Of all the technologies to come forth in recent years, voice-activated search is one of the most exciting and unique.
Digital voice recognition tools have been around for decades, but only in the past few years have we seen the trend really take off with the rise of smartphones and smart speaker devices in the home.
Voice search is one of the most important developments in this space, combining the power of voice recognition software with the might of modern search engines.
Now, marketers are competing for the top spots in the voice search results pages, which are becoming key battlegrounds for clicks, traffic, and conversions. Let’s check out some voice search SEO secrets that will help your brand rise in the ranks.
Local Search Matters Most
We all want to dominate the web far and wide with every mechanism at our disposal, but voice search results appear to favor local results, meaning you need to zoom in to a regional level with your SEO strategy.
According to data collected by Review42, local businesses can benefit big from voice search. Nearly 60 percent of voice search users have used the technology to find businesses in their area, whether it’s a restaurant, auto shop, boutique retailer, or medical services. They tend to search by state, city, and neighborhood, depending on how specific they want to get.
Since people usually use voice search in the car, or while strolling around the city on foot, it makes sense that they would ask Siri or Alexa to find their next stop as they navigate the area, while keeping their eyes on the road ahead.
Even if you offer digital services or ship products to every corner of the world, it’s still worth including information on your webpage about your physical location and filling out a My Business profile on Google.
Include images, reviews, and complete all the key questions. Customers want to know the who, what, and where about every purchase they make, and offering this information can only help you attract a wider audience, especially when voice search comes into play.
Longer, Stronger Keywords
Choosing the right keywords has always been a pillar of SEO, but your approach needs to be a bit different if you want to rank higher on voice search results pages. That’s because users tend to speak in a more casual, conversational manner when conducting voice searches, compared to the minimal, fragmented style of traditional search.
For example, when typing out a Google search for bread recipes, one might write something like “best homemade bread recipe” and hit enter. But when asking Siri or Alexa, they are more likely to use a complete sentence in question form, such as “What is the best way to make bread at home?” See the difference?
It may not seem like a big deal on the surface, but this has major implications for your keyword strategy. As research from Quora Creative shows, what, how and best are the most common keywords used in voice search phrases, so it’s time to start including these in your headlines.
Luckily, it’s not hard to work these phrases into the mix, and you can easily structure an entire content calendar around information geared to this question-and-answer format. Focus on creating helpful how-to guides and providing clear information on your FAQ page.
The more long-tail keywords appear on your pages, the more likely someone is to speak them into existence on their phone or smart speaker device in the home. Your brand will be the one to get the credit and enjoy more organic traffic as a result.
Shoot for Features and Rich Answers
You’ve probably seen more featured snippets and answer boxes on Google lately since the search engine is aiming to reduce the number of clicks necessary to get users the information they need.
It’s a simple idea changing the entire search engine results page. The most reliable, relevant, and authoritative info is fast-tracked to the very top (above all organic results) and gets the star treatment with a bigger font and bold text that highlights the key points.
Featured snippets and rich answers aren’t just crucial for traditional text search, but they also play a key role in voice search results, which display or vocalize the information in these dedicated boxes. Your brand can score big by making its way into those featured spots.
According to data from SEM Rush, 70 percent of voice search results were pulled directly from SERP features, and luckily these are not very difficult to obtain. Focus on those keywords and provide as much value to visitors as possible on social media platforms and forums.
If you take these SERP features seriously, your brand can even surpass some of the heavy hitters in your industry which tend to overtake traditional search. This is your opportunity to get ahead of the competition and skyrocket your visibility.
Optimize Speed and Accessibility
Since voice searches tend to happen quickly and on the fly, time is of the essence. Your pages need to load fast and be easily accessible to users if you want to maximize clicks and conversions. It may be time to trim the fat on those mobile pages!
This doesn’t mean you have to manually change the code on every single content page on your site. Simply use a protocol like Google’s excellent Accelerated Mobile Pages tool and you can boost your page speeds faster than you thought possible.
As far as accessibility goes, you might benefit from removing pop up ads and calls to action on your mobile pages. They distract from the main message and tend to drive visitors away from mobile screens. Keep it simple and get to the point to get results via voice search.
The faster and easier it is to load and navigate your site, the more likely mobile users are to remember your brand and make a purchase when the time is right, whether it’s on the spot or somewhere down the line.
We’re seeing so many changes to the world of search, and voice-activation technologies are paving the way for smaller brands to make big plays. Rise to the occasion by implementing these strategies and achieving unprecedented results.