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Can you hear me now? How to optimize for voice search.

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There’s no second-place ranking – or even third or fourth, for that matter – when it comes to voice searches.

Why scroll endlessly through text-based search results on your mobile device or computer when you can just ask your favorite digital assistant? According to Forbes, by next year, 30 percent of all website sessions will happen without a screen.

It’s less work for consumers for sure, but it does mean that your current approach to search engine optimization (SEO) has to be upgraded. Relax, you’re not going to have the reinvent the SEO wheel. It’s more a matter of putting yourself in the minds of prospects. If they’re speaking – rather than typing – what will they ask? Here are suggestions on how to optimize for voice search.

Break the grammar rules

Now more than ever, it’s finally time to break free of the fear of incurring your high school English teacher’s wrath when you dangle a participle or end a sentence with a preposition. Natural, conversational language, which tends to run contrary to all sorts of grammatical rules, is your aim. Here’s why.

As the Forbes article above observes, when we use our mobile devices or computers to search, we’ll type in short phrases.

When we use voice search, we break away from a “type as few words as possible” mentality and switch to the formation of complete sentences. What does this mean for SEO? It means you have to make sure you include long-tail key phrases to complement your short keywords. The latter will get you in front of traditional searches, but the former is how you’ll start being discovered by voice search.

If you’ve ever experienced frustration with Alexa, Siri, or the Google voice assistant when asking them a search-related question, it’s likely because of the way you phrased it. These agents are searching for content that matches the question you ask. Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko, recommends that you keep your content at a 9th grade writing level because it will be compatible with the language complexity found in the average Google voice search.

These voice searches also tend to be questions, starting with what, who, how, when, and where. Your SEO has to be in sync with questions as well as keywords and phrases.

Get local

You’re driving, which means you shouldn’t be distracted by typing. So, you’ll use your smartphone or maybe the functionality of your vehicle’s infotainment system to initiate a voice search with Siri or Alexa. Neil Patel advises us to draw the connection between voice searches and consumer preference for local results.

It’s why, according to Patel, voice searches including “near me” have seen triple-digit growth, and why half of all local mobile searches lead to a store visit within the next 24 hours. Your voice SEO strategy should definitely include “near me” in title tags, content meta descriptions, anchor text, and internal links. Think about the landmarks associated with your business location. Find ways to integrate them into your SEO efforts.

Follow mobile friendly best practices

We already told you that you don’t have to start from scratch, and we’ll double-down on that here. As Search Engine Journal (SEJ) explains, mobile friendly is voice friendly. If you’re already making sure your efforts are focused on a “mobile-first” environment, you’re intuitively moving in a synergistic direction to facilitate optimization for voice searches.

SEJ reminds us that the logical origination of a voice search is from a mobile device – which today includes a smart speaker. At home, the digital voice assistants in our smart speakers are starting to get more use than our smartphones for voice searches. Nevertheless, the efforts you take to make your online presence optimized for mobile devices also positions you for voice searches. This includes using Google’s AMP. Head to this excellent HubSpot synopsis if the search engine giant’s accelerated mobile pages project is still a bit fuzzy for you. Both AMP and the use of structured data make it easier for search engines like Google to summarize your content for mobile devices – and yes, the answer to a question posed as a voice search.

Look, no hands!

A recent PWC report at consumer preferences concluded with a strong warning: “Prepare for the voice revolution!” The report says that 71 percent of the survey-takers would prefer using their voice assistant to search, instead of physically typing their queries.

Heed this warning. Very soon, at least a third and perhaps up to half of the searchers you would like to be discovered by won’t see you in their search results. Because they won’t see anything. They’ll use a voice search, and their smart speaker will return a single answer. Will it be you? Discover how we can help you with all types of SEO.

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