Optimizing content for voice search seemed unnecessary a few years back. Not paying attention to it today, however, can make or break your website’s SEO performance.
Voice search is now one of the biggest channels for people to search online. Research by Google revealed 20% of its search volume came from voice assistants. This figure will rise as virtual assistants continue to grow in popularity.
In another SEO-related survey involving a list of industry experts, voice search placed third in order of SEO importance. It was ahead of factors like influencer marketing and UX optimization.
You must optimize for voice search to rank content to your intended audience in today’s hypercompetitive SEO landscape.
Thankfully, catering content for voice search is easy as it involves rather straightforward tips and guidelines.
Before that, let’s dive deep into why optimizing for voice search is crucial.
Why Is Voice Search Optimization Important?
Back in 2013, Google released the Hummingbird update. It used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the intent and contextual meaning of user searches.
In other words, Google could “learn” what users were searching for. It easily processed language, accents, or any other speech behaviors. This was a major breakthrough as it made voice searches a lot more accurate and meaningful to users.
Subsequent updates further improved the effectiveness of Google’s voice searches. For example, Google understands the words and phrases you use daily, but it also factors in speech patterns. It easily processes mixed-language sentences when returning search results.
How Voice Search Benefits Your Business
It’s clear that Google is being proactive in catering to the growing relevance of voice search. It will only benefit businesses that optimize their content for voice search.
For starters, voice search boosts audience engagement—it’s convenient for people to find the content they want. Companies benefit too since they gain access to a brand new traffic stream. It’s a boon to content visibility and ultimately, search rankings.
Optimizing for voice search won’t generate instant results, but you can reap its immense rewards sooner than expected. The majority of Gen Y is already using voice search. Experts suggest that up to 50 percent of all searches will be made by voice by 2020.
Speaking of the future, voice search optimization should be at the top of every business’ priority list. It’s a good way to prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Speech recognition has an important role in enabling Industry 4.0 to foster efficiency and productivity in businesses.
The revolution brings disruptive technologies like 5G networks, more wearables, all of which will support voice searches.
In addition to these, it will also bring awesome new developments such as predictive maintenance, IIoT, and wide-scale robotics.
4 Ways to Optimize Content to Rank High in Voice Search
The factors mentioned above are good enough reasons to revamp your website’s content strategy to accommodate voice searches. You can achieve this with the following best practices and guidelines.
Focus on Meaningful Phrases and Keywords
Voice search differs greatly from traditional Google searches. People use phrases or even entire sentences in some cases—like “where is the nearest gas station?”—to look for what they want.
People talk differently than the way they type. It’s important to structure your website’s content in a way that rolls off the tongue.
One way to achieve this goal is by using long-tail keywords in your content. Long-tail keywords are three to four-word phrases that specifically target user intent.
This helps with optimizing voice search as queries are more likely to be long-tail phrases rather than short keywords.
A headline “Best French Restaurants in LA” will benefit voice search more compared to phrases like “LA French restaurants”.
Make Use of Structured Data
Have you ever searched for a business or location and see a page containing the company’s information like its operating hours, contact details, and reviews? That is what structured data does for your website’s pages.
Structured data is a type of data that search engines use to understand the context of a page. They use this data to show the right content to users.
Structured data enhances your website’s appearance on result pages. It will highlight important information that corresponds to what users are searching for. It also helps with voice search since Google will retrieve the right content for user queries easier.
Structured data is not visible to readers. It is metadata, embedded in your website’s source code. Search engines will crawl it to understand the context of your pages.
Optimize Pages to Work Well with Mobile Device
Before optimizing your content for voice search, make sure your pages work well with mobile devices first.
Today, 70% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. Mobile optimization must go hand in hand with voice search optimization.
Not doing so is akin to putting the cart before the horse. It’s pointless since users avoid websites that are not mobile-friendly.
Intuitive UX/UI, simplified user navigation, and responsive elements are just some of the factors businesses need to take care of before touching voice search optimization.
Another useful tip that benefits voice search is to apply Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on your website.
AMP loads pages in under a second and consumes 10 times fewer data. This allows users to access content faster than ever before on any mobile device.
Make Content Easy to Read and Work With
A good rule of thumb is to be simple and direct when producing content as voice assistants often try to find the most relevant answer for user searches.
Answers to queries should have as little sentences or paragraphs as possible. That means no jargon, buzzwords, and unnecessarily long passages.
It’s true that Google does favor high-quality content that is not too short. Still, you don’t need to use bombastic words and craft Hollywood-worthy content.
This goes against the “stay simple” principle of voice search. Even John Mueller of Google himself stands behind this stance.
Start Optimizing Your Content for Voice Search Now
As mobile usage continues to rise, there’s no reason why you should hold off voice search optimization any longer.
Doing so today gives you an advantage over less proactive competitors. You will be the authoritative figure in your industry when voice search becomes the new norm.