Voice Search SEO: 6 Strategies to Help You Dominate
You already know how important search engine optimization (SEO) is to your business. It can help drive customers to your website, primarily from search engines, but also from social media and anywhere else that you publish content. You will also know that you need to revisit your SEO strategy on a regular basis to ensure that it is still producing the results you want.
However, the use of voice search is increasing, which is something worth considering when planning your SEO strategy.
Here are some actionable statistics to prove the relevance of voice search:
- 123.5m people in the US are regularly using voice assistants.
- 32% of US consumers possess smart speakers.
- 27% of global smartphone users use voice search daily.
As technology advances, you can expect to see that figure continue to rise on an annual basis.
So what? Is there any need to change your SEO strategy? The reality is that people search for things slightly differently when using voice search versus traditional methods.
So, what exactly is voice search? What SEO strategies should you employ to ensure voice search optimization and make it work for you, and just how do you measure the success of your strategies? This article will answer these questions.
What is voice search?
As the name suggests, a voice search is when someone uses speech to search for something online rather than typing out their query on a keyboard. Some of the most common voice search systems are Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa.
When it comes to differences between traditional and voice searches, there are two key ones to keep in mind.
Whereas traditional searches usually use short phrases (“Italian food”, “Boston”), a voice search tends to be more precise (“Where will I find the best gnocchi in Boston?”).
The other related difference is that with a voice search, people expect a more precise answer than with traditional searches.
4 Advantages of Voice Search
So, you can see voice search is increasing in usage, but what advantages does voice search offer your marketing strategy?
1. Voice search boosts your brand awareness
Voice search optimization can boost your brand in much the same way as optimizing your traditional SEO strategy. Making your content more discoverable always leads to more website visits and an increased share of voice.
Moreover, if people expect more precise answers and those answers lead to your business, then more people will get to know about you.
2. Voice boosts your local presence
One of the reasons people use voice search is to find a service local to them.
According to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice searches are 3 times more likely to be local-based than text queries.
With the more precise nature of an SEO voice search, they can look for services in their city, or even in a particular district. A voice search is more convenient than a traditional search, and it can help you see increased traffic from people in your area.
3. Voice helps you achieve higher authority
Voice search optimization helps you reach more people. If more people are discovering your website through voice search, then your authority ranking will also rise. By ensuring that your SEO voice search strategy and your overall SEO strategy are both the best they can be, then your website will have a better ranking.
4. Voice provides immediate answers
Just like with interactive voice messaging, when people use voice search, they expect immediate and direct answers. With a more precise question format, they expect the same in return. By ensuring you know how to optimize for voice search, you ensure that answers will be immediate and informative. People want the exact information they are looking for and they want an immediate response.
6 Strategies for an effective voice search SEO
To achieve voice search optimization, you’re going to have to have different strategies to your traditional SEO. While many of the keywords and phrases may be similar, it’s how you use them that differs.
1. Use conversational keywords
In a traditional search, people use fragmented phrases rather than whole sentences. With a voice search, it’s more like they are asking a person. That has to be reflected in the keywords or phrases that you use as part of your SEO strategy. By identifying words and phrases that are directly relevant to your product or service, then you are more likely to see good results.
Where will you find those words and phrases? You can look back at records of queries to customer support or on social media. How are people asking questions there?
AnswerThePublic is a powerful search listening tool that shows you the language used by your target audience. You can enter a search term you’re interested in and the platform will show you a list of conversational keywords split by topics. Here’s an example:
Also, look at previous content you have created and see if you can take existing keywords and transform them into sentences. For example, if you have a key phrase like ‘enterprise telephone’, you could change that to ‘what is the best enterprise phone system?’
2. Aim to be mobile-friendly
With so many voice searches coming from mobile devices, it’s essential that your strategy recognizes this and is mobile-friendly. Google’s web crawlers now assess the mobile version of your site first before indexing it, so having a mobile-responsive site is crucial if you want to have a good ranking.
So, before you even formulate your SEO voice search strategy, you should be ensuring that the mobile version of your site works well with the most popular devices. If someone searches and finds your site, but then finds it is not very mobile-friendly, then they will move on to the next result.
3. Use schema markup
Schema is a kind of microdata that helps search engine bots find the most important information on your website, such as location or phone number. Your existing schema may be structured in such a way that it only works well with a traditional search. That’s why you need to adjust it for voice searches too.
You want any voice search to understand your information and data. If, for example, you provide QA outsourcing services, then you want any search engine to easily find all the crucial info a customer may want to know. That can include basic info such as your location and contact details, but also additional info such as details of your services or associated social media profiles.
Schema.org is the most common vocabulary that can be used with various encoding types. The website provides the most common types of schema markups and allows you to validate your own markup.
