These days, more people are using voice search than ever before. In fact, about one-fifth of the search queries on Google today are voice-based. Most people have access to or own at least one voice search-capable device, whether it be a smartphone with voice assist or an independent voice device like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Either way, experts predict that voice search is here to stay—which means it’s time to get your SEO on-board if you want to take full advantage of search query optimization.
The Compelling Case for Voice Search Optimization
To put things in perspective and help you see just how prevalent voice search is becoming, consider the following statistics:
- 1.7 million voice-enable devices were shipped in 2015
- 6.5 million were shipped in 2016
- 24.5 million were shipped in 2017
In fact, as of 2018, an estimated 47. 3 million United States adults have access to some form of “smart speaker.” This accounts for about 20% of the country’s adult population.
With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why writing for voice search is becoming so important from an SEO standpoint.
Characteristics of Voice Search Queries
Before you can begin successfully optimizing your site and its content for voice search, it’s important to understand the differences between traditional typed search queries and voice search queries.
1. They Tend To Be Longer
Perhaps the most telling difference between a traditional search query and a voice search query is the length. When people search using voice instead of text, they tend to use longer and more conversational phrases. For example, when looking up the hours for a local restaurant, their search may sound something like “Hey Google, what time does The Star Diner in Dallas open today?” If they were searching for the same information via typing, the query may look more like “Dallas Star Diner hours.”
Specifically, voice searches tend to be closer to seven or more words in length, compared to just 1-3 words for text search. Voice searches are also more likely to contain question phrases, such as “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why.”
2.They Are Often Localized
More people are also using voice search for local content. This makes sense, especially considering that more people are using the voice search features on their smartphones while on-the-go—and that Google offers a convenient “near me” feature that encourages people to explore their local areas.
3. They Are Time-Sensitive
Think about the last time you used voice search. More than likely, the information you were looking for was time-sensitive. You needed it quickly. This is the case with most voice search queries, which is why having the information readily available and easy for the search engines to grab is so important. If a search user doesn’t find exactly what they’re looking for immediately, they are likely to move on to another site.
In many cases, users won’t even click on a website link after performing a voice search. They’ll expect to get the information they need directly from the search engine results page.
“Hey Google, Give Me Google Voice Search Tips.”
Now that you have a better understanding of why optimizing for SEO voice search is so important, it’s time to get started. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can begin taking today to make your site more voice-search friendly. With all this in mind, you can also make sure that any content you create down the road is optimized for voice search.
Set Up a Google Business Listing
If you haven’t done so already, it is imperative that you set up a Google My Business listing. If you’ve already claimed your listing but never did anything with it, now is the time to get it up-to-date. Having your My Business listing set up is so important for voice search optimization because, once again, people are using voice searches to find local information. When you have your My Business listing set up and filled out, you’ll have a better chance of being discovered by people using that “near me” feature on Google Maps.
As part of your listing, make sure that you fill out as much information as possible and consider uploading some high-quality photos of your establishment as well.
Research and Target Conversational Keywords
When it comes to writing for voice search, make sure you’re focusing on long-tail and conversational keywords. Think about the kinds of questions people may be asking about your business or the related industry and target those within your content. This will require some detailed keyword research on your part, but your efforts will pay off in the long run.
It’s also worth considering that there is a relatively untapped market for these longer-tail keywords in paid search ads, so if you’ve been on-the-fence about paying for ads in the past, now may be the time to give it a shop. Ads for long-tail keywords tend to be significantly cheaper than those for short keyword phrases, and they can be just as effective in today’s search query environment.
Set Up a “Frequently Asked Questions” Page
One of the best ways to include long-tail voice search keywords in your content naturally is to create “frequently asked questions” content. This will allow you to incorporate long-tail search keywords directly into your content without awkward phrasing. Consider adding some FAQ pages to your existing site content, or take the time to publish the occasional blog on recent frequently asked questions. Not only will these be legitimately useful to your readers, but your SEO will benefit as well. It’s a win-win for everyone!
What About Other Search Engines?
It’s no secret that Google isn’t the only player in the voice search game. Apple has Siri and Amazon has Alexa. Windows has Cortana, which uses the Bing search engine to find information by default. With all this in mind, should you really be focusing your SEO efforts on Google, or would you be better served to optimize across all search platforms?
The answer may surprise you. While it’s true that different voice-search devices utilize different search engines and platforms, Google is still expected to be the most commonly used search engine for many years to come. Therefore, putting effort into optimizing for any other platforms is likely to be a waste of your time and resources. In fact, you could even end up sabotaging your efforts by going this route. Focus on optimizing for Google and you’ll be well served in the long run.
The Bottom Line
Voice search is here to stay. In fact, it’s likely to become even more popular in the coming years. With this in mind, having your site and its content optimized for voice search queries is a must if you want to remain a competitor within your industry. When optimizing for voice search, keep a few tips in mind:
- Focus on long-tail, conversational keywords
- Claim your Google My Business listing and keep it updated
- Take advantage of “Frequently Asked Questions” content
- Stick with Google
By following these basic tips and staying up-to-date on changes in voice-search trends, you’ll be in great shape. And if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all this talk about voice search optimization, maybe it’s time to reach out for a little help. At Ballantine, we specialize in digital marketing—with SEO being one of our areas of expertise. We’d be happy to help you take your voice search optimization to the next level. Contact us today to find out more about what we can do for you!
I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!