With the rise in use of mobile devices, voice searches are becoming an increasingly popular trend among internet users. These searches are not only done on phones, but they can also be performed on home voice assistant devices powered by artificial intelligence agents such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Assistant.
Consider these voice search statistics and trends to know:
- Approximately 1 in 4 American homes (~65 million Americans) own smart speakers in 2019 (Edison Research and Triton Digital)
- By 2020, 50% of all searches across the internet will be voice-based (Comscore)
- Voice-based searches using a mobile phone are 3 times more likely to be location-specific (SearchEngineWatch)
Content marketers will need to keep pace with the shifts and developments in voice search to take full advantage of its opportunities and to stay one step ahead of other brands.
What Makes Voice Search and Text Search Different?
First things first, you’ll need to understand the characteristics of voice-driven search and what differentiates it from traditional text search. In content marketing, specifically, you’ll need to understand how consumers are using this search method and how it can affect your SEO rankings.
Searches over voice tend to differ from traditional text queries in that they’re:
- Much longer
- More conversational in tone
- Posed as questions or commands
The way we speak is very different from the way we write. If you need to get dinner and want to find pizza, you’ll likely type “pizza near me” when using traditional text search. If you use your smart device for the same purpose, you’ll probably ask something like, “Where can I get a pizza nearby?”
Because searches over voice are structured so differently, you'll need to adjust your SEO keyword strategy accordingly to reach audiences here.
How to Optimize Your Content for Voice
SEO remains pivotal to the success of marketing efforts—and voice content is no exception. Failing to optimize and update your content here can hurt your brand just like forgoing these efforts on social.
These voice optimization tips can help you avoid ranking slumps and dismal ROIs that’ll only upset your key stakeholders.
1. Use Natural Language
Because we tend to use longer phrases in our natural speech, voice-optimized content makes use of long-tail keywords and conversational language.
Voice search questions are usually three to five keywords in length, if not longer, whereas the average traditional search is just two keywords long.
Using certain question-oriented phrases—such as who, what, where, when, why, how, can, top, and best—in your keywords and natural language can help you get your content heard by more audiences.
2. Leverage Schema markup
Schema Markup is a form of HTML data you embed into your website’s code to help it become more easily discovered by search engines to help optimize your website content for voice search.
In collaboration with Google, Schema.org developed the markup “speakable". It's a text-to-speech conversion that allows Google's Assistant to read aloud marked content of a website
3. Ensure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
If your website isn't mobile-friendly, it's high time to make some adjustments. Mobile is the primary source of voice-driven search. With mobile devices, voice can offer helpful responses when your hands are otherwise busy, such as when you need directions while driving.
Using a tool to test your site for mobile optimization can be helpful, but you can also determine if it’s a mobile-friendly experience by asking these questions:
Page speed is essential to engaging site visitors. Users expect the website and pages to load quickly, if not instantaneously. Research by Google found that 53 percent of mobile website visitors will leave if a page doesn't load within just three seconds. Page speed also affects bounce rate: The slower the site, the higher the bounce rate.
Voice optimization relies on mobile optimization. A good rule of thumb: If it’s good for mobile, it’s probably good for voice.
4. Focus on Local
Research from BrightLocal notes that 76 percent of smart speaker owners search for local businesses every week, with 53 percent of them using these devices daily for searches. Considering these percentages, your content must be optimized for local SEO.
Notably, voice queries typically make use of the “near me” phrase. For example, “Alexa, where can I buy a digital camera near me?” For any business to appear as a top result for that search, you’ll want to include as much localizing information as possible.
Some ways to optimize your voice content for local include:
- Listing a phone number
- Including a physical address
- Claiming and updating any third-party listings, such as on Google Business or Yelp
- Adding “near me” in anchor text, title tags, and meta descriptions
5. Add an FAQ Page
In many ways, FAQ pages are perfect for searching via voice. They make use of question keywords and are formatted simply, with a conversational question and a short, direct answer immediately following.
Research questions that your audience is likely to ask and then create content around them. Try to anticipate how specific and direct those questions might be.
If you can offer fast, concise answers to these kinds of questions, you’ll not only boost your voice rankings but also increase your chances of appearing in a Google Featured Snippet as well.
Brands Can’t Sit Out the Voice Revolution
All things considered, voice technology is still relatively new on the scene and is constantly evolving. New recommendations will inevitably crop up as this technology matures and as more people bring voice-enabled devices into their daily lives.
Yet at its core, voice optimization is just like other forms of content: You'll need to craft a solid SEO keyword strategy, and you've got to think like a consumer to capture their attention. Consider what provides them with the most value. What information will give them what they need?