To say that search engines are an integral part of our lives would be an understatement. After all, whether it is about finding info on a movie, getting details on a recipe, or seeking data related a workplace task, we all jump to “Google” it in one way or another. But reaching this level of relevance didn’t come right out of the box for search engines. From desktop computers to mobile devices, voice commands through technological offerings such as Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, search engines have had to adapt to the demanding construct of digital evolution.
Now, with these search engines, the websites that are listed on them have to do the same. Since organic traffic is the most beneficial contributor to a website’s long term viability, adapting to be friendly to voice search is crucial for any web platform regardless of which industry it operates in.
That is why, not only is voice search slowly changing the way that we use search engines, but it is also very certainly modifying the way that websites use search engine optimization (SEO) to their advantage.
How Voice Search Optimization is Changing the SEO Industry
Voice search demands a different approach from websites than conventional SEO. Where typical SEO is comprised of the usage of segmented keywords to maintain relevance to a particular subject, voice search requires each website to adapt according to how someone would “say” a query to a search engine.
For instance, imagine that you are on a drive home after a busy day of work. You are craving some Chinese food, and you know that the regular place in your neighborhood, which in this instance is East Village, is closed for renovations.
Using Siri or Google Assistant on your phone, you would ask something along the lines of “Where can I find Chinese food near me?” instead of “Chinese food East Village” - as you would normally do from a typed-in search query.
It is easy to see the difference in these queries, right?
Here’s another example:
You need to book a flight for a trip while lounging in your home. Instead of reaching your phone and typing out “flights to LA from NYC”, you simply say to Siri or even Google Home or Amazon Echo that “Show me flight details to LA”.
These all too familiar scenarios go on to show that where normally, keyword-centric search queries would have returned the relevant results, conversational queries now do the same job.
This also points to the fact that if a website isn’t ready to cater to these demands through voice search SEO, then it has to face a potentially perilous fate, doomed to sink to the depths of page rankings due to the lack of organic traffic.
That is why it is very important for any website owner to understand how to improve voice search in order to obtain as many organic visitors to their platform as possible.
But before you delve into that important step, it is important to understand a bit of background information on voice search SEO, and where it stands at present.
Voice Search SEO – What Started It All, and Where Does the Market Stand?
It seems like it was only yesterday when Google mentioned that it would throw its hat in the ring for voice search commands. But that was 8 years ago – in 2011 to be precise.
Many looked at the move as Google’s answer to Apple’s Siri, which had been attracting attention to many different demographics. At the time, it was a marvel for people to see that they couldn’t just speak to their phone to say a contact’s name and dial their number, but that they could actually talk to Siri like they were talking to a human and have their questions met with plausible answers.
Amidst the fervor and the digital rivalry, Google unveiled the Voice Action service, which allowed people to provide voice commands to their Android device.
Several people used it, but it never reached the popularity that Siri had. With that being said, Google kept on developing the technology further. The tech giant brought several algorithmic assessments to the overall value proposition of voice search so that it could claim the same qualities of relevancy and efficiency that brought Google’s search engine the fame and credibility that it is so proud of.
It took a few years for Google to bring the product to a level where it could be operated as a fully-fledged service. After many iterations, it reached the point where it became a part of the Google Assistant.
In the meantime, while Siri had switched between Google and Bing search results for a long time, it was reported in 2017 that Google would be the exclusive search engine for Siri – which holds a 46 percent market share on voice assistance as of 2018.
This meant that Google did not only have the 2 billion Android users on its side but now it also held the power of being the primary search engine to iPhone’s voice search dependent users (it was already the default search engine for manual searches on iPhone and iPad). This dynamic still continues to this date.
Whereas, Amazon Echo and its digital assistant, Alexa, still use Bing for search queries that are initiated via voice commands. Needless to say, Microsoft’s Cortana also goes that route.
This provides you with two major search engines to use for voice commands: Google and Bing. This is important to know since it helps you learn which avenues to secure and work on in this age of growing dependency on digital and home assistants.
Thankfully, both Google and Bing, while being different in terms of results, assess voice search SEO in more or less the same way.
Which brings us to the best practices of how to improve voice search SEO for a website in 2019.
Best Practices on How to Improve Voice Search SEO
Remember the point about conversational queries instead of short keywords? And the part where locations aren’t really mentioned by people who are “talking” to their digital assistants?
That is what you need to incorporate in your playbook of voice search 2019.
Optimize for “Near Me” Type of Searches
Want more traffic out of local search queries? Ensure to optimize your site for them.
This particular tip applies to both typed in and voice search queries, since “… nearby” or “… near me” are now growing in terms of search results – thanks to mobile devices that power these searches through their GPS location services.
In order to optimize your site for local searches, make sure to:
- Set your target country in Google Search Console.
- Add the keywords “near me” to your relevant landing pages but in a controlled and optimized manner.
- Add relevant anchor links from internal pages to the landing pages with the keywords and “near me” in them.
- Add sufficient and high quality backlinks to your landing pages through reputable third-party sites (make sure not to overdo it).
- Have Google Maps pages set up for your business, complete with your address and other pertinent information. Also have sufficient, positive reviews on them.
These tips are also relevant for “nearby” searches as well as any other relevant search terms.
Make Sure to Use Long Tail Keywords
Instead of using short tail keywords comprised of two or three words, utilize long tail keywords throughout your site and especially on your landing page content. This would help your site be seen in search queries that are “spoken” in a conversational manner.
Use these long tail keywords naturally in your content. For instance, driving from the Chinese food example given earlier, along with having the keyword “Chinese food East Village” also incorporate “find kung pao chicken in East Village” or find “lo mein in East Village”.
Going into specifiers may seem like a lengthy approach, but it could prove to be very effective to optimize your site for voice search SEO.
Be Aware of Featured Snippets
Whenever Google recognizes that a user is asking a question, it automatically finds the best site to answer the said query. The box in which the answer is presented on top of the search results is called a “Featured Snippet”.
You cannot opt into the feature, but you can optimize your website and landing pages in a way so that they have a higher chance to be selected by Google.
It has been noted with a 99.58 percent positivity that Google only features those pages in Featured Snippets that are already ranking in the top 10 search results.
This means that you need to make sure your landing pages have sufficient SEO done on them to be appearing in their target keywords’ top results. With that, also make sure to create content that is dedicated to answering questions. This could be a blog post or a simple paragraph on your landing pages.
Furthermore, keep your content and paragraphs short and concise, since that also helps in showing your content into a featured snippet.
Make Sure to Use Schema Markups
Schema markups are used to streamline the flow of data on your site. The practice, which uses several tags, allows you to label your data in your HTML so that search engines could read it quickly and present them to your audience accordingly.
Schema markups help in driving traffic to your site in typed in search queries as well. Keeping this in mind, make sure to use them even if you are not readying your site for a voice search 2019 strategy.
Make Sure to Keep Adapting and Evolving Your Content and Site to Get the Most Out of Voice Search
Since voice search SEO is still in its formative years in terms of defining best practices, it has a long way to go in terms of definition and intent. That is why, while implementing the presented best practices is the optimal route to take, for now, ensure that you can keep your site open to any changes for quick notices and updates.
This would help you get the most out of voice search. This, once again, is crucial, since there’s no doubt that voice search SEO is bound to rule the market in the near future. Only by keeping an open mind and getting your site ready for swift changes can you be at the forefront of this growing space.