Who has the ability to research a purchase by first searching thousands of websites, reviewing prices and features, and analyzing reviews to determine the best products or services, all in the span of a couple of seconds without looking at a computer screen? Over 40 million Americans.
With the help of voice-activated products, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, and more, consumers are increasingly using voice search engines to aid in their purchase decisions. By 2020 it is estimated that 50% of all online searches will be voice searches.
This shift in the way consumers are searching and shopping online is something that marketers and business owners cannot ignore. By taking notice of this trend early and making simple changes now, businesses can take full advantage of voice search.
We have identified three key ways companies can optimize their site’s SEO for voice searches to rank highly by Google:
- Improve technical SEO through the use of schema, quality fixes, and architectural changes.
- Write content on the website in the manner in which you would talk. This should particularly be applied to the page’s header tags.
- Include a featured 29-word block of content to summarize your page content to Google to appear in the search results.
What Exactly Is Voice Searching?
Voice searching allows users to speak directly to a device to get results from a search engine. This eliminates the need to manually type keywords and inspect top sites.
Instead, consumers are making the research process much more natural. For example, by asking Alexa a question, such as “Who are good plumbers near me?”, after finding a leak in their pipes, a list of the top five plumbers in your area is generated. This is a much quicker and easier way to search for services and products needed, all without the need to surf the internet.
Search topics can range from a variety of subjects – weather, recipes, restaurants near me, etc. However, most voice search questions pertaining to purchasing a product or service relate to local business.
It was found by BrightLocal that 75% of smart-speaker owners research local businesses at least once a week. Of these searches, the most often searched local industries are food, entertainment, medical, and service. The reason for searching is mainly to book a reservation or appointment, discover price and selection, reserve a product, or buy directly from a business.
While local businesses may see the biggest effect from the rise in voice searches, this does not mean other national companies and brands should discount the impact this can have on business. It was found that during the busiest season for retailers, winter holiday shopping, 1 in 4 shoppers used voice assistants during their shopping in 2017.
The voice search trend is fast growing and not expected to slow anytime soon. It is starting to impact businesses now and will have an even larger effect in the future. It is estimated that by 2022, voice commerce sales will total $40 billion. If aware of this now, businesses can properly optimize their website to get the greatest benefit from this technology.
How to Optimize SEO for Voice Search?
By 2020, it is predicted that 30% of all online searches will be done without a screen. It is important to realize the impact that voice searching will create on a website’s SEO strategy to be ranked highly by search engines. Below details, the top three SEO fixes a company can make.
- Optimize Technical SEO: It is especially important to maintain high-quality technical SEO. This allows search engines to successfully access, crawl, and index your site. To improve this, and be more easily found by Google when looking to answer voice search questions, ensure that your website has:
- Mobile-friendly content
- Fast page speed
- High trust
- HTTPS website connection
- Strong site architecture
- High-quality schema
- Increase Local Signals
HTTPS websites account for 70.4% of Google’s voice search results. Securing your website this way is key to being included in the results.
Having a strong, clear site architecture is key to appearing more clearly to Google’s spiders when they are indexing. This means your pages get both indexed and ranked faster. Ensure you have: HTML and XML sitemaps, siloed or categorized content, and no crawl errors.
Quality schema is also very important to appear higher on voice search results. Schema is used to enhance the presence of your site in search engine results through markups, traditionally this allows for extra detail to be displayed on Google’s search results page. How information is marked up influences how Google understands your site’s content. Thus, stronger schema makes it easier for your site to be recognized. Things such as FAQPage schema, Question schema, and HowTo schema are great examples of improving a site’s markup structure. These schemas revolve around questions a user may ask, which are the most likely voice search queries.
(As a side note, there is a new schema aptly named “Speakable” and is currently being beta tested for sites that provide news. We have been monitoring the beta test and cannot wait to get the opportunity to utilize it.)
When a user is talking to a device, Google is looking through its index to find the right answer to the question. This is the same index that is driving traditional search. Because of this, Google still looks at all the traditional technical SEO signals to understand your site and its content when answering a voice search.
- Write Content the Way You Speak: This is an example of how on-page SEO can be optimized. Websites can be better performing for voice searches by writing literature on your site in the way you speak. In doing so, your site’s word content is better optimized for the questions users ask aloud. Google will try to find where that question exists within its database, and will more likely point to your site if it works to answer the question. Changes to on-page writing which can be implemented:
- Write in the same tone you speak
- Include longer phrases instead of short keywords, which would work to answer possible questions of which your site is the answer
- Keep phrases succinct and to the point
- Include locally based words (“near me”, “Atlanta area”, etc.)
- Use phrases that people ask in questions (“Why we are the best…”)
Local companies, which can benefit immensely from voice searches, should be sure to include these phrases to appear in the results of a user asking a local business question. Additionally, by writing content in the manner people speak or are likely to ask questions, you can ensure Google will recognize and pick your site as the answer to a user’s voice search question.
- Include Blocks of Content: Google returns an average result of about 29 words per site for its voice search results. To guarantee that Google can easily summarize your site’s content, a 29 word featured summary of the site should be provided. If properly optimized, this featured snippet, which appears between paid ads and the regular search list, ensures that Google has a correct answer to its user’s question relating to your site. What your summary should consist of:
- 29 words long
- A short summary of your main content
- Easy to read content – written at the 9th-grade level
- H-tags, lists, and bullet points
- Long-tail keywords
By creating an easy to read summary for Google, you are controlling how your site is summarized. Competitors who do not have this block are being randomly summarized by Google, which does not ensure an accurate representation of the site.
Why Is Optimizing for Voice Search Important to Business?
In 2018, it was found that there was an average of 1 billion voice searches each month. If your site’s SEO is not being properly optimized, your business could be missing out on potential sales and a large volume of traffic.
While it is not guaranteed your site will be visited after ranking highly on a voice search, there is a possibility you could benefit from an increase in traffic as users can manually click on your site’s link if choosing to access the written dictation of the search listings.
Overall, there has proven to be a positive trend in voice search volume through new voice-activated products. With strong predictions of this technology’s continued growth, there is a clear need for businesses to invest in their website’s SEO to better optimize for voice search.
On-page SEO needs to be altered so that word choice includes long-tail keywords written in a way that you speak. A 29 word summarized block of content should also be added to the site to be easily recognized and summarized by Google in search results. Technical SEO also needs to be focused on so that Google can better read and understand your site’s content.
These changes, however, do not signal a complete divestment in traditional SEO. It entails focusing more on technical SEO to be found and ranked better by Google. This will help your site rank higher for voice search results as well as traditional web engine search.
Voice search is trending to be the new way consumers purchase and research goods and services. By realizing this trend early, your company can gain a competitive edge by improving your site’s content to rank higher when being found through a voice-activated search engine.