Voice Search Optimization

Voice Search is something I never could have imagined using in my daily life, until recently that is. Now that I have a voice assistant at home, I could never even imagine going back! I’m not alone in that statement either; 60% of individuals couldn’t see themselves without a voice assistant.

But what does this mean as a business owner, and how much of searching is done by voice search? In 2020, half of searches are done by voice. Taking on to that figure, of all voice searches, 35% come from mobile phones; this number is less surprising seeing as over 3 billion individuals have a smartphone. These are incredible statistics seeing as voice search capabilities are still growing since their launch in 2008. Voice search wasn’t added to many mobile phones until the early 2010s, and has taken off significantly since 2013.
Currently voice search is (or will be within a year) available in 70 different languages. What this means is that daily there are people worldwide searching on the internet for various different things.
Part of the reason voice search is so prominent today is because of smart home devices. Currently there are three main providers of smart home devices, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google home. These smart home devices can help with daily tasks like making phone calls, setting alarms, playing music, and most importantly (or relevant to this article) searching on google. In Canada 1 / 3 homes have a smart home device and in the United States that number skyrockets to over 7 / 10. These numbers aren’t even taking in the built in abilities on smartphones.
All modern and emerging smartphones come equipped with a voice assistant. With this being true, 40 percent of adults and 55 percent of teens use voice search every single day. So if you want to optimize your business to include voice search, first we have to break down how it works.

How Does Voice Search Work?

Regular searching works when the user types in keywords to a google search bar then hits search. Voice search on the other hand works with vocal recognition and extreme accuracy; when the user speaks a question or query, the assistant gathers information and the user receives an answer orally. Voice search programs are getting better at figuring out what the users are looking for. People usually ask questions with conversational tone when it’s with voice assistance devices and the search engines might not be able to keep up with the difference. This is ideal in many scenarios when hands or vision is not an option.
As we can see in this graph people use voice search when they are preoccupied and cannot reach the phone to text. 74.1% of people use their voice search when driving or doing an activity. This is probably because 56% of voice searchers use the feature when they don’t have time to type. The kind of commands range all over the map, from making a call, to navigation and even to asking questions directed for search engines. What this means for you is voice search is another channel to drive traffic from. If you aren’t taking the time and consideration to optimize your content for voice search, you definitely should be. Let me show you why.

SEO as it Pertains to Voice Search

Is SEO as important for voice searches as it is for regular searches?  Absolutely! If anything SEO is more important for voice than regular searches.  This is because regular searches allow the user to select which site they chose, where in the case of voice search, the best match is read to them.  With voice search, the user does not choose which site they receive information from.  Instead it is left up to the search engine algorithms.

Secondly, the kinds of things people search for using voice control is largely different from what one searches on their own.  Voice control searches consist of a lot of “what is the closest ______ to me?”, along with other navigation searches.  

Thirdly, the length and context of searches is different.  Rather than being a few words llong, searches are longer and have a more conversational tone and flow.  What I mean by that is that people are treating these vocal recognition searching services as more human than a regular search.  Instead of typing “restaurants near me”, a relatively short search direct search they are opting for a longer version such as “what are some restaurants close to me?”.  This happens also because speaking is much faster than typing.  How much faster? You can speak over three times as fast as you can type.  The average person can type at a rate of around 38-40 words per minute, compared to 110-150 words a minute with speech.  People can speak and specify their search results.

A small difference but can make the world of a difference when we look SEO wise. When using voice search features, people are consistently searching for longer queries compared to text searches. As you see, the number of text searches drops off at around 3 words, after the three word mark is where voice search begins to gain popularity. One reason is because searching the same words we say can be very different. If you type search “making pizza”, you will probably see many different websites teaching you how to make pizza. If you speak that same
phrase, the voice assistant will not understand or will give you another query response list. So, when it comes to what I mean by conversational, I mean your user will probably say “how do you make pizza?”. This is a reason that SEO needs to be applied to voice searches along with regular searches; the customer behaviour is growing constantly and rapidly alongside technology.

