Voice Search Optimization: Why and How It’s Done

Now that Siri is 4 years old, it has become clear that the intelligent voice search software is here to stay. Beyond its quirky jokes (try asking Siri “what is zero divided by zero?”), Siri has proven itself, along with Google Now via Android, Cortana, and Amazon’s Echo, to be a powerful search tool.
In this post we will explore the reasons why you should consider optimizing your site for voice search, and how to go about doing so.


Audience Size


So why bother with voice search optimization? For one, take a look at the numbers. A recent study done by Northstar Research revealed that 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search every day.


The evolving intelligence of voice search software has enabled us to ask our devices questions that come naturally, without the use of keywords.  This appeals to mobile device owners, who are evidently using this technology frequently and in any setting. 57% of the teens surveyed admitted to using voice search with friends, and 59% while watching TV (compared to 36% of adults). Adults are certainly loving this tool, with 56% revealing it makes them feel “tech savvy”.


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Voice search user percentages are high in the population of mobile device users, and that fact alone should earn website owners’ and search engine optimizers’ consideration.


Different Intentions


Website owners and optimizers should also take into account the different intentions involved when using voice search instead of traditional search. The two main reasons for using voice search over traditional are:


  • Bypassing the clunk of typing. A large percentage of people use voice search while they are driving, cooking, or simply looking for a quicker way to arrive at an answer than typing. This can work in favor of smaller businesses. When individuals use voice search software, that software is dedicated to finding the richest, most concise answer available and NOT immediately show higher authority domains. This presents a lack of domain bias, meaning small businesses can truly compete by providing better answers.


  • Searching for local solutions. Where is a certain movie playing in my area? Where is the nearest coffee shop? Where is the closest gas station? People use voice search to seek out local businesses when they need an immediate solution, presenting businesses with a great opportunity to be discovered.


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Voice Search Optimization Tips


Now that you understand some of the Why’s, it’s time to get to the How’s. While voice search is likely to change and advance, these are some tips that will remain relevant:


  1. Mobile-Friendly Formatting


The majority of voice searches are done through mobile devices, making it extra important for your website to be optimized for mobile.


For a mobile-friendly experience, you will want to make sure your content is concise and properly organized. Break up ideas clearly into sections, and use bullet points when needed. Click here for Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test if you need some reassuring.


  1. Long-Tail Keywords


Now that voice search has gotten much better at understanding semantics, blasting your website with short keywords no longer makes sense. Your potential audience will be phrasing their queries naturally, and at length. Therefore, it would be apropos to use longer, more specific keyword phrases in your SEO.


  1. Implement FAQ


Make sure to answer those “Who, Where, What, Why and How” questions. If someone out there has already asked them, it only makes sense that your potential future audience might be searching for those answers online.


  1. Create Natural and Quality Content


Again, there is no need to over-optimize, and blast your content full of keywords. What is most crucial is to create quality, authoritative content that answers the questions your audience is interested in. Voice search works by picking rich answers, so you want yours to be the richest. Besides, your readers will appreciate content that sounds like “real people talk”, not jargon-ridden and robotic.


We don’t know what the future holds, or just how smart our phones will get. But while Siri remains unthreatening, we can adapt and advance our business practices.


What will you do to optimize your site for voice search?