You’ve most likely heard about voice search over the past few years. Maybe you’re wondering if voice search really is the next big thing.
While you shouldn’t place all your focus on voice search, digital marketers and content creators can no longer ignore the importance of voice search in SEO and organic search.
According to Statista, there would be over 4 billion digital voice assistant devices in use in 2020. Google found 20% of searches are conducted on a voice-enabled device.
As the number of online users increases and voice assistant devices grow, brands must incorporate voice search into their content strategy.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search allows you to speak into a device to conduct a search query for results.
Voice technology, such as Google Brain Rank, uses speech recognition to identify what a user is saying. It then reads back your results.
It’s important to remember that voice search is more natural and conversational in tone. Most searches are performed on mobile devices and tend to focus on local search results.
Natural language means search terms tend to be longer than text-based searches. In general, voice search is focused on providing immediate results for the user’s current location.
5 Tips to Optimize Your Content for Voice Search
While it may seem daunting to adapt to new technology, don’t worry. You can begin to optimize for voice search by building off traditional search engine optimization (SEO) best practices.
Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you optimize your content for voice search.
1. Start with SEO Basics
It’s important to remember that voice search is a component of SEO. Voice search provides you with another tool to rank high in organic search, increase traffic to your website, engage new customers, and provide a high-quality user experience.
So, establishing a strong SEO foundation should come as no surprise. Make sure you are creating high-quality, authoritative, relevant content that engages your audience.
A few basics to remember:
- Create an SEO-friendly website
- Provide readers with compelling content
- Incorporate keywords into the content naturally
- Build backlinks
2. Focus on Longtail/Conversational Keywords
As noted, voice search is conversational in tone. People use natural language when speaking to a smartphone or virtual assistant.
When we have a conversation, we speak in full sentences (“What are the best luxury hotels in New York City?”). While on a desktop, searches tend to consist of a few words or short phrases (“hotels in nyc”).
Think about how audiences speak about your business, industry, and services to optimize content for increased organic traffic. How would you ask a question? What kinds of questions do people ask to find your website? Think in terms of speaking as opposed to keywords.
A few ways to find out what your audience is looking for:
- Answer the Public will amend your search term with words like “how,” “what,” and “for” so you can identify search intent. Here’s an example of a search done for “hotels in nyc”:
- Google Search Console allows you to identify the actual queries that are bringing people to your website.
- Document questions your customers are directly asking you and your team.
Remember: While longtail keywords are essential to optimize for voice search, shorter keywords should still be a part of your keyword strategy and incorporated into your content.
3. Answer Questions
Longtail keywords are essentially answers to questions. You should be creating content around answering questions your readers are asking in search queries.
Voice search queries contain a lot of questions: how, what, when, why, and where. When people speak to a voice assistant, they tend to be specific in hopes of getting a more accurate answer.
Create content that answers a specific question, such as:
- Blog posts
- FAQ website page
In addition to the analytic tools mentioned above, social media is another resource for understanding your customers’ and potential customers’ questions and the answers they are seeking.
Once you know the questions readers are asking, you can create content around answering these questions.
4. Think Mobile & Local
There is no doubt; voice search is faster and easier than text-based search. Speaking into your smartphone allows people to multitask while searching for immediate answers.
A BrightLocal study found 56% of voice searches are done on smartphones, while 46% of users are searching for local businesses.
More people are using smartphones to ask for directions, find the nearest business, or look up movie times (at least in pre-pandemic times). So when there’s a relevant local angle, content creators need to ensure they optimize their posts and website for local voice search.
Here are a few ways to start optimizing for local and mobile search:
- Build a mobile-friendly website.
- Improve website loading time.
- Register your business with Google My Business.
- Include your locations, phone number, and hours on your website.
- Answer “near me” questions in your content.
5. Format for Featured Snippets
Creating content that is clear and concise is fundamental when it comes to SEO and traditional search. The same applies to voice search.
While Google isn’t the only search engine, it is still the most widely used search engine. Therefore, it’s important to understand Google has emphasized voice search optimization.
The leading voice search feature on Google is the featured snippet, also known as position zero.
When you enter a search query, you’ll notice a box that shows up with your answer. Google refers to this as a featured snippet.
The featured snippet is a brief description of a webpage that appears below the paid ads and above the organic search list. Feature snippets most often show in paragraph and list formats.
You don’t have to place first in organic search results to appear as the featured snippet. You only have to appear in the top 10 and optimize for the featured snippet.
Here are a few tips for optimizing for the featured snippet:
- Write short sentences and paragraphs for easy readability for both Google and humans.
- Include H-tags, numbers, and bullet lists, which Google easily identifies.
- Include longtail keywords early on in your content.
- Answer specific questions directly.
While it’s not easy, claiming position zero is the #1 reason you’ll feature in voice search.
The Future of Voice Search
Voice search continues to evolve within the SEO and digital marketing landscape. Marketers and content creators must adapt their strategies for their brand to stay relevant. The above tips and search tools will help you create and optimize your digital strategy to compete for voice search.
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Maureen Beard is a Senior Content Specialist at PR Newswire. With over a decade of content marketing experience, she counsels PR professionals on SEO and content writing best practices. She contributes to @PRNlgbt and the Cision Blog. Connect with her on LinkedIn.