Voice Keywords

Optimizing and choosing keywords or key phrases on voice search might be a new challenge for you.  Rather than being relatively simple and traditional, Voice Search keywords must be accommodated differently than typing.  They must vary not in the physical words, but the structure of the words.  When searching for something online, many people use question words.  You know, like that chart every elementary school teacher had with “who, what, where, when, why, how, and total” written on it.  In terms of voice search, people are not looking up one or two words, they are asking questions.  This means that you no longer are looking to rank for one or two keywords, instead an entire question.  Let me show you what I mean by that.  Take the keyword plumbing.  Instead of the keyword being plumbing, it would be one of these commonly searched questions pertaining to plumbing:

This handy wheel can be transformed to find questions with regards to any topic.  If you are interested in trying it for yourself, have a look at  Answer The Public, type in your word and see all the possibilities.

Keywords that sound more conversational will rank higher in voice search results than short abrupt words.  However, this generally occurs quite naturally as Google is interested in sharing valuable and complete information as opposed to keyword heavy content.  Here at 23e2, our carefully curated content development is meant to target your audience rather than only to please search engines. Ultimately, why Google favors certain sites more than others is because those sites actually provide useful information to people. Search engines are more likely to rank sites that give great user experience higher.

Voice search uses keywords in a way that regular google searches don’t.  Optimize for voice search In all your articles to attract more consumers and customers.

How to Optimize your Site for Voice Search

The first step to optimizing your site for voice search is to understand how exactly voice search works.  Since we already went over that in the previous sections, let’s take a look at the other ways that you can implement voice search optimization.  Optimizing your site isn’t only about enhancing the website,  to rank in voice searches, you need to adjust your website in many ways.  The ways you can optimize your site for voice search are by activating a Google My Business account, by paying attention to your mobile site set up, by incorporating longer keywords and phrases, aim for snippets on Google, and finally by tweaking and testing your site.

The first step that you can take to optimize your site is to activate your “My Business” account on Google.  This first step will allow your establishment to show up in different geographical searches.  For example, say you own an Italian restaurant, and someone voice searches for Italian restaurants near me, your restaurant has a better chance of showing up if you have a Google my business account set up.

Secondly, pay more attention to your mobile site set up. Because so many of the voice search queries are coming from mobile devices, it is dull to omit or discredit the importance of offering a quality mobile site.   Assuming that you are putting effort into your webpages (desktop/mobile) based on the volume of customers, it wouldn’t even be that crazy to spend more time on the mobile setup than the desktop format.

Next don’t shy away from incorporating longer keywords or key phrases.  While in some cases it may not be ideal to optimize for such long keywords, when it comes to voice search longer words are more effective. 

As already mentioned, The conversational tone and spin that voice search facilitates these longer searches, and in turn, is absolutely something you need to pay attention to.  People aren’t searching things like “Water leak” with their voice, rather, “What do I do if my water is leaking”.  If you need help optimizing your articles with longer keyphrases, don’t hesitate to reach out to 23e2 Digital Marketing!

Snippet optimization is something that often does not get the attention it needs from business owners and people who run a website.  These snippets are essential when we look at optimizing for voice search.  A featured snippet on google is a section of text, video, photo, or graph from a third party website that aims to answer the searchers question.  These featured snippets are the content read out by not only google assistant, but by other smart home assistants as well.  The cool thing about snippet optimization is, even if you don’t rank number one on Google, you can still become the featured snippet with your quality content.

What is included from the original website in the feature snippet?:
  • Information from the website relating to the query
  • The title of the article/page referenced
  • A link to the page with URL

Google’s featured snippets are chosen from all the web search listings.  The actual listing and snippet is chosen based on automated criteria.  This criteria has the ability to determine if the snippet is readable, condensed enough, and has enough information to be featured.  Read more about snippet optimization.

