“Hey Siri, what’s the weather like today?” “Currently, in Milwaukee it is a high of 52 degrees and sunny with a slight chance of rain in the evening and a low of 38 tonight.” Was that one of the first things you asked your smart device before even getting out of bed this morning? Voice search commands on smart devices are becoming more popular because of their ease of use, speed in retrieving results, and convenience for our busy lives. 71% of people would rather use their voice and smart device to search for something instead of physically typing. If you think about your last 24 hours, you too probably asked a question to your mobile phone or smart speaker. So, how can businesses use effective SEO in their websites and messaging to be sure that their company is being recognized as a top result for voice searches. While there are numerous overlapping areas in regular search engine optimization and voice search optimization, this blog outlines crucial ways to stay up to date on voice search trends, and how to effectively incorporate voice search optimization into your content.
Is that your stomach making noises? You realize you’re starving. You have been at work in meetings all day and you forgot to eat lunch. You want nothing more than to sink your teeth into a sandwich with freshly baked, soft on the inside bread filled with your favorite, flavorful meats, crisp, refreshing vegetables that crunch with every bite, sharp cheese to give it that zing, and topped with your favorite sauce that make your taste buds happy dance. Being the good driver that you are, you refuse to take your hands off the wheel and type on your phone. Instead you say, “Hey Siri, where is a sandwich shop near me?” She responds within seconds with the top sandwich shop results that are the least number of miles from your current location as well as an option for her to take you there with the response, “Take me to *insert sandwich shop name*”. Ta-da! You just completed a voice search. The keywords optimized and pulled from websites, social channels, addresses, phone numbers, and store hours successfully brought you customized content directly to your ears. So how can you make sure your business’ website, social channels, and messaging are optimized to be found via voice search?
Simon Says, Not Simon Does
What we say and what we do are often two completely different things. The same goes for how we talk and how we type. The words we use when speaking are different than the ones we use when typing. In order to optimize effective key words for voice search, we must make sure we are targeting the words we say in addition to what we type. When speaking to a smart device, we tend to inquire information by asking a question, different than what we would type into a search bar. For example, you might type into google, “Tesla price”, but if asking Alexa, Google, or Siri you may say, “How much does a Tesla cost?” Or, “What is the price of a Tesla?” Speech searches tend to have a greater number of words in them, as if you were carrying out a conversation. We speak to them as if we are talking to a human. In order to optimize this for your business, use more conversational keywords and phrases that sound natural, like a fluid discussion instead of choppy sentence fragments. I’m not saying your content needs to be written like a book or only contain question and answer formatting; however, add some here and there to make your content more diverse, increasing your chance of being chosen in the search results. Voice search optimization should not overtake regular SEO, but rather complement one another so that if users are searching for you by typing or speaking, you will appear in their results. Listen to the words people use and the questions they ask when talking about your business. Create your content based on those as if holding a conversation. You might be thinking, what type of content is most effective and has the greatest chance of showing up on a voice search? We’ve got the answers for you!
Content that Complements
Smart devices are…well, smart! Using their search engines of Google, Bing, etc., they are continually updating and improving their algorithm based on previous searches you made, searches made in certain locations, and predicting phrases that follow certain keywords. Create content that is optimized to be a result of the voice searches. Believe it or not, there is content that is more commonly searched using voice commands as opposed to typing. Informational content is a big one. Services or products you offer, prices, how-to’s/guides, or recipes are all topics of content that get searched daily via voice commands. Creating content that caters toward these subjects will bring you up on the search results, which is crucially important in voice searches (we’ll talk more about that in a moment). People want direct answers to their questions, not a long list to sort through themselves. Search engines know this and if the response is concise, that will be displayed first, recognized as the featured snippet, whether it was a type or voice search. If the user wants to dig deeper, they have the option of clicking the URL to receive more information. Generally, for voice search purposes, the more direct, to the point answer, the better. Imagine someone searching for the quickest oil change service. They’re probably looking for one result and they are hoping it truly is the quickest. Or, you want a recipe for the creamiest broccoli potato soup read to you while cooking? The article titled how to make the creamiest broccoli potato soup will most likely be right at the top of the results page. Notice, the word that started that search was a question word.
Question words like how, what, where, when, and why are all keywords that have an advantage over other content since these are words that most of us start our inquiries with. There is good news when it comes to using question words. Those particular words rank higher on result pages from typed inquiries as well, particularly how-to’s. Most voice searches start with one of those five words. If you create content responding to these question words, your chances of appearing on voice search result pages will likely increase. How do I cook a turkey, what is the best place to eat a burger, where is the nearest grocery store, when does this store open, why does this restaurant close early? Those are just some examples of how one would ask a smart device or smart speaker a question, in hopes of receiving the best results possible to their queries. Your business’ website, content, or company in general could be the result that they are hoping for.
Location based content is high on the list of voice inquiries as well. Most questions include “near me” at the end of the search. Location specific information is heavily searched, especially by those on the go or in need of information quickly. Having your business’ name, address, and phone number linked to your site and Google, will increase your chances of being recognized by voice search results. A Google My Business account lists your business name, where you are located, business hours, phone number, reviews, other contact information, and a link to your website displayed to those searching. Remember earlier when you were hungry and searched for the nearest sandwich shop? Their current address on Google My Business, store hours, and phone number, just to name a few components, all gave them a greater opportunity to be revealed as a top result to you. If a search engine cannot find your business location you will not be seen on search results for anything involving a physical address, even if you are in fact the closest result to the person searching. Be consistent. If you get a new phone number or you move locations, update them online immediately. What may seem like minor details can add up to be the difference in whether your business holds the top voice search result spot or gets knocked out of the rankings.
Be Mobile Friendly
Remember just a little bit ago, when I said being high on the search results page is crucial in voice searches? Let me expand on that. Voice search is largely common among mobile users. The tricky thing about a mobile voice search is that usually only the top three to five results are revealed. With smart speakers, only the top search is communicated. This coveted spot is known as “position zero”. It’s the very first result Google, Alexa, or Siri, among others, gives you. It is a highly sought-after spot. Due to the low availability of top spots, being mobile friendly on your website, blog articles, and other written content is incredibly important. A slow loading webpage is one of the main reasons users click off. This same reason affects mobile results when users are searching with their voice. Voice search results are dominantly influenced by your page speed. If your mobile site takes an eternity to load, you will not appear as a top search result. For voice search optimization specifically, the mobile speed of your site is more important than desktop. But hey, why not have both! Cover all your bases and have a fast site speed on both the desktop version and the mobile version of your website.
Our daily schedules are usually filled trying to get everything done in such a short amount of time. Go to work, drop kids off at practice, make dinner, pick kids up from practice, workout, spend time with your family, visit friends, oh wait… don’t forget to find time for yourself somewhere in there too. It’s by convenience, ease of use, and fast response time that voice search and commands have become a part of our everyday lives. They make our lives easier, even if it is just to find the closest sandwich shop because you haven’t eaten all day. There is no better time than now to make sure you’re ahead. Be the sandwich shop of your industry and get that top search result spot.