In 2017, there were 33 million voice search devices in circulation, with 40% of adults using them every day. In fact, Google’s voice search tool received 35 times more search queries in 2016 compared to when it launched in 2008.
Now with Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana, any smartphone user can physically ask their phone a question. This has also extended to the home, with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home cropping up in houses across the world.
So, what does this mean for SEO? Here, we’ll take a look at four ways you can optimise your website to help you rank highly for voice searches.
1. Aim for Featured Snippets
Google Home and Google Assistant currently read out featured snippets when they answer voice search queries, so it makes sense that you aim for the elusive “position zero”.
Whilst there is no definitive answer as to how you gain that top spot, plenty of researchhas been undertaken to figure out how. The below works pretty well as a set of guidelines, and is worth bearing in mind when writing your content:
- Answer Specific Questions: Use Answer the Public to find common questions on your chosen subject, and use that as a basis to create your copy. Include the question as an H2, and answer it in the body text directly below.
- Answer Questions Concisely: You don’t want to use a load of jargon that people won’t understand. Google wants to feature the best answer, so make sure yours is clear and easily digestible. Answers in the form of lists have fared particularly well in featured snippets.
- Write Engaging and Interesting Copy: 99.58% of featured snippets come from a page that ranks in the top 10. It goes without saying you should already be ensuring your page is well-optimised: your content should be engaging, your meta data optimised, and your internal and external link building game strong.
Remember: voice search queries will be more conversational than written queries. Make sure this is reflected in your tone of voice, to help you climb the rankings.
2. Perfect Your Local SEO
39% of voice search users are looking for business information; so it’s never been a more important time to optimise your local SEO.
Ensure your Google My Business Page is up to date, with the correct address, contact details and opening hours listed.
After all, if a user is asking “where’s my nearest hairdresser”, you want to ensure you’re in the top position (provided of course, you’re actually a hairdresser!).
Similarly, if a user is asking what time your store shuts, you want to make sure the correct information is provided, otherwise they’ll be misinformed, and you could miss out on a sale.
Other ways to optimize for local searches include building your online reviews and using structured data markup (Schema).
3. Improve Your Site Speed
Voice search is almost exclusively used on mobile, and it goes without saying that your website should be mobile-optimised. If it’s not, then users will simply bounce back, which will harm your rankings. A page that takes five seconds to load is 90% more likely to suffer from bounce backs, compared to a page that loads in just one second.
Google found that bounce rates on mobile are 9.56% higher than on desktops. Mobile users – and especially those using voice search – are likely to be on-the-go, and won’t have time to hang about.
Not sure if your mobile website is up to scratch? Try out Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to see if it’s deemed acceptable.
From there, you can check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which will provide you with advice on how to make your mobile site faster.
4. Get Inside the Minds of Searchers
Google has mentioned that it’s looking at including voice search data in Search Console, with the idea being that these searches will be separated from keyboard queries, much like desktop and mobile search data is currently separated.
The issue with this – and why it hasn’t been implemented sooner – is because voice searches are naturally longer tail search queries, due to the conversational nature of speaking out loud. Therefore, the volume of each specific query is likely to be so low that Search Console automatically excludes them.
There hasn’t been a specific announcement or deadline set for this, but it’s certainly one to watch out for. Once launched, you’ll be able to see which voice search queries are driving traffic to your pages, enabling you to optimise your site and climb the rankings further.
In 2018, you really can’t afford to discount the power of voice search. The market is set to be worth $601 million by 2019; and if you don’t start to optimise your website now, you’ll be missing out on a lot of traffic in the long term.
Looking for more advanced tips? Check out BBG’s in-depth guide to optimizing for voice search.
About the author
Elle Pollicott is an Owned Media Executive at digital marketing agency Hallam Internet. She graduated from the University of Manchester with a BSc(Hons) in Management & Marketing of Fashion Textiles in July 2014. Elle has over three years’ experience in digital marketing, having worked in a range of industries including fashion, travel and finance.