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6 min read

Voice Search SEO: Optimising Your Website for the Future

Key Takeaways

  • Unlike regular keyword research, you can focus on “waffly” long-tail keywords when optimising your site for voice search SEO.
  • Within voice search SEO, there’s a big emphasis on location.
  • Applying best practices, such as improving website speed, optimising for mobile, and implementing correct schema markup, can greatly enhance your website’s visibility in voice search results.

The rise of voice search

As arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) and smart tech­nolo­gies con­tin­ue to devel­op, we are see­ing huge poten­tial changes to the dig­i­tal land­scape on which we depend.

One promi­nent play­er in this dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is voice search tech­nol­o­gy. Thanks to the wide­spread adop­tion of smart home devices like Ama­zon’s Alexa and Google Home, along with the ubiq­ui­ty of Siri and Google Assis­tant on mobile devices, voice search has rapid­ly and almost seam­less­ly inte­grat­ed itself into our dai­ly routines.

The shift from tra­di­tion­al text-based queries on Google Search to voice-acti­vat­ed com­mands isn’t mere­ly a tem­po­rary fad. It indi­cates a sig­nif­i­cant behav­iour­al change in how we inter­act with the internet.

So often do we hear some­one ask their phone where the near­est cof­fee shop is or com­mand their home device to play their favourite music. These behav­iours have slipped into every­day life so eas­i­ly that we almost did­n’t notice how sig­nif­i­cant this change was.

For busi­ness own­ers and dig­i­tal mar­keters, this devel­op­ment isn’t a nov­el­ty to observe – it’s a trend that war­rants their atten­tion and action. While we’ve been work­ing to opti­mise our web­sites for text-based search engine results, some­thing’s been hap­pen­ing in the background.

Voice search results have been under obser­va­tion too.

As a result, web­site own­ers need to be aware of how their pages are being analysed and how they can opti­mise their con­tent for voice search results.

This arti­cle will delve into how voice search has changed the SEO land­scape and, cru­cial­ly, how you can opti­mise your web­site to har­ness the immense poten­tial of voice search.

How does voice search work?

Voice search tech­nol­o­gy may seem like mag­ic, but it’s built upon advanced arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence algo­rithms that work metic­u­lous­ly to under­stand and inter­pret human speech.

The crux of voice search lies in Nat­ur­al Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing (NLP), a field of AI that enables com­put­ers to com­pre­hend, inter­pret, and respond to human lan­guage in a valu­able way.

When you ask your smart device a ques­tion or give it a com­mand, it cap­tures your voice and con­verts the sound into text. This text is then analysed by NLP algo­rithms to detect the intent and the con­text behind the query. The inter­pre­ta­tion is more com­plex than sim­ply iden­ti­fy­ing key­words because the sys­tem must under­stand lin­guis­tic con­structs such as seman­tics, syn­tax, and even region­al dialects.

In con­trast to typed search­es, voice queries are usu­al­ly more con­ver­sa­tion­al and longer. For instance, while a per­son might type “Lon­don weath­er” into a search engine, they’re more like­ly to ask a voice assis­tant, “What’s the weath­er like in Lon­don today?” Voice search­es also tend to be more ques­tion-based, mak­ing use of the ‘Five Ws’ (Who, What, When, Where, and Why).

Anoth­er key char­ac­ter­is­tic of voice search­es is that they’re often about loca­tions. Users fre­quent­ly use voice search to find busi­ness­es or ser­vices in their vicin­i­ty, such as ask­ing, “Where’s the near­est Ital­ian restau­rant?” or “What time does the local super­mar­ket close?”

Under­stand­ing these key aspects of how voice search works pro­vides a sol­id foun­da­tion for build­ing an effec­tive voice search SEO strat­e­gy. By align­ing with the con­ver­sa­tion­al nature of voice queries and focus­ing on the user’s intent, you can opti­mise your con­tent to meet the unique require­ments of voice search.

How will voice search impact SEO?

The advent of voice search tech­nol­o­gy means that tra­di­tion­al SEO tech­niques, while still large­ly rel­e­vant, must evolve to address the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics and chal­lenges posed by voice search. Here are four ways voice search changes SEO as we know it:

1. Only one answer is provided

Unlike typed search­es that dis­play pages of results, voice search­es gen­er­al­ly pro­vide a sin­gle, defin­i­tive answer to the user’s query.

More often than not, this answer comes from the cov­et­ed Fea­tured Snip­pet or first result on a SERP. These con­cise, direct respons­es aim to ful­ly answer the user’s ques­tion with­out requir­ing them to click through to a web­site. As such, opti­mis­ing your con­tent to achieve this top posi­tion becomes a cru­cial aspect of voice search SEO.

2. Local results must be accurate

Anoth­er sig­nif­i­cant change is the renewed impor­tance of local SEO. Giv­en that many voice search­es have local intent, such as find­ing near­by ser­vices, busi­ness­es need to ensure they are local­ly vis­i­ble (and there­fore opti­mised for voice search).

This may involve claim­ing and updat­ing Google My Busi­ness list­ings, incor­po­rat­ing local key­words, and ensur­ing NAP (Name, Address, Phone num­ber) con­sis­ten­cy across the web.

3. Speed is extremely important

Voice search tends to favour web­sites that load quick­ly. The instant nature of voice search means that slow-load­ing web­sites may be bypassed for faster, more effi­cient alter­na­tives. There­fore, web­site speed and per­for­mance opti­mi­sa­tion become increas­ing­ly vital for vis­i­bil­i­ty in voice search results.

