September 7, 2022
Posted by: DevDigital
Consumers had several ways to find businesses online, and then voice search came along. Smartphones and, now, smart speakers let people ask questions without typing a question or a few keywords. This conceptually simple and powerful tool offers new opportunities to be found by potential customers. This is why optimizing for voice search might need to be part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. To do that, you need to understand the basics of what voice search is and how people use it differently from regular search.
A Quick Introduction to Voice Search
In theory, any business could come up in a voice search. In practice, it looks like the vast majority of voice searches concern local businesses. A research firm called BrightLocal found a few years ago that cafes/restaurants, grocery stores, places with takeout service, clothing stores, and hotels were the most searched for types of local businesses. The most common reason for doing a local voice search is to get an address and contact information for a local business.
Most of the answers to voice searches will come from a knowledge panel or a featured snippet. So, if you know how to get your information in a featured snippet or knowledge panel, you have a better chance of showing up in the relevant voice searches. The fact that you may only get to hear a featured snippet, voice search differs from regular search in a few important ways.
How Voice Search Differs from Search Engine Queries
The biggest difference lies in how people search for information. Using a search engine, we tend to use words or phrases that capture the essence of what we need to know. Sometimes we’ll phrase our search in the form of a question: “Where can I buy vinyl records in Nashville?” or “vinyl records Nashville” in a regular search query. Someone who uses voice search to find that information might ask that first question or something similar – “Where can I buy vinyl records near me?”
A search engine results page might return a few ads along with a few search results on page one. A voice search will only deliver one result, which your phone or smart speaker reads to you. The result will, logically enough, be the one that seems to offer the best answer to your question. How does Google know if Page X has a better answer than Page Y or Page Z? Only a handful of people at Google could really answer that question, but search engine marketing experts do have a general idea of how the rankings work. Featured snippets are hard to get, but there are plenty of things you can control.
Optimizing Your Site for Voice Searches
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to write content that helps people by offering plenty of information. If you can’t write long-form (over 2000 words) blog posts and web pages on your business or industry, consider creating a FAQ page. If you come up with a dozen questions and answer them you might have something that helps your odds of Google selecting your content as the answer to a voice search query. If you end up having lots of information to share, that document can add to your site’s perceived value too.
Someone asks about accountants in their city and Google, Siri, or Alexa will read your answer and mention your site. Write for regular people, not experts, and not for search engines. In other words, pick a few important keywords and use them sparingly in your blog post or web page. Unless your target customer is savvy about electrical engineering or surgical procedures, use non-technical language to explain a subject or answer questions in your FAQ.
SEO Tactics That Can Help
Complete your Google Business Profile if you haven’t done so. Check it periodically to make sure your hours and contact information are still accurate. Make sure anything recent or new and noteworthy goes in a post. This is probably the first information someone will see if they look for a local business like yours. Here are some additional SEO tips that also help optimize your site for voice search:
Implementing those SEO tips will help make your site easier to find through regular searches and spoken queries but implementing the steps can be challenging.
Voice Search Can Be a Vital Part of Your Digital Marketing
Voice search is a powerful tool for consumers, which potentially makes it valuable to business owners who know how to optimize their sites. Whether your business is brick-and-mortar, online-only, or a hybrid model, voice search matters, but it is only one aspect of SEO. If you would like to get some expert help with your SEO, DevDigital has a highly experienced digital marketing team that can help. Contact us to set up a short call.