If you haven’t started optimising your content for voice search, now is the time to do so. Research continues to show that voice search is on the rise. Thrive Analytics, for example, found that over 70% of 18 to 29-year-old smartphone users utilise their voice-activated personal assistants. In fact, nearly 40% of smartphone users aged over 54 use their phone’s voice recognition technology, meaning all businesses, regardless of their target market, need to embrace the new era of voice search.
Before we dive in, it’s worth pointing out that optimising your content for voice search requires work. There’s no easy way around it. However, given the fact that voice search is expected to continue rising in popularity for the foreseeable future, putting the work in now could pay dividends.
To understand why voice search is so important, we should enlighten you on exactly what this new phenomenon is and how it’s being used. Then, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to optimise your web content for voice search in 2018.
What Is Voice Search?
Voice recognition technology has actually been around for quite some time, but in recent years, the sophistication of this technology has improved in leaps and bounds, which is why it’s becoming increasingly popular. Rather than exert physical effort on typing in a search query, users can simply speak a query to a voice-activated device – whether it’s a phone or a product such as Google Home – and view the results in a matter of seconds.
In fact, when you use your voice to search for information, the search engines will often read the answer aloud so that you don’t even have to click through to a webpage. We’ll explain why that information is so crucial when we discuss our top voice search optimisation strategies later in this article.
The reason why voice search is improving so quickly is that it can learn by itself. In simple terms – Google, among other voice recognition technology developers, has programmed its technology to study different accents, semantics, tonalities and much, much more. As a result, every time you speak to your phone, voice recognition technology improves, even if ever so slightly.
Who Uses Voice Search?
The short answer is everybody, though the younger generations are leading the way. The study that we mentioned earlier published by Thrive Analytics found that, at some point or another, 71% of Americans aged between 18 and 29 use their smartphone’s voice recognition technology. So do 59% of 30 to 43-year-olds, 39% of 44 to 53-year-olds and 38% of people aged over 54. Clearly, even though millennials seem to utilise voice search more frequently than any other age group, the technology is catching on with all demographics.
When and Where Do People Use Voice Search?
As you might expect, many people utilise voice search while on the go, which makes sense given that no typing whatsoever is required. However, people also use voice search when hanging out with friends, exercising, watching TV and using the bathroom.
According to the same study by Thrive Analytics, 41% of people aged between 18 and 29 reported that they primarily use voice search while at home, compared to 29% who reported using it mostly while on the go. People aged between 30 and 53 utilise voice recognition technology just as much on the go as they do at home. People aged over 54, however, primarily use their voices to find information while on the go. In each age group studied, around 30% of people claimed to mostly use their voice-activated personal assistants while driving, allowing them to focus their concentration on the road ahead.
How Do People Use Voice Search?
When using a desktop or mobile device to search for information using their keyboards or keypads, most people tend to stick to short phrases, using as little effort as possible. However, when using their voice, searchers tend to vocalise complete phrases or sentences. For example, if you’re searching for a delicious pizza in Sydney, you might use your keyboard to type “best pizza Sydney.” However, if you were to utilise voice search instead, you’d probably say something like “where can I find the best pizza in Sydney?” or “which takeaway delivers the best pizza in Sydney?”
Actually, what you might instead say is something along the lines of “where’s the best pizza near me?” Google can use your precise location to find the closest takeaways with the best reviews, which means you may get more relevant results by saying “near me” rather than a specific location. That could be why, according to Google, searches containing the phrase “near me” have increased by 130% year on year.
Effective Ways to Optimise Your Website for Voice Search
Now that you know how, when and why people utilise voice search, you can start to think about how to optimise your site for this increasingly popular technology. Here are six of our most effective strategies:
Find out what questions people are asking
As we’ve discussed, many people ask complete questions when utilising voice search, making it essential for you to find out what questions people are actually asking. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a tool such as Answer the Public. First, find keywords that you’d like to target in the same way as you’ve always carried out keyword research. This will allow you to find out what terms people use to find your products or services.
After you’ve found the keywords you’d like to target, type each one into the Answer the Public tool to find a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions related to them. While many businesses simply answer these questions on an FAQ page, we’d recommend creating a blog post to answer each one.
Strategically insert the phrase ‘near me’ into your content
While ‘exact match keywords’ are becoming less important (according to many SEO specialists), they still have a place in the modern world of SEO. So, given that the term ‘near me’ is being increasingly incorporated into search phrases, you might want to insert it into your content, especially in your title tags, internal links, anchor text and meta descriptions. Also, think of phrases that people use to describe the area around your location. Including those in your content makes ‘near me’ results more relevant.
Create content with an aim to reach ‘position zero’
Because Google often reads aloud answers to questions, you need to optimise your content to reach position zero, which refers to the results found in rich snippets. There is no guaranteed way to make sure your content reaches this position, but you can increase the chances by concisely answering questions near the top of your content before going into further detail in the body of the text.
Register with Google My Business
A significant portion of voice searches relate to local businesses, making it a good idea to let Google know exactly who you are and what you do, which you can achieve by claiming your Google My Business listing. You may also want to include any important business details in the footer of your website in simple text format. By taking these steps, much of your company’s information could end up in Google’s rich snippet results, such as your opening hours, contact details and product offering. Make sure that all the information you provide to Google is accurate.
Take advantage of structured data
Schema Markup, or as it’s also commonly known, structured data, is a clever way to provide the search engines with information about your content. For example, you can use snippets of code to tell Google your contact details, or that a certain section of content is a customer review. By structuring your data, you boost the chances of getting crucial information displayed directly on Google’s search engine results pages.
Optimise your website for mobile devices
People often use their voice to search for information using their mobile device, which is why you need to make sure your website is optimised for phones and tablets, especially given the recent mobile-first indexing update. Try to use short and simple sentences that don’t intimate readers. Additionally, make sure there is plenty of white space between paragraphs (which should also be kept short) so that your webpages don’t look too ‘busy.’
In terms of technical SEO, it’s a good idea to optimise your website’s loading speed because, when people utilise voice search, they want results almost instantaneously. Therefore, if Google can’t access your content quickly enough, you won’t have much chance of earning the top spots.
Learn More about Optimising Your Website for Voice Search
Here at Smart Traffic, we remain on top of the latest SEO developments so that you can optimise your website without having to lift a finger. If you’d like to know more about voice search or how we can take a time-consuming task off your hands, then don’t hesitate to contact us on 02 8205 3133.
About the author
A specialist in Google Ads, and with a wide range of SEO skills and experience, Michael has a particular interest in Local SEO strategies for small to medium sized businesses. When Michael is not working hard increasing conversions for clients Paid Advertising campaigns he enjoys traveling, dining out and watching Formula 1 and football.