Voice Search: The Next Big Thing for SEO

How many times a day to you say “Alexa…” or “Hey, Google?”

More and more, people are bypassing the standard query box for the convenience of voice search. As the technology powering these systems advances, it’s especially important for smaller or mid-sized businesses to recognize this shift, and take steps to ensure their websites remain fully optimized for voice searching.

Voice Search Is Popular

Based on data from Google, the Google Assistant app is now available on more than 400 million devices. Over 50% of US teens and 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis. The website eMarketer revealed that some 35.6 million Americans used a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month in 2017—a year-over-year increase of 128.9 percent.

Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology. The flexibility and functionality continue to rise. Frictionless experiences drive user engagement, and the customer finds it ever-easier to adopt this trend.

It is critical that businesses act accordingly: voice commerce sales reached nearly $2 billion last year, and are predicted to reach $40 billion by 2022. This may mean that your website needs to be adjusted to leverage voice searching.

Search Engine Optimization Techniques for Voice Search

Today’s website optimization techniques were not designed for vocal search, but you shouldn’t need to totally revamp your website around voice search: a few comparatively minor changes can help merchants take advantage of this new trend. For example:

  1. Your Location Is Important

Nearly 75% of smart speaker owners search for local business information weekly; over 50% do so daily. Vocal search has a significant local impact. Consumers take advantage of the ability to ask for local business information without having to pick up the phone. This means your site’s SEO initiatives need to be receptive to queries about services, hours, and locations.

  1. Directories Should Be Current

Because vocal search tends to have more localized uses, it’s important to have your business listed on the major online business listings. Be sure your information is correct, up-to-date, and consistent across all directories. Focus on Google My Business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and Bing Places for Business, since the more popular devices search those listings for information first.

  1. Speak Colloquially

Voice searches are much more conversational in tone. Users are more apt to phrase a question as if actually speaking to another person. Rather than searching for “Thai food restaurant,” a voice searcher might ask “What’s the best-rated Thai food restaurant near me?” It’s important to add more conversational keyword phrases to your SEO to accommodate voice searching. It’s also good to monitor online reviews and ratings, and do your best to keep them positive in case the user asks more subjective questions.

  1. Provide Self-Information

As a way of ensuring that voice queries find your site, consider adding (or adding to) an FAQ section. Make lists of common words or phrases that best describe who you are and what the products or services you provide. Then come up with questions people might ask that will lead them to those answers. The more space you can devote to this information, the better.

  1. Check Page-Load Speeds

Your website’s loading speed has a direct impact on your SERP. Fast-loading websites simply rank higher in Google searches, including voice search. According to Backlinko, the average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than the average page). It was also measurably faster to load a voice search page (4.6 seconds) than most web pages (8.8 seconds).

  1. Answer Correctly.

Not only are people usually more conversational when using voice search, they also expect conversational responses. With vocal search, customers aren’t look for in-depth information: they just want a question answered. Make sure your site is able to provide quick, concise  answers–ideally, 28 words or less. Also, add trigger words like who, what, and how, which people will commonly use in voice searching.

Completely overhauling your website for voice search is likely to have an adverse effect on all the other SEO tactics already working for you. Let the experts at SEO Clearwater make the appropriate adjustments so that traditional and voice search SEO tactics can complement each other.

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