Do you have – or are you thinking of getting – a smart speaker like Google Home or Alexa? Do you regularly pick up your iPhone to ask Siri a question, or do you ever find yourself conversing with Cortana? If so, you already have a small glimpse into how important Voice Search has become.
What you may have given less thought to, however, is the importance of voice search to your business and how you need to start thinking about the way you do SEO and digital marketing. When you consider the fact that nearly 60% of consumers have used voice search at least once in the last year to find a local business[i] and that more than 40% of adults are using voice search every single day[ii], then it should be easy to see that voice search technology can no longer be ignored in your online marketing plan.
In this article, we will examine some of the ways that voice search is changing our approach to digital marketing.
1. People search differently when they use voice
When we type our search, we tend to use shorter and more formal phrases. For example, if you were typing and you wanted to know how to cook roast beef in your slow cooker, you might type something like “slow cooker roast beef recipe.” If you want the same information by voice, however, you’d be more likely to say something like, “Hey Google, how do I make roast beef in my slow cooker?”
From a digital marketing perspective, this means that we not only have to think about what people are typing into their search engines, but what they are saying to them as well.
When optimizing your website for voice search, it will be important to use natural conversational language in your keywords and don’t shy away from extra-long key phrases either. Since many people are conducting their voice searches in the form of questions, it is recommended that at least some of your keyword phrases be questions that people might use in a search.
As more people adopt voice search into their everyday lives, the more important this will become for local businesses.
2. Voice search lets people search from anywhere
While people have been searching on their mobile devices for some time now, the prevalence of voice search makes this even more convenient. If someone is in a new city and they want to order Chinese food, they can pick up their iPhone and say, “Hey Siri, where is the nearest Chinese restaurant?” According to one survey[iii], people are considerably more likely to do a voice search in public now than they were just one year ago.
This means that local SEO and features like Google Business are going to become increasingly relevant for businesses that want to promote themselves online.
3. Voice search changes the way that people get their search results
In recent years, you may have noticed that Google is evolving from a search engine into an answer engine. In many cases, you no longer must click through a link to find what you are looking for. Features such as Snippets and Knowledge Graphs can now give you much of the information you are looking for right within the search results – so there is less need to visit company websites.
To increase the chances that a smart speaker will use your answers, make sure that they are short and concise. Less than 30 words is ideal.
Another strategy you should be using is to optimize your site for Featured Snippets. Consider questions that a web user might use that could be found on your website. This is especially important when people are using devices like Alexa and Google Home because these devices will give only one answer.
To assist with this, it is a good idea to incorporate a frequently asked question page into your website. This can help you rank in voice searches for literally hundreds of queries.
Other Strategies for Ranking with Voice Search
Of course, there is much more to ranking on voice searches. Here are a few more tips to help your business gain a competitive edge:
- Write at a Grade 9 reading level or less. Avoid fancy words and jargon that people will not naturally have in their speech.
- Improve the speed of your website. Remember that voice search results are 3.8% faster than the average site.
- Improve your domain authority. Try to get your Ahref’s Domain Rating up to at least 77%.
- Optimize your website for searches that include the words “____ Near Me.”
- Remember to rank videos in your search results. Google now includes Video Feature Snippets in its search results. Instructional videos happen to work great for voice searches.
If your business hasn’t started optimizing its website for voice searches, there is no time like the present to start. Voice searches are on the increase and are showing no signs of slowing down.