Put simply, voice search technology allows the user to perform a search using a voice command, whether on the Internet, a website, or an application. The simplicity, ease, and time-saving elements it provides have caused its popularity to increase steadily over recent years. Tools like Siri have spawned products like Amazon’s Alexa, bringing more convenience into modern life. As of 2021, 41% of adults use voice search at least once a day.
How Voice Search Impacts Search Engine Optimization
So, how does voice search tie in with SEO? Well, when we type a question or a query into a search engine, the search engine first tries to understand what we are looking for (based on keywords), then generates the best matches for it; considering not only the actual search terms, but the “intent” or the context behind those keywords.
However, the way we would type in a question is not necessarily the same way we would ask the question out loud. We might type “supermarket near me” into the search bar but say “Where is the best supermarket near me?” out loud.
In short, voice search is usually much more conversational and natural sounding. This has increased the need for search engines to detect the meaning behind the words being used, rather than basing an answer solely on keywords, which focuses on the user’s actual experience, rather than bringing up results that may simply be keyword optimized.
So, why optimize for voice search? Voice search results generally rank in the top 3 on search engine results pages, which means that, if you rank higher, your website will get more visitors. And who doesn’t want that?
Voice Search Statistics for 2021
- Nearly 50% of people now research products using voice search
- A survey by HubSpot showed that 74% of respondents used voice search within the last month
- Nearly 20% of all voice searches are triggered by a set of 25 keywords, including: how, what, best, and easy
- 58% of consumers use voice search to find local business information
- 28% of consumers get on a call with the business they voice searched for
- Phone calls convert to 10-15x more revenue than web leads
SEO Strategies and Techniques for Voice Search Optimization
Now that we know why optimizing for voice search is important, let’s get into the how.
Research Keywords for Voice Queries
Keywords for voice searches are different to typed searches. Voice searches often start with question words, such as:
- Who, what, when, where, why, and how
- Can, could, should, and would
- Is, are, was, and will
- Do, does, and have
You’ve likely already done keyword research before, so the first step is to look through the previous research you did to find similar terms, then adapt them into questions that are more conversational. You can also use Google autocomplete to find out what people are looking for. The important thing to remember when optimizing your content for voice search, is that your content should be used to answer questions. Use short, concise answers, as Google tends to answer voice searches with 29-word results, on average.
Just as you are creating a list of keywords, make a list of ‘negative’ keywords – words that you don’t want your website brought up as a result for. Examples of ‘negative’ words could be ‘cheap’, ‘bargain’, or anything else depending on your business goals.
Local searches make up about 46% of all searches, and these searches are generally made by people who actually want to make a purchase – and soon. Maybe they’re looking for directions to a nearby location, or perhaps something else entirely.
Whatever it may be, it is important to keep in mind that since yours is a local business, it needs to be optimized as such, keeping the users’ perspective in mind. They are usually looking for information from which they can take action, and in their vicinity, whether it’s making a store purchase, getting a takeaway, or finding a repair shop.
If you’re a local business, it’s worth working on your local SEO as this will not only help you get new business in the area, but also help you rank in local pack on SERPs, if you satisfy user intent. Make sure you keep your website technically sound, list your business as a local business in local directories, keep creating content that is relevant to local users, and integrate location-specific search terms into that copy.
Long-Tail Keywords and Phrases
Long-tail keywords are more specific than commonly used ones. For example: a keyword may be ‘lose weight’ while the long-tail keyword may be ‘how to lose weight in a month’. Though these phrases are not used as often, they have a much higher conversation value, helping you find audiences that are keen to make an actual purchase or take actual action.
A long-tail keyword strategy can also be extremely useful when there’s a lot of competition, either in your market, or in the main keywords you want to rank for.
Improving Page Load Speed
As we already know, page loading speed is a vital factor in site ranking. According to Google, 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. A study by Backlinko found that Google favors web pages with low loading times, and that the voice search algorithm uses page speed as a key ranking factor.
So, how can you make sure that your website loads fast on all types of devices? Here are a few pointers you can start with:
- Minimize redirect chains
- Reduce server response time
- Load above-the-fold content first, instead of the whole page
- Use Gzip compression
- Avoid using custom fonts
Use Google’s My Business for “Near Me” Searches
Want to get more local business? The main factor that determines “near me” results is a Google My Business Listing.
Google needs to know where your business is located when someone searches for similar businesses in the locality. Include your name, address, and phone number, along with your business category, and area code.
Get your GMB listing verified & keep it up to date. Post regular updates that are relevant to people in nearby areas. You can also provide offers, discounts, or updates about a new product or service.
Having an FAQ page on your website is an important factor in showing up in the results of a voice search. Why? Because, as mentioned above, most voice searches begin with a question, and because FAQ answers are generally short and to the point, fulfilling the average 29-word count answer that Google likes to show in the results.
What is the Conclusion?
Voice search is already huge and it’s only going to grow! The best time to optimize your website for voice search is today. Make sure you’re getting a slice of the voice search traffic’s pie by prioritizing optimization and putting these steps into practice now. If you’re unsure of how to get started, book a free consultation with our SEO experts today.