OK Google, How Do I Optimize for Voice Search?

Voice searches are starting to seriously dominate the marketplace. In fact, 40% of adults use voice search at least once a day (and comScore estimates 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020)! In other words, if you’re not optimizing for voice searches, then you’re potentially missing out on nearly half of all possible traffic to your website! That’s not exactly good for business.

Okay, we’ve established (rather quickly) that optimization for voice searches is important. But that begs the question: how do you do it? Let’s break it down.

Step 1 – Pick One (Or Several) Voice Search Enabled Ecosystem To Optimize For

How you optimize for voice search performance depends (heavily) on which digital assistant marketplace you choose. To help you make a selection, here’s a quick breakdown of the most popular digital voice assistants and an estimate of the number of enabled devices each one has:

  • Google Assistant: 500 Million
  • Amazon Alexa: 100 Million
  • Apple Siri: 500 Million (however, fewer people use Siri for search than Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant users)
  • Others: There are other digital assistance devices out there, but they aren’t as focused on search (notably Microsoft Cortana and Samsung Bixby). There is no way (currently) to optimize for those ecosystems. However, we felt they were still worth a mention.

Step 2 – Get Your Local Business Listed Online (if you are a local business)

After you’ve selected your desired voice search ecosystem, it’s time to get your local business listed online. Smartphones and other smart devices show business listings before traditional organic search results. What that means is that if your business listing is nonexistent or outdated, then you won’t show up in the first results for searches on those types of devices.

Don’t just add your business to one search engine’s ecosystem, either. Instead of focusing on Google alone, make sure you upload accurate information regarding your business to places like Bing as well. If you don’t want to do all this yourself, you can either hire one of our SEO professionals or use an external tool to help reduce your time spent (like Synup).

Step 3 – Get Your Conventional SEO as Optimized as Possible

Just because you’ve decided to start optimizing for voice search doesn’t mean you should forgo your efforts to optimize your search performance through conventional on-page SEO. In fact, you should make sure your website ticks all the SEO boxes before you begin trying to optimize your business for voice search. Sure, lots of people use voice commands to surf the web these days, but the majority of users still use more traditional text-based searches.

Here are the areas of conventional SEO we recommend you focus on:

  • Quality Content: Content is still the king of the SEO world. Always make sure you create authoritative, factual, high-quality content that provides your site visitors with the type of information they’re looking for.
  • Optimize Meta Titles and Descriptions: Always make sure you set relevant and custom meta titles and descriptions for every page and post on your website. Remember, these are the first things your customers will see whenever they search for your business online. That’s right. First impressions still matter on the internet.
  • Page Load Speed: People have extremely short attention spans these days. So, naturally, the faster any given page on your site loads, the less likely you are to lose a potential customer!
  • Schema and Structured Data: We’ve already covered how to use schema and structured data markup for SEO in another post. So, we’re not going to get into it here. If you’d like to read all about how to wrangle your schema and structured data, head on over to our post found here.

If you have issues getting your standard SEO in tow, then our team of SEO experts is always standing by to give you a helping hand.

Step 4 – Use Long-Tail Keywords

In the past, SEO professionals typically focused on short-tail keywords like “California plumber” or “nearby plumbers.” We focused on short-tail keywords because of how people did text-based searches on search engines. People often used short-tail keywords to save time and effort when searching (it takes longer to type more words). However, since people often speak faster than they type, long-tail keywords are taking over the voice search marketplace.

What are long-tail keywords, you ask? Well, long-tail keywords are keywords with several non-keyword words woven within. Okay, that probably confused you more than it clarified anything. To make things easier, here are some examples of long-tail keywords:

  • Find a drain cleaning plumber near me
  • California hydro-jetting plumbers close by

Do you see how those longer keywords more accurately matched the way someone would phrase those querries to another human being? That’s what we mean by long-tail keywords. They’re simply keywords that more closely match the patterns of typical human speech. Thanks to voice search, it’s now important to make sure your website is optimized for those types of queries.

Step 5 – Ask and Answer Questions Within Your Content

Some of the most popular types of voice search queries are those that involve direct questions. For example, a voice search user may search using a phrase like: “When should I call a plumber?” Typically, a voice search engine would spit back the answer to that question (assuming one existed). The best way to help make your site the one that provides a voice search answer is actually to ask and answer the question within your own content. In fact, search engines often pull voice search answers directly from frequently asked questions and answer pages (FAQs)!

Okay, now you know that you should be asking and answering questions within your content. However, there are some things to keep in mind when doing so.

For one, search engines give only one answer per query. So, your answer needs to be incredibly useful and 100% factually correct.

Additionally, you should make sure that your answer is brief. However, that doesn’t mean that your content should be short or incomplete (it should be just the opposite, really). Keep your overall content long-form, but make sure that your direct answers are no greater than thirty words. Otherwise, it’s far less likely that any particular search engine will grant you the always-coveted featured snippet spot.

Conclusions on Optimizing for Voice Search

In short, optimizing your website for voice search performance isn’t all that difficult or complex. However, it is a time-consuming process. You’ll need to make sure that your conventional on-page SEO is watertight while also optimizing for long-tail keywords and questions/answers. However, thanks to voice search taking over nearly 50% of the overall search marketplace, optimizing your site for voice search is definitely worth the time and effort required. If you’d like help getting your site as ready as possible for voice search, then you can always contact the SEO professionals here at Contractor Advertising! We’re always standing by to help!