As we’ve covered before in previous articles, the way Google ranks search results is always changing. However, another factor that all websites need to take into consideration is that the way people search for things is also changing.
There’s perhaps no better example of this than with voice search. While voice search may have seemed like a novelty at first, over the past few years it’s become more and more important – particularly with the rise of smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. In fact, as much as 55% of people admit to using voice search to ask questions on their phone.
Voice search offers people the ability to search for things in situations where using their phone in a traditional manner isn’t possible. For example, if they’re driving or cooking.
If you’re not currently taking voice search into consideration when it comes to your site’s SEO, then you could be missing out on a lot of potential traffic. That 55% is only likely to grow in the years to come; voice search is no longer a novelty and, increasingly, it’s simply becoming the norm for most people.
So, what steps can you take to make sure your website is ready for the upcoming voice search revolution?
Focus on longtail keywords
The way people use voice search and the way they search traditionally is vastly different. If you’re Googling a query by hand, it’s likely that you’ll try to use as few words as possible. Typing, you might write “coffee shop nearby”, whereas for voice search, you might say, “Where is the nearest coffee shop to me?”
Another example: typing, you may write “patrick stewart age”, whereas for voice search, you’re more likely to say something along the lines of, “How old is Patrick Stewart?”
Understanding the difference between these two styles of search is essential if you want to rank highly for voice searches. If you’re trying to rank highly for a particular question, it’s important to think of the different ways that people might ask certain questions and determine the key words and phrases in each of these. Place yourself in your audience’s shoes: how might you ask that question yourself?
Though we’ve referenced this above, it’s worth reiterating again: make sure you’re producing content that’s optimised to match how people are searching.
When people use voice search, it’s overwhelmingly in a way that’s structured as a question. Because of this, you need to make sure your content is designed to answer specific queries. One key way to do this is to implement FAQ schema, which helps signal to Google which questions your content is answering. This will help it more easily connect your page up to the queries you’re interested in ranking for.
SERP features are key
As reported by SEMrush, 70% of all answers provided by Google Voice Search are taken from SERP features – in particular, rich snippets.
SERP features should be a key focus for any SEO strategy, and they can be a fantastic way of standing out against your competitor. Though as this statistic highlights, they can be even more essential when it comes to voice queries.
When people search, they’re interested in fast results. By making use of these SERP features, Google can deliver quick answers and relevant snippets easily when people use voice search. SEMrush highlights that the average voice search answer length is about 41 characters across all devices.
So, if you already have a foothold in the SERP features for the terms you’re targeting, then you may have already won half the battle.
Local queries are much more common
As we’ve stressed already, the way that people search traditionally and through voice is not a direct one-to-one. There are several key differences, and many people are only likely to search for certain queries through voice.
For example, local queries are incredibly common for voice search. This again relates to the immediacy people expect from it. It’s important that you factor this into the longtail keywords you choose to target. In addition to regional and location-specific terms – such as the name of a specific town or neighbourhood – you also need to consider phrases such as ‘near me’ and ‘nearby’.
While it may seem overwhelming at first, optimising for voice search isn’t as intimidating as it seems. Follow these tips and you should be on your way.