Several years ago, I remember poking fun at people using a voice assistant to search on their mobile phones. It seemed odd and a bit awkward at the time, but today it is commonplace. If I am not at my desktop computer, I find myself using voice about 80% of the time on my phone. People have become more comfortable with the technology due to the increase in smart home speakers and mobile voice assistants. It is just so much more convenient compared to typing.
Over 60% percent of all searches are conducted on mobile devices, and according to Google, over 50% of queries on mobile devices are conducted using voice search. I think the percentage is probably much higher, but if we use those numbers then voice search accounts for 30% or more of all searches. These statistics alone should tell you that voice search is a big deal and should be something you address as part of your overall digital strategy.
This is important to our SEO strategies because the way people search using voice search is quite different than the way they type a search query.
Think about how you use the internet. For me, if I am doing some type of research, I am most often on a laptop and use a keyboard to type my queries. However, if I am looking for quick answers and instant results, I am more likely to use voice search on my mobile phone.
The way we convey the search is also different. Voice searches tend to be conversational and are longer sentences with more details than a text search. They also reflect how we speak in everyday life.
If the way people search is different for text versus voice search, don’t you think the way you optimize your website should account for both options?
Traditional SEO has focused on optimizing for short, keyword phrases a user may type into a search browser. The focus was on creating and optimizing content around these targeted keyword phrases. However, voice searches tend to be more specific and are focused on long-tail keyword phrases, i.e. phrases that are longer than a typical search query.
Now that we have established that voice search is significant and quite different from text search, let’s discuss some ideas to incorporate into your SEO strategy.
If you have ever performed a voice search on your mobile device, the chances are pretty good that you were looking for a very specific piece of information, such as the answer to a question, the address of a business, or companies that offer a particular product or service. As such, it is important that you think about the user’s intent when developing your content. One of the best ways to do this is by preemptively answering questions.
This is a simple strategy that can be easily incorporated into your content marketing plan. The idea is to create a collection of content with a headline that asks a common question. You should put some thought into how someone would ask the question using voice search. Once you have your headline, you immediately provide a concise answer to the question beneath the headline. It’s the short answer for people that do not need all the details. The remainder of the content will provide further details on the topic.
The significant thing about this strategy is that the short, concise answer at the top of the page is optimized for voice search. There is a good chance it might become a featured snippet (link to https://moz.com/blog/optimize-featured-snippets) in search results. In addition, by targeting long-tail, conversational keywords and phrases and answering questions your prospective customers are likely to have, you stand a much better chance of ranking for these queries and appearing prominently in search results.
It might not seem like a big deal, but it is really important to ensure you are fully optimizing your Google My Business listing. When someone does a voice search with local intent, the mobile device being used will look for information from a Google My Business listing first. In addition, many of these users will engage directly with the GMB listing and never visit the company website.
According to Google, 69% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results (e.g., “click to call” option).
A complete GMB listing ensures that all the information that a potential customer could ever want to know about your business is available to them on the listing page. In addition, the more current the information is, the more useful your listing will be to prospective customers. Some additional tips for optimizing your GMB listing are:
Take the time to review your GMB listing on a regular basis to ensure it is as complete and comprehensive as possible.
There are still many unknowns when it comes to the future of voice search, but one certainty is that it will continue to become more intelligent and accurate. The time to act is now. If you have not done so already, you need to be intentional about incorporating voice search into your overall SEO strategy.