You must have heard this quotation, “It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent that survives but the one that is most adaptable to the change.” This quote was given by Charles Darwin in the context of survival of the fittest. However, if you observe it carefully this quotation is not just limited to survival, but can furthermore be applied to any other scenario.

So, let us tweak this to business sense- It’s not about the brand nor the popularity of your company. If you want to stay alive you must adapt yourself to the ongoing changes in the business world.

With artificial intelligence becoming a household name and virtual assistants like Alexa and Google home leading to significant changes in the search landscape. Voice search has become more popular than ever. The ease of doing voice searches making users unable to get out of it.

As a result, it was estimated that 50% of all searches will be “voice search” by 2020. Voice search is being projected to increase year after year. So, organizations need to focus on this technology before they were outranked by their competitors.

50 percent voice search
Image Source: Backlinko

Therefore, it is high time to position your business on the fast-approaching voice-search world. Digital marketers need to stay updated with current trends and change your SEO strategy accordingly.

This article will serve as a complete guide for voice search optimization and help you to optimize your site and content for voice search.

What is a voice search?

Voice search allows users to search the information on the internet by using their voice rather than typing their queries in a search bar.

The Rise of Voice Search:

With the increase in the adoption of smart speakers and voice assistants like Google Home, Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Smart Phones. Voice search has seen an incredible rise in usage over the past years

In the U.S., alone 53% of 18-36-year-olds have smart speakers, which projects the strong appeal for voice search in the younger generation.

If you’re not currently using voice search optimization, you’re missing out on a ton of traction and valuable leads.

A quick look at voice search usage statistics: (worldwide)

  1. 1 billion voice searches are conducted each month
  2. 55% of people use voice search to find local businesses.
  3. 31% of smartphone owners use voice search at least once a week.
  4. 20% of searches on mobile devices are voice-based.
  5. 45% of millennials use voice assistants while shopping.
  6. 65% of smart speaker owners are comfortable purchasing on their smart speaker.
  7. 59% of smart speaker owners say it feels natural to talk to voice search devices.
  8. About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, a report by Gartner.
  9. 65 percent of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home can’t imagine going back to the days before they had a smart speaker, as per GeoMarketing.
  10. 41% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say it feels like talking to a friend or another person, as per Google.

Why do we need to optimize for Voice Search?

Simply because voice search is drastically improving user experience. As a result, users tend to use voice search over the traditional method. Currently, there are 3.25 billion voice assistant devices being used and this set to reach around 8 billion devices worldwide by 2023.

number of smart speaker worldwide

Due to its bountiful use, search engines such as Google are placing a higher emphasis on voice search optimization to furnish more relevant information to the user. Because user experience is, ultimately, at the forefront of Google.

After all, the point of SEO is to rank websites on the highest possibility of SERP and increase organic traction. As voice search is certainly the future of searches being conducted, and as an SEO expert you can’t deny its importance.

Simply put, is your website optimized to voice search? If it isn’t, you may be missing out on a billion voice searches per month.

Having said that, here are the 8 actionable tips for optimizing your website for voice search.

1) Use Long-Tail Keywords:

When users perform searches on Google the way they communicate to voice assistance devices becomes completely different from the traditional search on mobiles or desktops.

If the user is searching for information using a traditional method they tend to use small-tail keywords or short phrases. For Instance, the user wants to find a data science course, they could type “top data science course” into Google.

But if they use voice search the query will be more natural or into long-tail keywords. Like “what is the best data science course providing institute”?

According to research, voice searches have long-tail keywords around 8 to 9 words. To ensure your content is well optimized for voice search. You need to incorporate long-tail keywords in your content that make sense in conversational language.

2) Featured Snippets:

Featured snippets are the special boxes that include a summary of the answer pulled from a webpage and displayed on top of the Google search results as a quick answer to the user query. It is often called as position zero.

Featured snippets are imperative for voice search optimization because 50% of voice search results pull information from featured snippets and reads out to the user as the first result.

So, position zero is a great place to get maximum traction from voice searches.

How you can do that?

To get into the featured snippet:

  1. Your content should be optimized to answer specific questions elaborately.
  2. Your content will be more likely to be featured, if it’s presented as a paragraph, and has proper usage of Heading Tags, Lists and bullet points or table.
  3. Moreover try to keep your paragraph length below 50 words, and make the sentences brief and easy to understand

Before stepping into the body of content try to give a concise summary of your main content at the top section which helps crawler to fetch your summary and present it as a featured snippet.

3) Use Conversational Language:

Gone are the days where Google relied on keywords to understand the websites or nature of the content. Now Google is more into using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the nature of the content and to determine what to deliver to the user.

Whether you’re optimizing your website or content for text or voice search queries, the best way to rank on Google is by developing your content using conversational language.

The more you use jargon and robotic language in content, the fewer chances of appearing in voice search results.

For Instance, optimizing your website for “best voice assistance devices” will do better than choosing a keyword like “Top-end voice assistance devices” because it has a higher search volume.

