Voice Search: What You Need To Know About Optimizing Content
The utilization of voice assistants (like Siri) and voice search has been on the rise for years. Google reports that one-fifth of all queries on mobile devices are voice search, and it is only expected that this number will rise.
Voice recognition technology is constantly improving. In fact, the technology used by Google is currently 95 percent accurate.
Despite the fact that voice search has improved so much and is on the rise, many SEO professionals have not changed the way that they are optimizing content for search. For that reason, now is the time for you to begin incorporating new SEO strategies so that you can show up in the SERPs for voice search.
Personal voice assistants, such as Cortana, Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Home, as well as voice search have changed the way that people are searching the web. Rather than typing in what they are looking for, such as “coffee shop Los Angeles,” web users are utilizing voice search to simply speak and ask for the answer to their needs like this: “Siri, where can I go to get coffee?”
If you were to Alexa what was going on, you would hear a brief message that would consist of personalized information, such as your local weather, local news, your calendar highlights, and other customized interests.
Voice Tech and Device Utilization Is Growing
Amazon Echo is a device that can serve many purposes. It can act as an alarm clock, SiriusXM music radio, Audible audiobook player, weather reporter and even a voice search assistant. While you are probably aware of most of the search assistants that have been around for a while, such as Amazon Echo (aka Alexa), Google Home devices, and Apple’s HomePod, there are several new players that are coming to the market.
For example, one that has been spotted recently is the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker, which comes equipped with Cortana, the virtual assistant from Microsoft. There will be others, and there have been reports that Alexa will come installed on many HP, Asus and Acer laptops and desktops in the near future.
Currently, Google Assistant can be found on approximately 400 million different devices, from Google Home devices to Android smartphones and tablets. The utilization of smart devices will only continue to increase as time goes on and voice search becomes more popular.
As an SEO professional, are you ready to ensure that your content appears in the results for voice search? Voice search is here and now, and it is our future. If you want to make certain that you have a leg up on your competition, then you must begin optimizing your content for voice search.
Voice Search Is Growing
Statistics show that roughly 50 percent of smartphone users are utilizing voice technology and 33 percent of those users are utilizing it on a daily basis.
If you are an SEO marketer, it is imperative that you are familiar with various search techniques that will assist you in ranking for voice search. This is particularly true since more users are using it as each year passes. By comprehending these techniques and putting these strategies to use on your site, you will significantly improve your odds of showing up as the answer to a user’s question.
Here are a few ways you can become a user’s answer.
Basics to Optimizing for Voice Search
As you are beginning your journey for voice search optimization, you need to take a look at SEO in a different light. For example, unlike traditional searches on a desktop or laptop, voice searches tend to be longer than text searches. In fact, they often consist of three to five (sometimes more) keywords. As a result, you must alter the way that you are conducting your keywords research and utilize long-tail keywords that are longer in length.
Typically, search queries will ask a specific question and utilize trigger words (who, what, when, where, why, how, and best). Therefore, it is important that you make sure you are using these trigger words within your content.
Best Practices for Voice Search
In addition, you should ensure that your content, and the site as a whole, is meeting the best practices for SEO. These include (but are not limited to) optimizing for the following:
- Mobile compliance
- Page speed
- Site authority
- Solid site hierarchy
- Local reviews
- Respond to reviews
- XML sitemap
- Schema markup
- Images with alt tags
- Easy-to-follow navigation
- Utilizing natural language that will answer questions that web users ask
- Good content that will answer web user’s questions as well as solve problems
- Optimization of local pages through online directories, such as Google My Business
- Secure the website with an SSL certificate
Featured Snippets and Voice Search
When you search for something in particular on Google or another search engine, you may see a featured snippet box at the top of the search results. This box is meant to provide you with a quick and easy answer to your search query.
Typically, this featured snippet will provide you with a summary of an answer that is taken directly from a website, the title of the page, the URL of the website and a link to the page of where the data came from.
While the featured snippet is generally located at the top of the SERPs, it can sometimes be located a bit further down. In some cases, it may only show an answer and no other data. When it does this, it is often because the answer is a well-known fact. For example, if you were to ask Google how old someone was (such as George Washington or Marilyn Monroe) when he or she died it would only show his or her age. This is because there is only a single answer and the person’s age at the time of his or her death is a known fact. There is no reason for the search engine to provide a link to support the answer.
