Since 2014, the popularity of voice search has grown rapidly; more than 40% of adults and 55% of U.S. teenagers reported using it more than twice a day.
When Siri hit the market in October 2011, this technology was considered a novelty; today, together with Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa, they are all aiming to different extents to act as our virtual assistants.
Voice search proved to have some interesting and extremely useful applications and, by 2020, we expect to see half of all queries to be performed using voice search.
What this means for the online industry is that digital marketers will be concentrating their entire strategies around voice search.
Big industry names and experts have already started adapting to these changes, and to keep up with them, this article will give you the best tactics to optimize your web pages, or an entire website, for voice search.
1. Read the Official Guidelines
Although it might seem a bit trivial, reading the guides designed for an average iPhone, Android or Windows mobile device user will provide an insight into how they are taught to use voice search.
Later, you can take advantage of your findings and use these voice search-specific questions or phrases when you begin with the optimization of your website.
Remember: no matter how long you have been working in the industry and how far you’ve progressed, sometimes you have to go back to basics.
2. Define Which Search Engine You Are Optimizing For
Currently, Google dominates desktop and mobile search, but are we going to see Bing taking over voice search?
When iOS arrived in September 2013, Siri started using Bing as a default search engine. This meant that all iPhone users had to specifically ask to use Google. Cortana, as well, utilizes Bing, since it’s Windows.
Although it may seem that all goes in Bing’s favor, recent data tells a different story. According to IDC’s statistics, the 2016 worldwide Android market share equaled 83.7%, while the iOS share was only 15.3%.
Taking all of this into consideration, it is evident that Android devices, which are powered by Google, are still wining, meaning this search engine will likely dominate in the voice search world, alongside mobile and desktop.
3. Listen to the Way People Reference You When Speaking
When looking to optimize their pages for Google search, first step for most people is opening the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find out the exact number of searches for a particular keyword.
When it comes to voice search, there is no tool that will give you such a precise, instant answer; if you think about it, when people try to find you, your product or services, they are not going to say the same exact thing they would type into search bar.
For example, if you were running a restaurant, your potential customer will type “restaurants near me”, however, if they were to use voice search, they would probably say something like “where is the closest restaurant” or something alongside of that.
For this reason, when you are talking to your prospects, it is of utmost importance to listen to the way people reference you or your business.
Pay close attention to the exact words and phrases they are using, as they are probably going to opt for the same ones in voice search. Clearly, in voice search, the focus is on long-tail keywords (which are commonly five or four words).
If you are not in a direct contact with your customers via phone or in person, you may attend a local business networking event. There you can get a chance to describe your business in person, interact with others who will be asking you questions and paraphrasing what you said in terms they understand.
These phrases are precisely the terms your customers will be using in voice search, thus the ones you should optimize for.
4. Make Your Content Easily Scannable
As most voice searchers are on mobile devices, they are less tolerant of in-depth articles and lengthy guides. They will interact with content pieces which contain simple sentences and short paragraphs which provide to-the-point information.
Additionally, you should break large blocks of text with descriptive and informative headers, and whenever possible, illustrate your point with a good image.
The human brain processes pictures 60,000 times faster than words, so a compelling visual will provide a voice searcher with that instant solution they are in need of.
5. Optimize Your Website for Local Search
More people nowadays are looking for quick, local solutions to their individual requirements.
In the future, we are going to see many users on the go, using their mobile devices to voice search for businesses, products, or services in their area – which means you will have optimize your website to be more local-friendly.
The basic rule for local optimization includes putting all your basic information in the text format: business name, physical address, a phone number and directions from nearby and popular interstates or roadways.
6. Optimize for Mobile Devices
Haven’t you had enough of hearing this? Seeing how most voice searches occur on mobile devices and a large number of websites is still not mobile optimized, this cannot be stressed enough.
First, focus on setting up a responsive web design, but bear in mind that mobile is mostly about speed – with Google introducing AMP, users are now used to fast loading websites and will not settle for anything less.
7. Final Words: Test, Test, Test!
During the process of optimization for voice search, ensure you regularly test the queries you are optimizing your pages for on each voice search platform. Be sure to test queries an average consumer would opt for and see what happens.
With change being the only constant in the SEO world, learning how to adapt to them rapidly is a priority.
Voice search is only one of the new factors we are currently trying to adjust to, but as soon as you accept the change, the sooner you’ll get one step ahead of your competitors.