Moreover, using natural language in the content will make the user spend more time on your page than simply using jargon language. Ultimately, proper usage of natural language will increase the chances of matching your content to voice queries.

4) User Intent and Question Phrases:

Understanding user intent while building your content will work best when it comes to voice search optimization. You need to anticipate the queries that the user might ask on Google while they are searching for the product or service you offer. As users put these queries through voice search the query style will be in conversational language and most of them will include long-tail question phrases.

For Example:

  • “What is the best voice assistant device?”
  • “How much does a Google home cost?”
  • “Which is the best institute for digital marketing course?”
  • “Which is the top brand for smartwatches?”

Precisely, you need to consider conversational long-tail question phrases and create content accordingly.

How you can find this long-tail question phrase suggestions:

  • By following Google related searches at the bottom of the result page.
  • People also ask section on SERP.
  • When it comes to tools: Answer the Public is a handy tool for this to get some good ideas.
  • Most importantly put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and list down the possible queries.

Moreover, the majority of the voice queries will contain: ‘what,’ ‘why,’ ‘which,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’. So you should optimize your content that could answer these questions more naturally which makes Google fetch your content as the best result when people search it verbally.

Question Phrases

5) Structure Data:

Structured data, also known as schema markup, is a form of HTML data embed into your website’s code which helps search engines crawl to easily discover and understand your website content efficiently.

Now Google is constantly learning through algorithms and updates like Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the nature of the content and trying to deliver the best results based on the user intent.

To match the user intent or increase your website’s visibility you need to provide the right instructions to Google to truly understand every element of your content.

This is where structured data comes in to play. With structured data, you can better control the way you provide information about your website and helps Google to understand what your page is about, nature of the content and how it can help the user. The more Google gets a clear picture of your content the better it will reward with higher search results on voice searches.

6) Mobile-friendliness:

When it comes to voice searches, mobile devices will be on the top preference compared to other devices. Particularly searches involving keyword like  “near me,” are performed on mobile devices and people are relying on voice searches to guide them to their destination.

Globally, 31% of smartphone owners prefer to use voice search at least once a week. These numbers only tend to increase as Smartphone usage is rising exponentially.

As a result, Google also emphasizes mobile experience and gives priority to mobile-friendly websites. It is therefore vital that you make your site as mobile-friendly as possible to deliver the amazing mobile user experience. 

If your website is not mobile-friendly, then now is the time to take action.

How to do that:

  • Build mobile responsive web pages.
  • Focus on improving site speed by – Optimizing Images, compressing files and minifying your code.
  • Make sure your website loading speed should be less than 5 seconds.

7) Focus on Local SEO:

If you own a brick and mortar business then voice search is for you. Because one of the most popular uses of voice search is finding local businesses. According to Forbes, 22% of voice search queries are looking for local-based content and this frequency is only going to increase.

To make sure you are not missing out valuable customers in your business location you need to start optimizing for local-based voice searches.

How to optimize for local-based voice searches:

  • Register your business on Google My Business(GMB) listings – this is an ideal way to let Google know that your business is located at a location.
  • Make sure your business name, address, and phone numbers are updated and accurate on GMB listings.
  • Most of the locally-based voice search queries include a phrase such as “near me” or “local.” So incorporate local keywords in your strategy to rank on these keywords.

All these steps will help you to rank high on local-based voice search queries.

8) Create FAQ Pages:

An FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions page is generally used to provide all the answers that visitors are searching related to your product or service on the website in one place.

When it comes to voice search the two most important factors we need to observe are:

1) The majority of voice search queries contain question phrases.

2) Google’s average voice search result contains 29 words.

The most relevant pages that can satisfy these two criteria are FAQ Pages. This is why creating FAQ pages on your website that answers as many questions as possible is important.

FAQ’s are not only the best way to answer commonly asked questions but also to show up in the voice search queries. Because voice search results (2.68%) are 1.7x more likely to fetch from a FAQ page compared to desktop results (1.54%).

So, creating an FAQ page is one of the best practices to optimize for voice search in 2020. Before writing these pages it’s important to spend some time on research to find out what type of questions your customers are using on Google to find the information related to product or service which you are offering.

Implementing those questions on your pages and answering them more naturally will increase your likelihood of winning the top spot on voice search queries.

Most importantly, incorporate your high performing keywords while answering questions on FAQ pages will further improve your chances to seize top spot of SERP.

Now, where should you implement FAQs:

Instead of providing all the Q&A’s on a single page. My best advice is to provide unique FAQs on all the major product pages separately. This will help you to optimize all your targeted pages and give more liberty to Google for selecting the best pages to show on SERP.

Closing Note:

Once you’ve done with the above-mentioned practices, just imagine millions of virtual assistant devices are start presenting your page’s content as the best answer to a user query. That’s the power of voice search optimization.

In 2020 and further, we will gradually rely more on voice search and less on keyboard searching. So, start optimizing your website today for the future of tomorrow.