Voice search is a voice recognition technology that allows the user to search the web through spoken voice commands. Given that it replaces the act of physically typing a query into a search engine, it naturally has huge implications for your SEO strategy.
The Rise of the Voice Assistant
Currently, the most popular voice assistants that facilitate voice search are Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Siri. The ubiquity of these assistants makes the rise of voice search inescapable, and thus makes its impact on SEO inevitable. Whilst analysts at Global Markets Insight project that global smart speaker sales will surpass $30 billion by 2024, Google revealed that 27% of the online global population is already using mobile voice search.
If these reports are anything to go by, businesses need to make swift and irreversible changes to their SEO strategy to capitalise on this trend. This article will describe three ways that will help optimise your site for voice search:
By improving your website’s mobile experience.
By emphasising that you are a local business.
By employing natural and conversational language.
Improve Your Website’s Mobile Experience
Before thinking about optimising your content for voice search, optimising the very experience of your website should be at the top of your list of priorities. In particular, your focus should be on your website’s mobile experience. But how exactly are mobile UX and voice search connected?
Mobile Search Popularity
Back in 2019, Adobe released a study suggesting that smartphones are the most popular device used for voice technology. Compared with 39% of respondents who said they used smart speakers, 85% said that they primarily used voice search via their mobile. Put simply, then, if most voice searches are made using a mobile device, optimising the mobile experience of your website is a crucial part of optimising your site for voice search.
Google’s Mobile-First Index
Google’s recent switch to mobile-first indexing has made improving mobile experience even more important. Google now uses the mobile version of your website as the primary indicator for your page’s ranking. Therefore, in order to rank high in both mobile and desktop searches, you must provide a quality mobile experience. When someone clicks on a website that has not been optimised for mobile, they typically click right off it because it is unresponsive or simply does not work. This sends a clear message to Google’s algorithm that you should not be ranking.
Emphasise that You Are a Local Business
Now we have looked at what voice search is typically used on; we must look at what voice search is primarily being used for. According to a study by Chitika, voice searches are three times more likely to be related to a specific location than regular text searches. What does this mean for your SEO strategy?
In short, consistently emphasising that you are a local business throughout your meta description, title tags, and anchor text is key. Your copy should be full of local keywords, including references to your specific location as well as famous landmarks or institutions near your business. Equally, it is important to integrate “near me” into your copy where it sounds natural. This is because it is common for someone to ask something like: “Hey Siri, what are some good restaurants near me?”
Leverage Your Google My Business Listing
Since voice searches will frequently ask for details about your business – such as your address, contact number, and the category that your business falls into – making sure that your Google My Business Listing is both accurate and comprehensive is also an important part of your local SEO strategy.
Employ Natural and Conversational Language
As well as focusing on local keywords, it is important that you employ natural and conversational language; in other words, your copy needs to reflect the way that people would actually speak. When using a voice assistant, people are much more likely to use question-based and long-tail keywords. For instance, whilst we might simply type “Pubs near me”, we would be far more likely to ask Siri: “What are the good local pubs in my area?”
People have become fixated on specific keywords over the years, but voice search will undoubtedly play a huge part in the shift towards the use of more human language.
A Final Thought
Voice search technology is in the process of changing consumer behaviour forever. However, it is important to note that it is unlikely that voice search will ever displace text search completely (at least in the foreseeable future!). As a result, optimising for voice search does not need to completely consume your SEO strategy, but it definitely needs to supplement it.