Voice recognition, and especially voice search technology, has made some huge strides in the past few years. Search engines have also gotten better at recognizing human speech. Thanks to the emergence of digital assistants, such as Siri, Cortana, or Amazon Echo, for example, voice search has skyrocketed from 0% in 2015 to 20%. It is projected to make up 50% of all searches in 2020. And there is a good reason for that. Voice search is very convenient, because it allows users to do something else while giving voice commands at the same time. Also, it understands certain parts of human speech, such as informal pronouns, even better than text search.
According to research, over 55% of teenagers, and as much as 41% of adults rely on voice search regularly, and those numbers are set to grow. Even though it is still not perfect, it has been embraced unlike any other new technology, which means you should start optimizing your content for it as soon as possible. In order to help you do that, we have prepared a list of tips and tricks that will enable you to make your content voice search-friendly. Keep on reading.
#1: Optimized Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are essential, because that’s what users receive as an answer to their questions. According to statistics, almost one third of search queries on Google have a featured snippet, which makes them a priority. Whereas you were presented with a list of results in the case of text search, here you will be presented with only one answer in verbal form, and voice assistants will always read the contents of the snippet first. This means you need to work hard at crafting impeccable content, and doing all the SEO stuff right, such as meta descriptions and title, in order to secure that coveted spot inside the featured snippet.
#2: Use Long-Tail Keywords
Another key difference between text and voice search is the number of words provided by the user for the search engine. Your typical text search boils down to a keyword which usually contains two words. On the other hand, voice search requires a more detailed input of 3 words or more. Users which rely on voice search are usually looking for quick and very specific answers, as opposed to doing extensive research. This is where long-tail keywords come into play. They are much closer to natural and conversational speech we use every day. As SEO specialists, you will have a thankless job of optimizing your content which jumps right to the point, or hiring an expert from places like Upwork or MyMathDone. But, you also need to provide enough details, so that you don’t suffer when it comes to text search.
#3: Focus on Natural Language
As we have mentioned before, you need to provide voice searches with natural language in order to receive relevant results. If you are performing a text search in order to find the cheapest hotels in Barcelona, a keyword like “hotels Barcelona” is enough to point you in the direction of the most relevant result, Voice search users would ask a complete question, along the lines of “What are the cheapest hotels in Barcelona”. As you can see, questions are used a lot more often. Search Engine Watch also found that there was an increase of 61% year-after-year in the number of question phrases.
#4: Use Keywords Which Demonstrate Strong Intent
With voice search, your keywords need to show a much stronger intent. As shown in the example above, the phrase “hotels Barcelona” doesn’t really show what the users are actually intending to do. Sure, any marketer will realize instantly that they are probably looking to travel, so they will probably look for hotels, flight, or activities, and so on. But, the intent is still very, very broad, so it’s extremely difficult to optimize such content, as well as content inside ads. As a solution, instead of just keywords, research question phrases which are relevant to your business. In addition to this, you should also use negative keywords, which narrow down the scope even further. You can also research filler words which match your question phrases to boost your chances of having your result show up on a voice search.
#5: Provide Plenty of Microdata
This one is especially important if you are trying to optimize your content for local voice searches. For example, if they are looking for a particular type of restaurant in their area, you should provide microdata such as phone number, address, or a specific name. Having a well thought out sitemap will allow you to include all of this microdata in an optimal way. In addition to that, think about updating schema markup, so that search engines are able to match the right microdata with the user’s voice search. Search engines have gotten a lot smarter in the past few years, especially in terms of semantics. This means they can understand the context of searches, provided that they have access to optimal microdata.
#6: Use Trigger Words
You can increase your content’s chances of showing up inside voice searches by using trigger words. What are trigger words? More than one fifth of all featured snippets are triggered by only 25 words. The most popular trigger word, for example, is “how”. The reason why it’s so popular is because most people are looking for a solution or an answer online. Other popular trigger words are “best”, which means they are looking for the best solution, service, or product for their needs.
#7: Have a FAQ Page
Adverbs are extremely common in voice searches (who, where, when, what…). Another way in which you can you can utilize them would be to create a FAQ page. This would enable you to use them, while providing answers using a conversational tone and natural language, which is prioritized in voice searches. Your content will be far more likely to show up inside the featured snippet.
#8: Have a Mobile-Friendly Website
Most voice searches are done on mobile devices, which begs the question: why do I need a mobile website then? Well, you need it because Google likes to rank mobile-friendly website higher, and also because they are slowly switching toward the mobile-first indexing. In addition to that, in case the user hasn’t received all the necessary information via featured snippet, they will visit the website. You need to provide a good user experience in order to maintain that high ranking.
Even though only the content of the features snippet is displayed as a results of voice search, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into it. We hope that these tips and tricks will help you optimize your content for voice search and help you grow your business. Good luck!