How to Optimize Your Site for Voice Search: 9 Effective SEO Strategies
“Hey Siri, what is the time?” “Alexa, play a song.” “Hey Google, what is the weather today?” These are just some of the voice search commands we use daily to get information from our smart phones and smart speakers.
Voice search is growing in the US. The use of voice assistants increased during the Covid-19 pandemic as more people stayed home.
With the growth in voice queries, businesses need to optimize their websites and SEO strategies for voice search to remain competitive.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search is a method of online search which allows users to use spoken voice commands, instead of typed queries, to search the internet for information.
Voice search queries use voice-enabled devices such as smartphones and smart speakers.
Is Voice Search Popular?
According to Google, 55% of teens and 41% of adults are using voice search more than once a day.
Voice search is getting more popular because it is convenient and easy to use. Most people find it easier to speak a phrase into a device than to type a query into a keyboard.
The use of voice assistants and smart speakers increased during the Covid-19 pandemic as more people worked and attended school from their homes.
Here are a few statistics that shows how popular voice search has become:
• 132 million people in the US, or 39% of the population, will use a voice assistant at least monthly in 2021. This is an increase from 115 million in 2019. (emarketer)
• 55% of teens and 41% of adults are using voice search more than once a day (Google).
• 20% of mobile queries on Google are voice searches (Google).
• 70.6% of Americans who used a voice-enabled speaker once a month in 2017 used Amazon Echo (emarketer). 23.8% used Google Home.
• 75% of households will have at least one smart speaker by 2020 (Gartner)
The graph shows the number of users, in millions, that use voice assistants at least once a month in the US.
Who uses Voice Search?
Voice assistants are being used by US consumers in all age groups. It is very popular with millennials, but its use is increasing among children, teens and seniors.
Google found that 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search more than once a day.
What do People Use Voice Search For?
Voice Search is being used for common tasks more than once a day.
It is more convenient to speak a voice command to your smart phones and smart speakers instead of typing in search queries. It is also faster than typing.
Voice search is also great for mobile searches, since it is hands-free. It is estimated that it is used by 60% of mobile searchers.
People are increasingly using voice search to:
1. Get directions while driving
2. Make calls
3. Dictate text messages
4. Check the time
5. Play music
6. Multitask while watching TV, exercising and while cooking
7. Search for a business
8. Search for products or services
9. Make an online purchase
The graph shows the percentage of teens and adults that use voice assistants for daily tasks.
What Are the Most Popular Devices Used for Voice Search?
Smartphones and smart speakers are the most popular devices used for voice search. However, voice search is also increasing on wearables, smart home devices, smart TVs, cars and other connected devices.
Smartphones, smart speakers and virtual assistants used for Voice search include:
• Amazon Alexa and Amazon Echo
• Apple’s Siri (used on iPhone, Macs and Apple devices)
• Google Assistant and Google Home
• Samsung Bixby
• Microsoft Cortana
70.6% of Americans who used a voice-enabled speaker once a month in 2017 used Amazon Echo (emarketer). 23.8% used Google Home.
How Does Voice Search Work?
When you make a voice search query on your smart phone or smart speaker, your voice assistant will get the information from different sources including search engines and major websites. The search engine used varies depending on the voice assistant that is used for the search.
When you make a voice search query on your Google Assistant or Google Home, the information will be pulled from the Google search index, Google Maps or YouTube. These Google properties will be used to search the web for a response to your query and Google Assistant will respond with a verbal response. When Google reads a response, it will list the name of the website that the information was pulled from.
When you make a voice query on Amazon Alexa, Alexa gets information from the Microsoft Bing search engine, Bing webmaster tools and Bing properties and will respond with a verbal response. Amazon Alexa can be used to make purchases from Amazon.
Apple Siri is used for voice search on Apple iPhone, Macs and Apple watches. Apple uses Google to search the web and return search results. For local searches, Siri uses Apple Maps.
Microsoft Cortana uses the Microsoft Bing search engine to search for information to search queries.
Your website must be SEO-optimized for voice search to ensure that it ranks well on the search engines and provides information to respond to voice queries relating to your products and services.
9 Effective SEO Strategies To Optimize Your Website For Voice Search
Your website needs to be optimized for Voice search as part of your SEO strategy. This ensures that your website ranks well for relevant keywords when customers search using voice commands.