Finally, rather than looking at redoing your entire site that you have already optimized for single keywords without voice search, just fine tune your existing site.  Just because you didn’t count on voice search when you made your site doesn’t mean you can’t alter little things now!  All of the mentioned optimization tools are relatively simple to implement and can take your site to the next level.  Don’t think you can just alter it and go though, you have to tweak your site once in a while to ensure it is up to date.

Voice Search Optimization Strategies

Obtaining the information about how to optimize your site for voice search, it is time to share a few tips and tricks that make optimization easier. Keeping these methods in the back of your mind when writing will make optimizing web pages much easier.

1) Don’t focus on the keywords as much as the information

Of course keywords are important, but what is more important is the information shared in the article. Having 100 keywords won’t help you rank if the information is not important, impactful, and informative to the readers.

2) Include questions in your articles

Use questions in your writing, and then answer them. That way you are using all the key questions, and providing complete answers to those questions. This will help you rank higher in conversational searches.

3) Add faq pages

Add a section of your post, article, or website and dedicate it to Frequently asked questions. This way your readers have a bog section to go to and the search engine algorithm has a place to look for answers to the questions people ask.

4) Use filler words

Using filler words will help you rank higher due to the flow of your questions.  You will also rank higher in questions with the words “a”, “me” and “for”.  What is a filler word?  A filler word is a word within a question that is neither the keyword, or a question word.  Take even the question “What is a filler word”, the filler word in that is “A”.  In a question such as “Why can’t I close the door”, “I” and “the” are the filler words.

5) Simple language

Keep the language in your articles understandable. Don’t try to add big fancy words to a non academic or scholarly article. Ranking on the first page of search engines isn’t like a highschool or university class, higher language difficulty will not get you better results. Try writing at a 9th grade reading level or even lower, this will allow the voice assistants, and search engine algorithms to comprehend your word structure easier.

6) Improve site speed

Improving the speed on your site will give you a leg up on the competition when it comes to voice search. Voice assistants are fast in nature, only taking half a second to spit out information. If your site cannot keep up with that, you will get left behind in voice search queries. Don’t worry if your site can’t yet, most of the websites on the internet average over 2 seconds load time. Work on cutting that time to allow for an advantage on your competition.

7) Domain authority

Having domain authority is big when it comes to voice search.  A voice assistant would much rather give users information form a credible and reputable site, than from a site that is more focused on aesthetics.  Adding to that, the authority of the page also matters less than the domain authority.  While this sounds complex, what it comes down to is how reputable your domain is as an entity.  If you want to check your domain authority, you can check it for free here.

8) Rank for near me

Optimizing your business for local traffic is critical in the voice search era. More and more people are using the “____ Near me” function on their phones to find places to eat, things to do, stores to shop in, and service providers locally. Optimizing for this really comes down to being able to be found on the map. Putting yourself out there, gaining credibility as a company, business or organization will help you with rank in the voice search “_____ near me” results.

9) Add a short summary at the top of each page

Adding a summary at the top of the page will give google something to look at first. This summary will come in handy when people ask voice assistants about your topic. Your summary should give a complete yet concise description of the topic.

Conclusion

To conclude, the popularity and mainstream use of voice search is continuing to grow each and every day.  As a business that wants to survive, you have to keep up with the times.  That means understanding, adapting, and applying new optimization features to your business model.  Hopefully with this guide, you have been able to learn about what voice search is through numbers, examples, and maybe even trying out the feature on your devices.  You will also have learned how voice search is impacting modern search engine optimization, by introducing new normal searches and snippets.  Thirdly, you have read about how you can optimize your site for voice search, along with insider tips and tricks when it comes to the ins and outs of optimization.

If you have any further questions yourself about optimizing your site for voice search, or if you need help with implementing new strategies, Let us know.  Fill out a form and we will reach out to you as soon as possible to discuss what we can do to take your business to the next level.  

Ready to start your new project but have a few questions? We are here to discuss.