4. Keyword research is completely different

Final­ly, the con­ver­sa­tion­al, ques­tion-ori­ent­ed nature of voice search queries demands a shift in key­word strat­e­gy. Instead of focus­ing sole­ly on tra­di­tion­al short-tail key­words, which are com­mon in typed search queries, busi­ness­es need to incor­po­rate long-tail key­words. These key­words will like­ly align more close­ly with nat­ur­al, con­ver­sa­tion­al language.

Voice search SEO: 10 best practices

1. Focus on long-tail keywords and conversational phrases

Voice search­es are usu­al­ly more con­ver­sa­tion­al and often longer than typed search­es. As such, your key­word strat­e­gy should adapt to this trend. Pri­ori­tise long-tail key­words and phras­es that sound nat­ur­al rather than robot­ic key­word clus­ters. Use ques­tion phras­es like “how to,” “what is,” or “where can I find,” which are com­mon in voice search.

Plus, don’t be afraid to use “ques­tion mod­i­fi­er” words such as:

  • Can
  • Does
  • Will
  • Are
  • Would
  • Should
  • Have
  • Is
  • Do

While these words are typ­i­cal­ly shaved off short-tail key­words in text-based SEO, they’re extreme­ly com­mon in voice search­es. As such, you can use them freely in your key­word research with­out fear of waffling.

2. Aim for featured snippets

Since voice assis­tants often pull their answers from Fea­tured Snip­pets, you should aim to reach the top spot with your con­tent. Frus­trat­ing­ly, we can only make edu­cat­ed guess­es about how web­pages end up in the top spot.

We rec­om­mend pro­vid­ing clear, con­cise, and direct answers to com­mon queries in your con­tent. For exam­ple, this may be in the form of a bul­let-point­ed or num­bered list.

FAQ sec­tions also work, with answers pro­vid­ed direct­ly after ques­tions. This way, search engine bots know exact­ly what your con­tent is say­ing. Answers should be con­cise so they fit into the Fea­tured Snip­pet space – this is around 40 to 50 words or 300 characters.

3. Provide clear location information

Voice search­es are fre­quent­ly seek­ing infor­ma­tion about loca­tions, so make sure you’re opti­mis­ing for local SEO.

This means keep­ing your Google My Busi­ness list­ing up-to-date, using loca­tion-based key­words in your con­tent, ensur­ing NAP con­sis­ten­cy across all plat­forms, and gath­er­ing pos­i­tive cus­tomer reviews to boost your local ranking.

4. Increase your website’s loading speed

Quick web­site load­ing speed is cru­cial for voice search SEO. Slow-load­ing sites can be penalised by search engines, affect­ing your rank­ing. To improve your web­site speed, opti­mise image sizes, lever­age brows­er caching, reduce serv­er response time, and min­imise HTTP requests.

5. Implement schema markup

Imple­ment­ing schema markup on your web­site can help voice search algo­rithms under­stand your con­tent bet­ter. While it does­n’t direct­ly improve your rank­ing, it can help search engines inter­pret your con­tent and pro­vide more accu­rate results, which can indi­rect­ly boost your vis­i­bil­i­ty in voice search.

6. Optimise your site for mobile usage

Giv­en that a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of voice search­es are made on mobile devices, hav­ing a mobile-friend­ly web­site is essen­tial. Ensure your web­site is respon­sive, offers easy nav­i­ga­tion, and is visu­al­ly appeal­ing on small­er screens.

7. Improve content readability

Sim­i­lar­ly to text-based SERPs, con­tent that is easy to read and under­stand is favoured by voice search algorithms.

Make yours easy to read by break­ing it into short para­graphs, using sub­head­ings, organ­is­ing con­tent into lists, and adding images. Use sim­ple and con­ver­sa­tion­al lan­guage that your audi­ence will favour.

8. Secure your website

Web­sites that use HTTPS are con­sid­ered more reli­able by Google and are more like­ly to rank high­er in search results. Make sure your web­site is secure to gain a poten­tial edge in voice search results.

9. Clarify your product information

Make sure prod­uct details such as fea­tures, prices, and avail­abil­i­ty are clear­ly stat­ed and kept up-to-date. Schema markup can be par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful here, as it allows search engines to under­stand and dis­play this infor­ma­tion accurately.

10. Gather customer feedback

Voice search algo­rithms often con­sid­er reviews and rat­ings when decid­ing which results to show for a local search. Encour­age cus­tomers to leave reviews and rat­ings, and be sure to respond to them, par­tic­u­lar­ly any neg­a­tive ones. This not only can improve your voice search rank­ing but also builds trust with poten­tial customers.

By adopt­ing these best prac­tices, you can bet­ter posi­tion your web­site to lever­age the pow­er of voice search. Keep in mind that SEO is an ongo­ing process that requires mon­i­tor­ing and adjust­ing your strate­gies as trends and tech­nolo­gies con­tin­ue to evolve.

Final thoughts

Opti­mis­ing your web­site for voice search is no longer a futur­is­tic con­cept but a present-day neces­si­ty that busi­ness­es must embrace to stay ahead in the dig­i­tal race.

While the switch from text-based to voice search may seem daunt­ing, the best prac­tices out­lined in this arti­cle pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive roadmap to make your web­site voice-search friend­ly. The goal is not just to keep pace with the evolv­ing dig­i­tal trends but to deliv­er a supe­ri­or user expe­ri­ence that is intu­itive, con­ver­sa­tion­al, and accurate.

Remem­ber, the key is to under­stand and adapt to your audi­ence’s behav­iour, ensur­ing that your con­tent is eas­i­ly dis­cov­er­able, use­ful, and engag­ing, whether it’s being searched for via text or voice. Voice search is here to stay, and it’s time to pre­pare for this new norm, pro­vid­ing valu­able, voice-friend­ly con­tent that is a cut above the rest.

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