According to Comscore, by 2020, 50% of searches will be conducted using voice search. What exactly is voice search? Voice search allows people to use their voice to query a search engine via their phone or digital assistant. In recent years, voice search growth has increased exponentially with the introduction of smart speaker devices including the Google Home, Amazon Echo, and other home assistants. The growing popularity of these devices means that voice search is no longer just a fancy gadget feature, but that it has been integrated into our lives as a way to improve the convenience of daily tasks.
Ranking on the first page of search results on a search engine is difficult, but with voice search, it is even more so as only three results show for mobile and just one result shows for smart speakers. Due to this small window of opportunity, ranking at the top means everything. Here are 5 tips to help you optimize your website for voice search.
1. Monitor Your Page Speed
The benefit of using voice search on your phone is receiving immediate results as you’re on the go. People using voice search expect their answer quickly. Therefore, voice search results load at a 52% faster rate than average pages. Google has understood the importance of giving users quick answers, which is why page speed is now considered in mobile search ranking. This means that page speed is important as it influences whether or not your website will appear in the voice search results.
The average mobile landing page loads in about 15 seconds whilst the optimal time is under 3 seconds. If your website is not ranking well on mobile search because of page speed issues, then it may also result in a negative affect on your voice search rankings. In order to ensure that your website speed is optimal, first you must analyze your website at its current speed. Google has come out with tools, such as PageSpeed Insights and Test My Site, which can help you with this. These tools will tell you what your site’s current loading time is, what the optimal speed is, and how you can improve to make it faster.
- Consider Voice Search When Choosing Keywords
41% of people using voice search say that it is like talking to a friend. If people are asking their digital assistants questions as if they were speaking to a human, then your keywords need to change to accommodate this. Try changing your content to contain more natural, conversational keyword phrases that your target audience is more likely to use. To help you brainstorm, tools like Answer the Public can help you see what kind of questions people are asking in relation to your original keywords. Google’s “People Also Ask” tool can also be useful to see what kinds of questions people are asking in relation to a specific topic.
- Structure Your Site to Make the Customer Journey Easier
A great way to optimize your content for voice search is to map out the customer journey. This will allow you to identify any questions that the customer may ask along the way that could be answered using voice search.
Here’s an example of steps that a customer may go through when considering which home assistant to purchase:
Awareness: What is a home assistant?
Consideration: What are the benefits of using a digital assistant?
Purchase Intent: Which digital assistant is more user friendly, the Amazon Echo or the Google Home?
Decision: Where can I buy a Google Home?
Retention: What other products support the Google Assistant?
Advocacy: Can I sign up to get newsletter updates on new features for the Google Assistant?
When creating content on your website, make sure that any frequently asked questions are addressed and that your content is clear and easy to read.
- Mobile Friendly Is Voice Friendly
A majority of voice searches happen on mobile devices. Recent algorithm updates for search engines show that websites that are mobile friendly will rank higher in the search results. If you are already optimizing your website with a mobile-first mentality, then your website will also be better suited for voice search rankings.
One way to make your website mobile friendly is to use structured data to make your content easier to read and more relevant for voice search results. Page speed, as mentioned before, is also important in ranking highly in search results. To assist you with this, Google has developed Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which will help you to lower your load time for your website and receive mobile search prioritization. Finally, because many of the searches on mobile devices are location based, such as queries about local business hours and services, tailoring your content to be relevant to your location will help you to rank higher. You can do this by developing your content to answer relevant location-based queries.
- Don’t Forget About Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are snippets from your website that are featured directly in a search result. Google will pull the most relevant content on your page and call it out in a box on the search results page. Featured snippets are especially important in relation to voice search as the content in the featured snippet box is what digital assistants will actually read aloud in response to a voice query. Up to 30% of Google queries contain featured snippets, which means if your content isn’t good enough to be featured, then you’re lowering your chances of the digital assistant picking your website to answer the user’s query.
Voice search has begun to be used widely and will continue to grow in popularity. While there are many clear benefits of voice search, as this technology continues to develop, more advantages will also arise. If you have already taken voice search optimization into account in your SEO, then your content visibility is already at an advantage to those that have not.
Voice search is just at its beginnings, and it isn’t going anywhere. These 5 voice search optimization tips will help you prepare your business to remain a leader in search engine rankings.