Should Voice Search Be Part of Your SEO Strategy in 2020?
Should voice search be part of your SEO strategy? That is a question facing many business owners in 2020. Searching the internet used to require firing up your computer, hopping onto Google (or Alta Vista back in the day), and typing in your request. With the advent of smartphones, you basically had to do the same thing but on a much smaller screen.
But with the invention of voice-activated virtual assistants like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri, searching the internet has become as easy as speaking. We’re basically living in The Jetsons, except without the robot housekeeper (unless you count the Roomba).
But does that make optimizing your online presence for voice search necessary for most businesses? Let’s look at voice search, what it is, and how it can benefit your business.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search is where a person uses their voice via a device such as a phone or home assistant to search the Internet. Mostly, instead of typing a query, the person will simply say it out loud into the device for the search engines to recognize.
“Hey Siri, what’s the nearest dry cleaner?”
“Alexa, is there a great sushi restaurant nearby?”
“Okay Google, where can I get a haircut?”
With the introduction of assistants and smart speakers such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s new HomePod, voice search growth statistics have skyrocketed. Such products are becoming increasingly popular, which means voice search is on the rise too. The simplicity and convenience of voice search also suggest that it’s here to stay.
Is Voice Search Essential for My Business?
Voice search has evolved over recent years. Just as 2020 seemed like lightyears away, so did voice search, but now both are here. Voice assistants such as Siri makes it easy to get answers quickly, from finding places to eat to the nearest grocery store. There is no denying the convenience of voice search.
And as regular users embrace this new technology to make their lives easier, marketers are also embracing it as part of their comprehensive digital marketing strategies. With the way voice search is evolving, it wouldn’t be wise to deny its place in the marketing world. So, if you’re implementing an SEO strategy into your business, it’s time to add this new search strategy.
How Does Voice Search Work?
Voice methods allow users to use a voice command to search the Internet, specific website, or app on their mobile device or computer. The inbuilt speech recognition technology in the devices enables them to understand what we are saying with high accuracy.
Instead of typing our search requests into Google, we are now merely talking into devices like phones and home assistants and getting instant answers. Our phones will usually display a relevant website or answer. In contrast, smart speakers are more likely to read the information back to you. But as these quick and fascinating voice search facts show, not every business will benefit from this technology.
The Difference Between Voice and Traditional Search
Generally, people speak differently to how they write. This difference means the search terms will be different depending on how someone searches. As a result, your content needs to be optimized both for traditional means and voice means. You must implement voice optimization to respond to the new trend for voice commands.
The Basic Differences:
The Length of the Search Query
When we type a search query, we will usually use short keyword phrases such as “digital marketing benefits.” With voice search, we are more likely to use long-tail keywords and phrases such as “what are the benefits of digital marketing for my business?”
Your SEO strategy needs to reflect both short keyword phrases and long-tail keywords and phrases to maximize your results. As a rule, voice searches are about 75% longer than text-based searches.
More Questions than Statements
We are more likely to use voice search to ask a question, whereas when we use text, we usually use around 3-5 words in a statement format.
After you optimize for long-tail keywords, you will likely target a more niche section of your industry. However, the intent is powerful. The benefit of this is that you know your content is relevant to their needs.
Increase in Local Search
We are three times more likely to use voice for local queries and location-specific searches.
Why Should You Use Voice Search?
While the digital world continually evolves, the staying power of Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Home shows no signs of slowing down. Therefore voice-optimization must be part of your digital marketing strategy. Our devices are so essential to our daily lives that it makes voice searches more crucial than ever with the increasing adoption rate of all demographics.
That alone should convince you to implement voice search into your strategy. Optimizing your site for voice will improve user experience – that’s a big tick from Google. And because Google aims to give its visitors the best experience possible, it is placing a higher emphasis on websites with voice search optimization. Put simply, sites optimized for voice search are ranking higher in the search results.
How Do You Optimize for Voice Search?
Voice optimization and regular SEO are similar. The most significant difference is something that I have already mentioned; the length and format of the search query. But the end goal is always to deliver the best result to the user based on relevancy and location. There are a few differences to consider.
Focus on Page Load Speed
While page speed can generally impact your SEO, your website must load in less than 3 seconds when optimizing for voice search. Most people doing a voice search are using a mobile device. A significant ranking factor for mobile is page speed. Users want and expect information quickly. Follow these practices for optimizing your page load speed.
Write Conversational Content
As we have already mentioned a couple of times, the most significant difference between voice search and traditional search is the wording. For example, when people type a search query, they may write something like, “best sushi Sendai.” However, when they use voice search, it will likely be more conversational. Therefore, the search term will be longer and look more like this, “What are the best sushi restaurants in Sendai?”
