Voice Search SEO Tips: How To Optimize For Voice Search
“Hi Bill, what are you up to?”
Bill: “good pizza nearby”
This is not the way we talk to each other, is it? We use this kind of keyword query language when we are searching for something on Google. Google gets it. Google understands that we want to eat a nice pizza at a place that is located closer to where we are, and so provides us several options – unlike Bill’s friend, who is confused now.
Although we are very familiar with keyword query language, we do not use it when we speak. When we speak, it is more conversational, we use a natural tone; and, Google gets that, too. Cool – because the fastest growing type of search is voice search, and now we know; we do not need to sound like a robot. With voice search, you can just ask Google your questions out loud and the answers will be spoken back to you, no matter where you are. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
Uh-ooh, A New Type Of Search. What Does This Mean For SEO?
“Ok Google, do I need an umbrella today?” “How far is the moon?” “What sound does a hippo make?” “Who is the best digital marketing agency in the world?” (Google replied: “Kubix Digital” – really). People of all ages are starting to use their voice when searching for something online, but they are not using it all in the same way. Millennials often search for local business information and traffic updates, Gen Xers for the latest news, and Baby Boomers talk to their digital assistants when they are looking for a recipe or wonder what the weather’s going to look like.
For each of these queries, a relevant answer is spoken back. In order to be one of those lucky no.1 answers (yes no.1, as there is only one spot to compete for), you have to make sure that you are noticed by the voice assistant. How? Exactly – through voice search SEO; kind of the same way as you would optimize for online search queries, but a bit more ‘humanized’ this time. Super easy, right? If not, I’ve got you covered. Follow these four voice search SEO tips and become being-spoken-about-by-voice-assistants-ready, uff.
Tip 1: Add Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords can be described as a very targeted phrase that contains three or more words. Often, a long-tail keyword consists of a head term – the main, general keyword – with one or two more specific keywords added. I will give you an example: let’s say, as we are in Istanbul, we want to eat some turkish simit (yum). As Istanbul is gi-gan-tic, we just want to find it in the area we’re at; Maslak (ok, there are hundreds of small simit food-carts on the streets too, but let’s assume we don’t see them; or even better, we want to drink tea with it).
When searching the traditional way, we would just write simit on Google and it pulls up a list of simit shops to go to. But when searching with our voice, we might say something like: “Ok Google, what is the best simit place in Maslak?” – and ta-daa, we’ve got our very first long-tail keyword to focus on in our voice search optimization strategy; best simit place Maslak. But what if we weren’t looking for the best place, but asked “Ok Google, which place in Maslak sells gluten-free simit” instead. You see, Maslak gluten free simit is another long-tail keyword. Not so complicated, is it? I am sure that when you brainstorm, you will be able to come up with many more questions like these. Add these long-tail keywords and phrases to your content, headings, title tags (you can read all about optimizing your title tags here), or create a separate FAQ section – or even dedicate an entire blog post to it – to answer such queries.
Tip 2: Having a Mobile-Friendly Website is Key
Most of the people use their mobile devices for voice search requests – so, the one thing you definitely need to have when you want to appear at the top of the voice results, is a mobile-friendly, responsive design. Wondering how mobile-friendly your website is? Use Google’s mobile-friendly test; and while you’re at it, why don’t you check your mobile speed and loading time, too!
Tip 3: Focus on Local SEO
It’s free, it’s super efficient, it’s easy-to-use and to-manage, and it’s all you need for customers to find your business. What is it?
Google My Business – obviously – and really if you haven’t claimed your listing yet, do so. GMB is the place to have your business appear right when people are searching for it on Google Search or Maps. Add photos, directions, contact details, hours, and even reviews; all these details will help Google to pull up the most relevant results for the searcher. But, what has it to do with voice search?
Well, voice search is hands-free, fast, and easy; making it oh-so convenient for those on-the-go moments. With 53% of voice searches happening while driving, it comes as no surprise that many of these queries are location specific. Imagine you have a gas station; someone is driving around and suddenly the fuel light starts to blink. He might immediately ask his voice assistant for directions to the nearest gas station. Now, if your listing is optimized on GMB and you are located in the area, Google may give your gas station as a result.
Tip 4: Use Structured Data
This might be the most tough one, but once you’ve got it all set up on your website, it was worth the sweat - believe me.
In a nutshell, structured data is a piece of code that you implement on your webpage. This piece of code helps Google to understand what the content on your site is all about. Although it is not really a ranking factor – might be in the future, though – it can make your search result snippet richer and so, stand out from the crowd. With richer I mean that you are able to add extra pieces of information such as prices, hours, review stars, and even pictures or videos, to your snippet.
That snippet looks way more attractive to click on, doesn’t it! *click* – oops, let’s stay on topic. As you can see, a voice assistant can already get so much valuable information out of this snippet alone. If the query was “Ok Google, give me a good and easy to make soup recipe” this webpage may have a good chance to be featured because (1) its good: 4-stars out of 800+ reviews, (2) easy to make: mentioned in title tag plus it only takes 30 minutes, and (3) it is a soup recipe like I wanted, great! Bonus to this: with structured data you will be able to rank for featured snippets (position zero) and answer box queries, too – and if that’s the case, there will be a high possibility that your content is the answer to the voice query!
Oh, and let’s not forget about the famous knowledge graphs too. Having a knowledge graph helps to make your content more accessible and easier to be found. A knowledge graph simply takes information from various sources (like Wikidata, Wikipedia; you should definitely open a Wikipedia page as well) and presents it in a box on the right side of the search results. Besides these sources, many other information parts are taken from structured data, such as reviews, movie information, and events. The most important thing about this all; the information that appears in the knowledge graph, is often used as a spoken answer of the voice assistants. It's even said that when you’re not in the knowledge graph, you won’t show up in voice search, too. So, you’d better start adding those vital pieces of structured data codes to your webpage.
* Totally lost? – we’ve prepared a super handy structured data guide with real examples of markup data to make it easier for you.
“OK Kubixer, Can You Summarize The Content For Me?”
On the road, at the office, in the bathroom; whenever and wherever we are, we are talking to our devices. Our voice assistant is like our super-smart new best friend, that goes where we go and that we can bother with our questions, all day and all night. Our new friend has a huge brain (aka database) with billions of answers on any question we might have, but; to each of these questions, it will only give one answer – and we, as marketers, have to make sure that what he replies, is our content.
We can make voice assistants more aware of our content when we optimize it in a ‘human way’; so-called voice search optimization. This means that we really need to think about what kind of questions people have regarding our business, products or services, and how our content can answer those specific questions with exact answers. Are they looking for a fail-proof dinner recipe to impress a date, or – if not a kitchen hero – a top sushi restaurant with reasonable prices? Show them what you’ve got, with structured data. Are they wondering which juices work well to get that healthy, glowing skin? Provide the answer on your FAQ page or blog post, while focusing on long-tail keywords and natural speech. Or are they just looking for the opening hours and directions to the nearest bowling alley? Your Google My Business listing has it covered. These tricks you can (or we can help you, too; just get in touch) easily implement and it gives your content that extra oomph it needs to get noticed by the voice assistants!
Voice Search Statistics
And hey; to convince you even more of why you should be optimizing for voice search SEO asap, let me give you some jaw-dropping stats:
1. There are over one billion voice searches per month
2. 40 % of adults use voice search at least once a day
3. Almost 50 % uses voice search when researching for products
4. Google Assistant is available on more than 400 million devices
5. By 2020, 50 % of all searches will be voice searches
6. And; about 30 % of all searches will be done without a screen, by 2020
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