1. Improve Organic SEO Rankings
Most responses to voice search queries are obtained from the top ranking pages on search engines. Your website must rank in the top pages using organic SEO practices on Google and Microsoft Bing.
On-Page SEO optimization of your website helps to improve its search rankings. On-page SEO includes optimization of the following items on your website with relevant keywords:
• Optimization of meta tags including title tags and meta description tags
• Optimization of content and headings
• Optimization of image alt tags
• Internal and external links
2. Optimize for longer conversational queries
Voice search queries tend to be longer and more conversational than typed queries.
For voice optimization, optimize your website content for long-tail keywords and conversational phrases that are 40 to 50 characters long.
For example, instead of optimizing for a keyword such as “smart speakers”, optimize for a long phrase such as “Which smart speakers are popular today?”
3. Optimize for questions
Voice searches tend to be oriented around asking questions like Who, How, When, Where, Why, Which and What.
Common questions include What is the time? What is the weather?
Optimize your website content to answer questions that are relevant to your products and services. Answers should be short.
4. Optimize for local SEO and “Near Me” Searches
People use voice queries on mobile phones when they search for information near them. You should optimize your website content for local SEO and include your city and geographic information.
You should also optimize your content for “Near me” searches. Get listed in local directory listings like Apple Maps and Google Maps.
• 22% of voice queries are focused on finding local business information (Internet Trends Report 2016).
• 500% growth in “Near Me” mobile searches that contain the terms “can I buy” or “to buy” between 2015 and 2017 (Google).
5. Optimize your Business Profiles in Google My Business and Bing Places
Your business listings in Google My Business and Bing Places For Business are important for local voice searches and to improve your local SEO rankings.
Google and Bing will use the business information listed in Google My Business and Bing Place listings for local searches. Ensure that your business information is up to date with the correct name, address, phone number, business hours, products and services.
6. Optimize for featured snippets
For voice queries, your website must be optimized for featured snippets.
In fact, featured snippets are used as responses for 40% of voice search queries on Google.
Featured snippets are the short answers to search queries that are featured on top of the organic search results and below the paid search ads. They are also called “position zero”.
Most featured snippets are drawn from the top 10 search results on the page. To be featured in “position zero”, you should optimize your content and your website must rank on page 1 for the search query.
To optimize your content for featured snippets, answer questions directly. Use customer questions as H2 headings and follow that with a short, one paragraph answer.
The image shows a featured snippet that was pulled from my business website for a local search.
7. Use structured data
Since voice queries are in the form of questions, you should optimize your website with structured data. Structured data, or schema markup, on your website helps search engines to better understand your content and use them for the search results. Search engines use structured data to determine SEO rankings.
You can use FAQ and HowTo schema to optimize your content for questions related to your products or services.
8. Your Website Must be Mobile-Friendly with Responsive Design
Since most online searches today are made on mobile devices, including a large number of voice searches, your website must be mobile friendly with responsive web design. A mobile-friendly website will perform well and will be easy to read on mobile devices. It will provide a great user experience to mobile users.
A website that is Responsive will scale in size to fit the size of the mobile phone, laptop or desktop that the customer is using to browse your website. Responsive web design ensures that all the information is available and is easy to use on all devices.
9. Your Website Must Have Fast Page Speed
A fast website speed is important for voice searches since they are made using mobile devices. Having a fast loading web page is important for SEO.
53% of mobile site visitors will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load (Google).
For your web page to load fast, make sure your images are small and compressed. You will also need to use page speed optimization techniques.
Search is changing and voice search is becoming more mainstream. People are finding that it is more convenient and quicker to search using a voice command then to type out a query.
It is estimated that 39% of the US population will use voice assistants at least once a month in 2021. That is a large percentage and it is expected to grow.
Your website must be optimized for voice search to improve your search rankings for voice queries. Voice search should be part of your SEO strategy. This will ensure that your website provides a great user experience to customers who search using voice queries, and your brand remains competitive. Get started today!
1. emarketer, Voice assistant and Smart Speaker Users 2020
2. WordStream, 33 Voice Search Statistics to Prepare you for the Voice Search Revolution
3. Google, OMG! Mobile Voice Survey reveals teens love to talk
4. Microsoft, 2019 Voice Report: Customer Adoption of Voice Technology and Digital Assistants
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