Your content needs to reflect this by using long-tail keywords. And remember that most users will ask a question so lean toward questions rather than simple phrases. You might be surprised to learn that the average voice search result is 29 words, so go for gold when you’re optimizing your content.
Focus on Featured Snippets
Featured snippets, also known as position zero or answer boxes, are the summary answer from a web page that appears just after paid ads but before organic search results. They provide easy-to-read and reliable, informative solutions. And more importantly, digital assistants like Siri or Google Assistant read them out loud when asked questions.
Featured snippets have a significant impact on voice search, which means it’s a good idea to optimize your content to garner more snippets. Optimizing for a featured snippet is also like optimizing for voice search. Instead of just implementing keywords into your content, you aim to try and answer your users’ most frequently asked questions.
You must break your content into short sentences and paragraphs with no more than 40 to 50 words. Google will also pick up H1-H6 title tags and bullet points when delivering voice search results, so keep that in mind when creating your content.
Focusing on local search, especially if you have a brick and mortar business, can vastly improve your voice search results. More than 22% of voice search queries are people looking for location-based answers to questions such as, “What are the best restaurants near me?” If you invest in local content like this, you are more likely to rank higher in the results. For best results, use phrases like, “by me,” “near me,” “close to me,” “in [my location],” or words of a similar nature.
How to Optimize for Local Search?
Firstly, you need to claim your Google My Business and update your local listing to ensure it is accurate and consistent across all platforms. As we have established, most voice search queries are location-based. If someone searches “best restaurants near me,” you need to show up in the results as Google will instantly track the user’s location and make suggestions for relevant nearby places.
The words “near me” is a keyword that is universal and one you should always keep in mind when optimizing for voice search. These two words will be picked up by Google’s voice search algorithms if you have a listing on Google My Business.
Your profile needs to include your name, email, or address, and phone number so that users’ can find you and contact you. By making this information available, you are helping with ranking your site with Google in the local search world. Your goal is to be in Google’s Local 3-Pack.
Does Every Business Need Voice Search?
The only way to know if your business will benefit from voice search optimization is to try it out yourself. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You will also see how you fare against your competition and get a better understanding of long-tail keywords.
Voice search offers you another marketing tool, which is always a good thing. If you can get ahead of your competition, you will reap the benefits down the line.
By optimizing your site for voice, you are also giving your users a better search experience, which Google will reward. Keeping in mind key factors like website speed, featured snippets, local-based questions, and a conversational tone, will ensure you see the results you want.
With voice search showing no signs of slowing down, it’s a great time to get the ball rolling with your voice SEO. It’s only a matter of time before voice search devices are a staple in every household. We witnessed mobile phones become an everyday necessity. With that in mind, there will inevitably be significant changes in search linguistics.
If you are a local business owner, you must consider implementing voice SEO content into your marketing strategy sooner rather than later.
Here are a few tips for implementing a voice-optimized search strategy:
- Analyze the keywords that are currently effective in bringing people to your site then turn them into long-tail keyword questions.
- Evaluate your website to ensure you are delivering the best possible user experience (including the quality of your content).
- Create fresh and relevant content that includes long-tail keyword phrases.
- Create an FAQ page, where you’ll be able to capture long-tail keywords in a natural tone.
It is essential to optimize your website for regular search. But keeping up-to-date with emerging trends is extremely important if you want to maintain good SERP rankings and stay ahead of your competitors. For local businesses, voice search should be the norm as the return is far higher than the investment in time and money.
Yes, Voice Search Must Become Part of Your SEO Strategy!
The principal purpose of your website is to enable potentially interested customers to find and purchase your products or services. If your customers are using voice search to see what they are looking for, then you need to optimize for voice as well. Maybe you should look into updating your website content and content strategy, and stay ahead of the SEO curve!
Voice search is fast becoming a part of everyday life for the majority, which means it’s a great idea to make it part of your marketing efforts. Keeping up to date with the right information and implementing voice SEO will ensure you’re one step ahead of the competition and that you maintain your Google ranking. It may mean investing some time and optimizing old content, but the outcome will be worth it.
As a society, we are busy and generally impatient, and modern consumers are becoming ever more sophisticated and demanding. Voice search is quick, easy, and extraordinarily convenient, so it’s not hard to see why it’s infiltrating our lives. Take the steps now to a voice-optimized website and prepare your business for the digital evolution.
We Can Help You Get a Voice-Optimized Website!
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of mobile-first business website design and SEO consulting services, including mobile-first web design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, and business website hosting and maintenance.
Feel free to reach out to us and learn more about our mobile-first website design and search optimization services. Our team will listen to your concerns and evaluate your needs. We will help you optimize your website and incorporate voice into your search strategy.
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