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7 min read

Make Your Voice Heard: Using SEO To Stand Out in Voice Search

Is your brand ready for the voice search revolution? 

According to Statista, it’s estimated that around 66.3 million homes in the U.S. have at least one smart speaker. Smart speakers and personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant have become firmly integrated into everyday life, changing the way people use search engines. 

In the ever-changing digital world, you may be wondering how your brand’s presence online will fare amidst these changes. Do you need to completely overhaul your existing SEO efforts, make a handful of adjustments, or leave them as is? If you have worked hard to climb up the SEO rankings, the good news is that you can capture this audience with just a few optimizations.

Understanding the Differences Between Voice and Text-Based Searches

When using a text-based search to find information on their favorite book, users generally type in something like, “To Kill a Mockingbird author.” However, if they’re asking a digital companion, that query would be more similar to, “Who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird?” If you want to increase your chance of appearing in the top results in both types of search, including both kinds of language in your webpage’s copy is crucial. 

Another thing to keep in mind? When someone conducts a text-based search, they can scroll through pages and pages of results. On the other hand, a voice assistant will only read the top result, and if that’s not you, your brand won’t cross the user’s mind.

How Voice Queries Are Shaping Semantic Search

Semantic search seeks to provide a contextual understanding of search terms — something that’s easy for humans to understand but marks a huge leap forward for computers. Unlike users who are typing in their questions, those who use voice search are more likely to ask a series of questions regarding the same subject. Something like “Who plays Will in Stranger Things?” may be followed up with “How old is he?” rather than “How old is Noah Schnapp?” 

Semantic search happens when the search engine can realize who the “he” in this example is and provide relevant results.

As voice queries grow increasingly more prevalent, search engines are growing more sophisticated at discerning user intent. While this functionality doesn’t imply huge changes for SEOs, it’s worth noting that the way we’re using search engines — and what we expect from them — is changing rapidly.

OK Google, how do I make my website voice-search friendly? 

There are many similarities between optimizing for voice search and text-based SEO, so here’s how you can make sure your website is ready for the ever-growing voice search audience. 

  • Write copy in a conversational tone. This helps you reach the people that are asking questions in full sentences. 
  • Make sure your website loads quickly on mobile. Sites that load quickly have higher SEO rankings. 
  • Double-check that your Google My Business listing is accurate. This is the source answers come from when users ask about your business’s hours and locations.
  • Bid on long-tail keywords. Since voice searches tend to be longer than text searches, you might gain more impressions using longer keywords. 
  • Use Schema Markup to improve your overall search engine optimization. Add snippets into your site’s HTML so the search engines can get a better idea of the content on your page.
  • Aim to be the featured snippet. This is the paragraph that Google pulls from one source when you ask a question in a text search, and it’s what your digital buddy will read out loud to you when you use voice search.

How do you keep up as more people begin to utilize the voice search capabilities on their phones and home assistants? You have to meet them where they are, which means ramping up your SEO efforts. Taking the time now to increase your visibility on search engines will reward you down the line with more impressions and, hopefully, more conversions. Now, all there’s left to do is say, “Hey Siri, put an SEO brainstorm on my calendar for tomorrow.” 

Sources:

WordStream | OK, Google: How Do I Optimize My Site for Voice Search?

WordStream | 33 Voice Search Statistics to Prepare You for the Voice Search Revolution

WordStream | 4 SEO Survival Tips for the Voice Search Revolution

Forbes | Why Voice Search Will Dominate SEO In 2019 -- And How You Can Capitalize On It

Search Engine Journal | Voice Search Optimization: 6 Big Changes You’ll Need to Make

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