Optimising Your Site for Voice Search
While the majority of website traffic still comes from traditional search engine queries, voice search is gaining popularity. And if you haven’t optimised your site for voice search, you may be missing out on a lot of business opportunities.
Voice search is everywhere – part of the reason it’s become so popular is that almost every smartphone has voice recognition software. The technology is in a huge range of devices, so it’s incredibly easy to access.
Voice search is a method of searching the internet through speech recognition software. You can use devices like Google Assistant, Alexa, Amazon Echo, as well as your phone to submit a query through a search engine.
While voice recognition technology has been around for many years, it’s only in the last decade or so that it’s become more advanced and more widespread. Smart speaker sales reached an all time high in 2020, and it’s been estimated that 55% of households will own such a device by 2022.
How is Voice Search Different from Search Engine Queries?
The main difference between typing a query into a search engine and using voice search is tone. When you type a question into Google, you’re likely to use specific keywords. For instance, if you’re looking for a local restaurant, you might enter the search term ‘restaurants near me’. But if you were using voice search, you may say something like ‘where can I go out for dinner tonight?’ The language is more conversational, so the technology has to be good at semantics.
All this means that when you write for SEO, you can’t just stuff keywords into your articles. There has been a shift to prioritising user experience instead. This isn’t just down to evolving voice recognition technology – Google’s 2021 Page Experience update demonstrates the importance of focusing on the user – but voice search has certainly played a part in the new trend.
Optimising your site for voice search doesn’t have to mean including lots of audio content, though that’s not a bad idea if it will appeal to your audience! You can follow the same SEO strategy you’re currently using, just with a few small differences.
Do bear in mind though that a lot of voice activated technology, such as Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri, use Bing as the default search engine. So you can’t just optimise for Google with voice search, you need to do it across the board.
1. Tailor Your Content
One of the most important things with any online search, regardless of whether it’s made via desktop or voice activated software, is relevancy. Your content has to be amongst the most relevant, in order to be presented to a user. And to appeal to the widest audience, you need to consider what different groups of people want to discover.
In other words, it may not be enough just to answer common questions – you might also need to explore variations on a theme, so that everyone can find the answer they’re looking for. This could mean creating video content, infographics, or maybe podcasts, alongside your written copy.
2. Use Schema Markup
If you’re not already familiar with Schema Markup, now is the time to get to grips with it! You can use Schema Markup to let search engines like Google know what your website is about. Essentially, you can add this type of microdata to your HTML, and give some context to your site content.
Schema Markup should help you rank better in any type of search, voice search included. It makes it easier for Google and other search engines to know when your content is relevant to specific queries.
3. Local Searches
According to Search Engine Watch, voice searches are three times more likely to be local searches than a written query. Generally speaking, this is because people are looking for an immediate answer with voice search – they don’t want to spend ages researching.
There’s a good chance that you’ll already be focusing on local searches in your SEO strategy, especially if you mainly cater to a local audience. The main principles of local SEO are including lots of content relevant to your locality, and integrating local keywords into your written copy. It’s also sensible to create a Google My Business account, so that search engines know where you’re based.
4. Answer Questions
When people use voice search, they tend to start their queries with words like ‘what’, ‘where’ ‘why’ and ‘how’. In order to answer these questions, it’s a good idea to create a FAQ page, which addresses common questions in a conversational tone. You should also try and use the specific questions likely to be asked, which you can find by using traditional keyword research. One great way to find popular search terms is to start typing a question into Google, and then seeing what the suggested searches are.
A frequently asked questions page is something you should probably be including on your website even if you’re not optimising for voice search, as it will boost your rankings in general. FAQ pages are useful for SEO, as they show that you’re answering customer queries. And if your answer is incredibly informative and well written, it may even become a featured snippet on Google.
A popular strategy that is employed by a lot of content creators is to use a common question as the headline for a page, and then immediately after this, provide a concise answer or definition. You can then expand on this initial answer throughout the rest of the article.
Overall, the techniques you implement to optimise for voice search should not only help you reach a wider audience, they should also improve your SEO. Many of the strategies listed above will be things you’re working on already, as they’ll help increase your traffic and sales.