The links that are included in the featured snippets are considered the best of the bet and are known as “position zero”. This is because, as a general rule, they will appear at the top of the search results, above all other results and above advertisements.
If you are able to get featured in this spot, it will greatly increase your chances of appearing at the top of the results for voice search. Terms that you may hear include answer boxes, rich cards, rich snippets and various other similar terms, which can become very confusing. Google is attempting to eliminate these terms and limiting it to one term: rich results.
Google has recently published a comprehensive guide that includes everything you need to know about featured snippets, and it is something that every SEO professional needs to read.
Featured Snippet Anatomy
In order to rank for voice search results, it is important to understand the main factors that search engines are looking for in terms of the “best answer”. So, when it comes to search engines selecting a featured snippet, it all boils down to SEO strategies. Here is what you need to do:
- Write a page that is specific to a topic.
- Create high-quality content that directly answers a particular question.
- Research questions that you can answer in great detail.
- Research long-tail keywords that are longer in length.
- Optimize for long-tail keyword phrases that contain at least three to five words (but more is good too!).
- Consider semantic keywords – a different way of saying the exact same thing (for example, synonyms).
- Make use of trigger words, such as best, what, where, how, and why.
- Write your content as if you are talking to your best friend (conversational language).
- Understand the intent of your customer, and optimize your page content for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Utilize headings (H1 through H4).
- Use unique tags for titles and descriptions on every page – and insert keywords in these tags.
- Include keywords at – or close to – the beginning of the first sentence or paragraph.
- Utilize keywords in the URL.
Optimize for Questions That People Will Ask
It is crucial that you are using SEO best practices when you are developing any form of content. While you won’t see a featured snippet with every search query, you will see one with most searches. In most cases, the link that is within the featured snippet will also be one of the top results on the first page of the SERPs, including on mobile devices.
How Featured Snippets Come About
When you look at a blog post, its source code and the snippet itself, you can begin to deconstruct it and learn how the featured snippet was created by the search engine.
When a search is performed, Google will look at the title of a post and determine if it is a close match to the search query of the user (in other words, the user’s intent). Google then looks at the keywords that are located on the page, as well as the title, the content, the description as well as the URL and sees that they all closely match the question that the web user was asking.
Next, Google looks to see if there are headings (such as H2 tags) being utilized on the post, which makes it easy for the search engine to pull the main points off the post. If so, then those headings can then be pulled and used in the featured snippet as a numbered or bulleted list, which is common with featured snippets.
SEO Tools Improve the Chances of Your Post Becoming a Featured Snippet
If you want to increase the chances of your blog post showing up in the SERPs as featured snippet, then you need to start utilizing some of the more technologically-advanced SEO tools. For example, you can find competitors who have featured snippets with SEMrush. Moz Pro also has a featured snippet tool that can help you locate featured snippet competitors.
Voice Search and Schema Markup
Last, but not least, schema markup is an important component when it comes to ranking well for voice search. Many SEOs are very skeptical when it comes to schema markup, mainly due to being uncomfortable with coding. However, it is important, so it is time to face your fear!
Schema markup is considered a standardized vocabulary that search engines use to help understand a web page’s content, and Google prefers JSON-LD. It simply tells search engines all about your web page. This may include your business hours, your business address, a company product, or something else entirely.
Now, with schema on your website, search engines will automatically make that information accessible by voice assistants. Of course, like any other type of SEO strategy, it is very competitive in the voice search world. It isn’t easy to find your way to the top. You must ensure that your website and the content on your website is the best in every possible way.
If you are still a little leery about schema markup, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and we can discuss it with you in more detail so that you can understand how important it is for your website.
Expect More from Voice Search
While voice search may just be hitting the horizon, there is plenty more to be coming. It is definitely a hot topic for discussion today, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. It will continue to grow and it is going to be a very importance component to every business’s success in the online industry.
If you have any questions about voice search or the different strategies mentioned within this article, contact WebDetail today so that we can discuss them and your future success.