While it has been around for a few years, we’re probably going to hear a lot more about optimizing for voice search in 2018. Amazon Echo and Google Home were two of the most popular holiday gifts in 2017 and users become more inseparable from their smartphones every day. What once seemed like a novelty is now commonplace. It is predicted, by 2020, more than half of all searches will be voice search.
Stay ahead of the game and use our five tips to optimize your web presence for voice search.
How People Use Voice Search
The first step in optimizing for voice search is understanding how it is used. Often, the intent, purpose and behaviour of voice search is different from text-based search, although there is some crossover. Currently, most voice searches do not relate to the function of a website; they are seeking information. Users are:
- Asking for directions.
- Checking operating hours.
- Looking for available services nearby.
- Seeking ‘quick’ information (e.g. news headlines, weather, facts or statistics).
Voice search also applies to accessing personal information held in the devices or associated accounts:
- Dictating or reviewing texts, to-do lists or calendar events.
- Calling people or businesses.
- Checking the time or setting an alarm.
Where voice search is most like text search is when users are seeking information. They are asking specific, direct questions and expect a concise response. This expectation is the key to optimizing your website for voice search. Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant want to provide the best possible information in the most direct way. There is only one answer given.
Five Tips to Optimize for Voice Search
- Identify Your Opportunities
For most websites, it doesn’t make sense to optimize the entire site for voice search. Instead, identify the areas of your site where it seems most logical to optimize. Think about what voice searchers may be searching for and make sure you have the best information to support those asks.
- Answer Questions Directly
Most voice search queries are direct questions. To capitalize on this, the more you can craft your content in the form of a direct response to a question, the more likely it is to be recognized by voice assistants and search engines as the best result. A great starting point for developing content to respond to questions are Google’s tips for Featured Snippets.
- Claim Your Accounts
Responses from voice assistants need to be highly specific and geographically relevant. One of the best ways to signal location, business details and activity is through Google My Business. If your business is local and you do not have an account, now is the time to set it up, fully configure it and begin maintaining it. This also applies to any social networking accounts.
- Be Specific and Hyper Local
The more detailed you can be about your business or offerings, the better. Make sure to define where and what you are. Voice assistant devices are GPS enabled and know where their users are. Local responses are best.It isn’t enough to be a ‘restaurant in downtown Toronto’. You business is ‘the best brunch spot in Toronto’s west end’. This also applies to citations, directory listings or off-site properties like Google My Business. Be as detailed as possible when defining categories and services offered.
- Don’t Ignore Your Meta Data and Rich Snippets
Search engines are machines and, as such, they prefer to consume content in a structured manner. Make it as easy as possible for search engine bots to crawl, index and understand what your site is about and what content is available. Ensure basic SEO elements like Title Tags, Heading Tags, Meta Descriptions and Image Alt Tags are keyword rich and descriptive. Implement schema/rich snippets to highlight items like addresses, menu items, events, reviews or other structured content.