Voice search is becoming more popular than ever, thanks to smartphones and home devices. In fact, a 2017 study by Comscore estimated that half of all online searches would be voice-based in 2020. The rise in voice searches means that, as a direct-to-consumer (D2C) company, making sure your website is optimized for voice searches is critical.
Why Voice Search?
Now, you might be thinking that typical SEO tactics are enough to help you rank for voice searches. However, there are several differences between how people search when they’re typing versus when they’re talking.
We ask longer questions. When using a voice assistant to search for the nearest restaurant or know whether a particular store is open, our searches are longer than the ones we type. For example, if you wanted to compare two products and were typing, you’d probably search “product A vs. product B.” On the other hand, if you were using a Google Home or Echo, you’d probably ask, “is product A better than product B?”
Local results matter. BrightLocal surveyed U.S. smartphone users in 2018 and found that 56% searched for local businesses using voice search. Often, using a voice assistant to search online will add “near me” to their query, so they only receive results in their local area. This means that it may be time to invest in your business’s local SEO, if necessary, so you’re not missing out on these highly targeted searches.
We only receive one answer. While typical searches bring up many results for a particular query, voice searches are only given one answer. In Google, this is usually the Featured Snippet, and typically a sentence or two that answers the person’s query. Appearing in the Featured Snippet can be difficult, depending on your industry, but following good SEO practices can help. See the section below for more information.
Going mobile matters even more. We carry our smartphones with us everywhere, whether it’s to the store or at our job. Voice assistants are widespread as well; most smartphones equipped with voice assistant technology and are more commonly used for voice searches. This makes mobile optimization critical for your business if you want to remain relevant online in 2020.
How to Make Sure You’re Ready for Voice Searches
As more and more of your customers begin to use smart speakers and voice assistants, being ready and optimized for voice searches will become more important. By taking the time to ensure you’re ahead of this trend, you’ll be able to improve your customer experience and drive voice-based searches to your website.
Optimize for mobile devices
When it comes to mobile search, Google is the central place to be since it accounts for 95% of searches. Because Google has adopted a mobile-first indexing method, mobile optimization is critical to ranking high. However, developing a mobile-friendly website will also improve your appearance as a modern and relevant brand to your customers and prospects.
Speed is a significant ranking factor in mobile searches. Google estimates that 53% of website visits are ended if a page takes more than three seconds to load. Use Google’s Test My Site tool to assess your site’s current load time.
Designing your website to appear consistent on all types of devices is essential, too. While this applies more to web development and can get pretty technical, there are many guides available online to help you get started.
Aim for the Featured Snippet
Google is continuously adjusting its algorithm and the appearance of search results to provide better results, and one of its most popular features is the Featured Snippet. Hubspot found that content appearing in the Featured Snippet received twice the amount of click as other types of results.
Here are three tips to help you appear in the Featured Snippet:
- Research competitor snippet results and write similar content.
- Answer questions as directly as possible.
- Write informative and valuable content for your audience.
Target long-tail searches
Keyword research is a great place to start for any serious SEO effort. Long-tail keywords are highly specific queries we use to find particular information. As mentioned earlier, voice searches are more conversational than other searches, so targeting them with direct responses will boost your SEO. Neil Patel received 172,336 leads just by using a long-tail keyword strategy.
To find long-tail keywords, use Answer The Public, a free tool that aggregates common questions about keywords. This is a great way to get an idea of the questions and concerns customers have that are relevant to your target keyword. It’s best to answer questions directly, so you rank for longer queries in voice search results
Invest in local SEO
As said previously, local search results are key to finding and keeping your customers. Although there are many aspects of local SEO to consider, here are some tips on getting started:
- Create a Google My Business profile.
- List your business on profiles like Yelp, FourSquare, and others.
- Ask customers for reviews on Google or another popular platform.
- Make sure the content of your website is optimized for local searches.
- Start a blog and create valuable content for your customers.
Be Ready for Voice Search in 2020
As SEO changes and shifts with technological advances, keeping pace is critical to staying ahead of your competitors and remaining relevant for your customers. Showing up when customers search for your products using Siri or their Google Home isn’t easy, but it’s possible. By following the tips in this article, you’ll be that much closer to creating a better experience for your customers.
Jaime is Head of Content Strategy at AdRoll, a division of NextRoll, Inc. She has 12 years' experience in content, social, and partner marketing, spanning from scrappy startups to the global enterprise. Jaime loves crafting content that actually gets used by customers and goes to bed dreaming about how content can change the world. An avid tennis player and Champagne Martini enthusiast, Jaime spends most of her spare time being the #1 dog mom to her chiweenie.