform to present their content and build a relationship with their customers. Besides, its growing use should be good reason enough to prepare and optimise!