Moreover, Google recently released a beta version of a voice search schema called speakable. It allows search engines and other apps to identify content to read aloud. That’s a crucial step towards full audio web browsing.
4. Utilize Google My Business listing
As one of the advantages of voice search optimization is to establish a local presence, it’s important that you have an updated Google My Business listing, as well as listings on other main search engines such as Bing). People may not want to go to your website but will still want relevant info such as location and opening hours.
Fill in as many categories as you can, keeping in mind that it is helping drive customers to your website or to your physical location. If someone asks what is the best video conferencing headset, then they want as much information as possible, from your URL to when you are open. With My Business listings, you can help provide all the information they might need.
5. Use FAQ as a guide in creating content
As we have already mentioned, voice search is more conversational than traditional searches.
With traditional SEO, your content creators are more focused on individual words or phrases. With a voice search, they have to change their mindset slightly to include actual sentences. It’s also worth noting that those sentences will usually start with the words “what”, “where”, “how”, “who”, “where”, and “when”.
Your existing (and developing) FAQ section can be a great source for conversational keywords. For example, you may already have a question that provides you with a phrase that can be used in new content, such as ‘what are the benefits of cloud computing to remote workers?’. You can also look at questions and comments people have left in your blogs and forums if you have them.
6. Use long tail and question keywords
You already know that a voice search will involve longer queries than a text search. As well as the question words previously mentioned, your voice search optimization strategy should focus on long tail keywords.
When using voice search, users unconsciously spell out more detailed search queries. This might positively influence your conversion rate. In recent research, Semrush has found a correlation between long tail keywords and conversion rates.
Think about your products/services and how customers might inquire about them. The more niche the query, then the more long tail keywords you will need to include as the questions themselves will be longer.
For example, someone may ask ‘what are the best ways to leverage emotional intelligence when communicating with colleagues?’. As you can see, that is a very precise question, so your use of long tail words should reflect that.
Pro tip: doing voice SEO keyword research really is a creativity game. Don’t expect keyword tools to help you here. Neither SEMrush (they have the largest keyword database and are widely considered to be the best keyword research tool) nor any of their closest competitors will be able to help you.
Instead, you must get into the potential searcher’s head and think about what they could search for, and what questions they probably have, but the tools are totally blind to them.
It’ll be weird at first, but you'll get better with practice.
4 Key Metrics to Track Voice Search Performance
Of course, as with any new strategy or any adjustment to an existing strategy, you want to be able to measure how successful your strategy is. It’s very unlikely that you will get things 100% right the first time, so you need to be able to extract relevant data to see what worked and what didn’t so that you can tweak those areas and make them perform better.
1. Conversion rate
Conversion rate is probably the most obvious metric to track, if you have implemented a new voice search optimization strategy and see a rise in your revenue and/or your conversion rates, then you know you are doing something right. Of course, you need to be able to analyze those figures and see what increases in those metrics are being driven by voice searches.
This may take a little more work than normal analyses to see where long tail searches led to a sale.
Being able to measure the engagement levels of customers and potential customers with your content can be a great indicator that your voice search SEO strategy is working. If people are landing on your website, social media page, or blog via searches that have used long tail words and then spend a significant amount of time reading that content (or subscribing to your blogs or mailing list), then your strategy is working.
Say you have written a blog on the dangers of overworking your staff. Your content creators have put several long tail keywords and phrases in that content so people find it easily. If you see increased engagement levels with that blog and an increase in subscriptions, then your voice search optimization strategy is on point.
Intent can be a strange but useful metric. After all, the natural assumption is that a customer visits your site when they intend to buy something. Of course, that is not always the case; they may just be browsing or looking through your blogs for answers to questions such as, “What a data lake is?”.
So, how do you measure intent? Why not just ask a simple question when people arrive at your site via a voice search; ‘why did you visit our website today?’ Keep the options equally simple: ‘to buy’, ‘to compare prices’, ‘just browsing’, and so on. Because voice searches are so precise, you should see an increase in purchasing intent.
4. User fallout
Understanding how well different segments of your sales funnel work can be a huge help when assessing your voice search strategy. Being able to see how customers behave at different touchpoints can let you identify weak and strong points. It’s a metric that works well when you can visualize it and see where specific actions occur.
For example, if you are selling domain name registration in Australia, then it can help to see at what points the visitor made a decision. That decision could be to register with you or subscribe or to just move straight to purchase from landing on your homepage via a voice search.
Put your voice search strategy on the next level
With the use of voice searches continuing to rise, having a good voice search SEO strategy is now an important factor for most businesses. It can be hugely beneficial to areas of your business, such as brand awareness, and can be especially useful if you are looking to establish a strong local presence.
As voice searches are more precise than traditional searches, you need to expand current efforts considerably so that your key phrases are more conversational in nature to recognize the way people will ask questions. With a solid voice search optimization strategy, you can get ahead of the competition.
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