Voice search is here to stay, and will only continue to get bigger.
More and more people are using exclusively their mobile devices to browse the internet and more of these people are adapting to use voice search in their daily activities. It is expected that by the end of 2020, 30% of all online activities will be done solely by voice (screenless).
With that being said, below we will discuss four of the most effective tactics to optimize your website for voice SEO, starting with the first one.
According to a late 2019 study by Brafton, close to 50% of all voice search results or answers are pulled from a Featured Snippet.
Meaning, if we can get our page featured as a rich snippet, we’ll get a higher chance to be featured as a voice search answer. Although there are many different factors that might determine whether our site can be featured as a rich snippet, the most important prerequisite for your page to be eligible as featured snippet is to implement structured data (schema.org) markup
Structured data markup is essentially assigning properties and attributes on your site’s elements so Google can understand all the different kinds of information and can properly classify and organize your content.
You can use Google’s structured data testing tool to check whether schema markups are properly implemented on your pages. You can, for example, assign structured data attributes for information about the address, directions, contact information, and operational hours to ensure Google can classify this information.
This way, even if your page isn’t featured as a rich snippet, Google can properly pull any information that might be used as an answer for voice queries. You might also want to submit a detailed XML sitemap to help with this purpose, and also check your robots.txt file whether your structured data pages are blocked or not indexed properly.
In short, assigning structured data markups can let Google properly recognize and classify various elements on your site to use as a featured snippet or voice search answer. Here are Google’s guidelines on how to properly implement schema markup on your site.
If you are a local business targeting a local audience (for example, a restaurant), then probably your main objective in executing voice SEO is to get ranked when your audience asks local queries like “restaurants in LA”, including near me voice queries (“restaurants near me”).
With that being said, these kinds of voice queries will feature results from Google Maps as the answer, and so your main objective here is to rank on these Google Maps results for your specific location.
To be more specific, Google only features the top 3 results of Google Maps before users need to click “more places”. So, your goal is to rank on these top-3 spots, or what we call the “local 3-pack”.
In general, there are three main things we can do for our business to get ranked on the Google Maps 3-pack:
- Claim, verify and optimize your Google My Business listing. Make sure to include complete, specific, and up-to-date information. You don’t really need to include local keywords (just do it naturally). Focus on providing relevant information for the human audience.
- Choosing the right business category is very important, remember that it’s about what your business is, and not what the business does or what you sell
- Make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information is 100% correct and up-to-date
- Don’t forget to verify your business listing. Google will mainly verify your business by sending a postcard containing a verification PIN to your address.
- Get more local citations by listing your business on online local directories according to your location and niche.
- Encourage more positive reviews both on your Goog Maps/Google My Business and third-party sites
Voice search is, by nature, more conversational than a traditional search, and so we will need to take a different approach re-think how we will structure our content.
When people search for something using a voice query, they tend to use different, more conversational language than when they type in Google. For example, when we type, we might use a query like “bookstore near me”, but if we use voice, we tend to say something like “what is the nearest bookstore?” or similar questions.
So, the main idea here is to list potential questions that might be asked by your target audience, and the potential words that might be used when they talk about your brand. You can then develop content to answer each of these questions.
You can create a dedicated FAQ page for this purpose, but if time and resource allow, develop specific content to target each question. Also, you can leverage and re-optimize the existing content.
It’s no secret that most of voice search activities happen on smartphones and mobile devices (nowadays, also smart speakers and home assistants). So, it’s fairly obvious that your site has to be mobile-friendly and/or mobile responsive.
Google themselves recommend a mobile-responsive design, and if your site is WordPress based—which most of us do—, then you can simply update your site to a mobile-responsive template. There are many affordable and even free mobile-responsive templates available for this purpose.
First and foremost, however, you can use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool to check whether your site is currently mobile-friendly. If not, then Google will offer suggestions on specific steps you can take.
Make sure you are using big enough fonts that are easy enough to read in any mobile device, and if you include forms, make sure all the fields are easily readable and clickable and don’t include too many fields.
Also, make sure your site has an optimized loading speed. According to Google themselves, more than half os users will leave a website when it loads in more than 3 seconds. Again, you can use Google’s Pagespeed Insights to check your site’s current speed performance. If a lot of people bounce from your site, you simply won’t be recommended as a voice search result, period.
The idea is to keep your visitors for as long as possible on your site.
The future of voice search is admittedly, still unpredictable, and probably the only thing we can be sure of is that the number of people who are actively using voice queries are and will continue to grow in 2020 and onwards.
Thus, optimizing for voice SEO is simply a win-win investment, or else we are simply missing out on a huge chunk of the potential market that might be captured via voice search optimization.
The four tactics we have discussed above are the most effective to ensure our site can get featured as voice search answers, and it’s definitely the right time to jump on the voice SEO ship to ensure competitive advantage.
Name: Mike Khorev
Bio: Mike Khorev is a digital marketing and SEO expert who helps SaaS, Software, IT, Technology, B2B and enterprise companies generate more leads and sales and grow revenue online. He offers expert advice on marketing your company the right way through performance-based SEO, web design, social media, search engine marketing and many other online practices.