Lately there’s been a lot of talk about voice search. From the worldwide launch last year of Google Home and relatedly, the 400 million devices that now have Google Assistant, to the “tens of millions” of Amazon’s Echo and other Alexa-devices sold and the explosion of other voice assistant technology (Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, etc.), optimizing for conversationally driven search is increasingly important. If the 2017 holidays were any indication with nearly 40% of shoppers using virtual assistants to buy gifts, now’s the time to get your site organized and optimized for voice search.
The good news is that adjusting your website, SEO and marketing strategies to speak to this growing trend will have implications beyond voice search. Google delivers accurate results because, according to Moz, it’s based on semantic search and is, “an algorithm seeking conversation.”
In other words, the search engine listens when people talk -- and wants to be sure that your website provides answers with quality, accurate, easily understood information.
Here are four ways to optimize your site for voice search and today’s shopper:
Use long-tail keywords: Google and other search engines are driven to deliver results to people the way that they ask for them, taking intent and context into consideration. This makes it even more critical for you to include long-tail keywords, which are highly searchable phrases that clearly demonstrate a user’s intent. In fact, Microsoft has found that voice queries tend to be longer than those typed. For example, “President’s Day discount new iPhone 8” is a long-tail keyword that tells you the user is looking to take advantage of President’s Day sales and buy a new iPhone 8. Someone searching for “iPhone 8,” on the other hand, may be looking for other things, such as the latest information about the device, troubleshooting strategies, etc.
Optimize for mobile: Voice search and mobile devices are a natural fit. It’s much simpler to talk into your phone to get a quick answer than it is to type on a tiny screen or stop to tap away when you’re driving or otherwise on the go. Already 20% of mobile queries are done by voice, and that number will continue to grow to a predicted 50% in just a couple of years. And it’s no secret that Google is moving toward mobile-first indexing in 2018, making it even more crucial that your site is mobile friendly. Take action to verify the mobile version of your site, avoid Flash, minimize load time and check to be sure each page on your site is mobile ready.
Use structured data: Make it easier for search engines to scan and understand your site’s content by using structured data. Go to Schema.org for a full listing of standardized formats that serves up your website page’s information and classification in a way that’s easy for Google to digest.
The top rule of SEO stands: Create valuable content that speaks to your readers’ challenges and addresses their pain points. In the Google Search Quality Ratings Guidelines, Google notes that “lack of purpose pages should be rated lowest quality.” To avoid this, integrate popular questions and meaningful answers -- from short and sweet to detailed and rich -- into your content. Take it one step further and read what you write out loud. If it makes sense, then Google’s voice recognition software will get it, too, especially since it’s now about equivalent to humans’ ability to understand language.
It’s clear that voice search is not all talk; now’s the time to start taking action. Not only will you be rewarded with better results for voice queries, but it’ll give your SEO a boost for today’s “conversation-seeing” algorithms and the users they -- and you -- are aiming to engage.
Search Engine Journal: “5 Ways Voice Search Changed in 2017 & How to Prepare for 2018”
Search Engine Watch: “Mobile-first indexing in 2018: 3 things SEO professionals should do right now”