Times are changing faster than ever before. It seems that as soon as one trend arrives, another is already there to take its place. When we first got our hands on smartphones, we fell in love and upgraded our lives with the countless features they provide. For instance, the voice assistants that 46% of Americans use to open the door to voice search.

What Is Voice Search Optimization and How Does Voice Search Work?

As of April 2017, approximately 33% of people used Google Assistant, 33% used Siri, 21% used Cortana, and 17% used Alexa. Whenever we pull up one of these voice assistants and ask them for a specific recipe, that’s voice search. When we ask them to list the best omakase sushi nearby, that’s voice search.

Voice search is a literal term that stands exactly for what it sounds like. As a more convenient way of searching when we’re on-the-go, especially when we’re driving, voice search is also a more natural way of interacting with technology. As a matter of fact, so many of us are trading in our keyboards for our vocal chords that it’s not even a voice search vs text search question anymore — the real question is: are you optimizing for voice search?

50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. These voice queries contain conversational words and are typically longer than the typical search, and require different considerations for optimization. Whereas normal SEO includes shorthand keywords that are precise and to the point, the opposite holds true for voice SEO because searches done by voice are more conversational. In other words, voice searches sound more like human language, and this is how you can optimize your website for them.

How Do I Optimize My Website for Voice Search?

Are you asking yourself, which digital marketing agency provides voice search optimization? Or more to the point, who can optimize my website? If either or both of these questions ring true for you, look no further than yourself. That’s right, you can optimize your site with your very own two hands, and here’s how to do it while bringing in some voice search SEO benefits in the bargain.

Secure Your Site with HTTPS

HTTPS Website is More Voice Search Friendly

For those who don’t know, HTTPS is the standard for all communication on the web; it’s what will keep your website secure. Anyway, Google loves websites that are secured with HTTPS and, if you follow suit, you may see your chances of appearing on Google’s first page for voice search results increase. Case in point, the fact that 70.4% of voice search result URLs belong to websites that have already adopted HTTPS.

Tip: Use this as your SEO guide to migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS.

Use Structured Data

After you’ve secured your site, it’s time to structure your data. Structured data, AKA schema markup, is medatada that’s not seen by users, but by search engine crawlers instead. The thing is, while crawlers can’t read your content themselves — all they see is a page full of text and other metadata that doesn’t help as much — you can bet they know what it’s saying thanks to schema markup.

What you want is structured data markup from schema.org that will make it easy for search engines to go through your content and actually understand its meaning so they can present it to your future audience. Essentially, structured data defines your content and provides a richer set of data points, giving you more opportunities to be found. Backing up a bit, Google’s main concern is the end-user and one of their top priorities is presenting the best results based on intent as opposed to just keyword matching. Well, structured data is there to explain what a page is all about, making it the perfect webpage intent extraction tool in your arsenal?

Tip: Use structured data EVERYWHERE.

Improve Your Mobile Site Speed

First and foremost, you unquestionably need to be mobile friendly (preferably responsive) because most voice search queries come from mobile devices; that’s just where we’re more likely to search with our voice. The opposite, staying with a desktop-only site, will only prove detrimental for a couple of reasons.

For one, Google will punish you with lower search rankings. Second, whenever your mobile users land on your site, they’ll be greeted with an unoptimized, slow and hard-to-maneuver website that creates bad UX. That’s not what you want. Considering that PageSpeed plays a major role in voice search SEO and that the average voice result page loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than the average page), that’s definitely not what you want.

Tip: Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool and PageSpeed Insights to learn more about your site’s load speed and how to improve it.

Create a FAQ Page

FAQ pages are absolutely perfect for voice search marketing because their content is already in the format you want: a conversational question followed by a short and concise answer underneath. In fact, for voice search results where Google provided a source for their answer, 2.68% came from FAQ pages.

For the biggest impact, ask yourself how your audience will search — how will they find you? To this end, Answer the Public will be your best friend. Simply enter a keyword or topic you’re curious about and rejoice when you receive all the questions people are asking in an easy-to-read visual diagram. For example, entering Google voice returns the following questions (among many more):

  • how does google voice work
  • what’s google voice search analytics
  • why google voice search online is important
  • is google voice search seo important
  • where does google voice search adwords work
  • what is google voice for business

One more thing, Google voice results tend to be very concise. The average voice search answer is 29 words, and Google’s own Voice Search rater guidelines show that brief and to-the-point (while still providing a complete answer) is better than long and drawn out.

Tip: To get the most benefits from using this strategy, group questions with common themes in the same page.

Publish Blog Posts That Answer Your User’s Questions

Like FAQ pages, blog posts that answer your audience’s questions are fodder for voice search results. Content that’s valuable and engaging already performs well in any search engine environment, and voice search is no exception. For example, if Facebook makes an update to their newsfeed, a digital marketing agency can post an article titled, How Is Facebook’s Changing News Feed Going to Affect Users, Brands and Advertisers?, in which they answer that and related questions their audience may be asking.

How Facebook is Changing News Feed

While creating this content, keep in mind that Google voice search results predominantly come from pages with a high word count — voice search trends show that the average word count of a Google voice results page is 2,312 words — because long-form content naturally offers more opportunities for a ‘match’ to happen between your content and a voice search query.

Tip: For best overall results, optimize existing content throughout your site as well.

Use Conversational Content

Finally and as you may have guessed, conversational content will serve you best in the voice search game. Seeing as how people talk to their voice assistants like they would a living person, it comes as no surprise that conversational content that’s easy to read and understand ranks quite well in voice search results. In fact, the average voice result page is written at a 9th grade reading level and contains simple words that are easy for search engines to pronounce.

This can also be traced back to the difference between how we search with keyboards versus our voice. With keyboards, shorthand dominates and queries tend to look like pizza place nearby. Voice search, on the other hand, employs long-tail keywords that are conversational and capture intent, such as where is the best pizza place near me? As you can see, the latter mimics how people talk in real life.

Tip: When drafting your content, make it conversational by imagining you’re talking with a friend.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t have a voice search optimization 2018 strategy in place yet, you better act fast and get one, otherwise you risk losing out on the voice search based traffic that could be coming your way. That is to say that voice search is a force to be reckoned with, and one that can make or break your business in the coming months and years.