How Can I Optimize My Site For Voice Search?
Voice-driven assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant (formerly Google Now) have been around for a while, but the combination of more powerful phones, better artificial intelligence, and the popularity of devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home have skyrocketed the popularity of voice search.
From 2010 to 2016 voice searches on Google increased more than 700%. The adoption of hands-free devices in homes has outpaced expectations by 50%, and predictions are that, by 2020, more than half of all searches on the Internet will be powered by voice, not typing. Google Assistant is leading the pack in terms of voice recognition accuracy, followed by Alexa. Apple is heavily investing in upgrading Siri as well.
So what does that mean for a florist who now has to try and not only rank on Google’s organic search results, Google Maps, and compete in AdWords, but now also has to consider voice search? Don’t worry — it’s not as daunting as you might think.
Keep doing what you’re doing…if you’re already following modern SEO best practices, that is. All of the good things that will help you rank organically (links, authority building, great fresh content on your site) will also help you with the voice results.
Consider conversational queries.
A key part of SEO is trying to rank for the terms people are searching for. It’s true that Google is very good at understanding semantics and related terminology (ex: “apple” on a page that also talks about “pie crust” means something different than “apple” on a page that talks about “hard drives”), so we don’t need to chase precise phrasing all the time.
What’s different about voice search is the human factor. When someone in North Edmonton is typing a query they might peck out “florist in Castle Downs” or “Palisades flower delivery”. We’ve learned to use a certain syntax in our online searching. Voice searches tend to be more conversational, as if we’re actually asking someone a question. You might turn to your Google Home Mini and say “Hey Google, where can I order flowers to send to the Lake District?”
Understanding this behaviour, we can directly target these types of questions. Here are three tips to help you attract more traffic from voice searches.
1. Include Questions on Product Pages
You can help your product pages’ rank for voice search by including questions and answers on the Product Detail pages. You can think of your own questions, track questions that customers ask on the phone and online, or even use an automated solution (popular on many large ecommerce sites) that allows customers to submit questions and answer questions from other customers.
It’s also helpful to use Schema Markup to help search engines understand that your content is, indeed, a question followed by an answer. Just ask your web provider for assistance with this.
2. Write High-Quality FAQ Articles
One of my favourite tools is a website called Answer The Public. You can enter a word or phrase and after a moment the site will show you a wide selection of popular questions based on that theme.
Pick some questions from that list that you can answer with a high degree of certainty, and make sure the content is well written. A summary paragraph to open the article is helpful, as are bulleted or numbered lists if you have steps to follow.
3. Pursue Featured Snippets
It’s not unusual for Google’s answer to an informational voice query to be only one result. That’s a big contrast to the 10 links + 3 local listings + 4 ads on a desktop search result page. And most of the time, that one result is pulled from a Featured Snippet or Knowledge Panel result.
These rich results Google’s indication that they have a high level of trust that the featured information is the correct and most accurate answer to the query. Achieving Featured Snippet status requires a combination of high-quality writing, domain authority, and incoming links to your page. This may take some time, but consider what it could be worth to be Google’s authoritative answer in a future world with one result instead of 17.
Voice search is still in its infancy, but the rate of adoption has been even faster than any experts predicted. As Google, Amazon, and Apple continue to try and outpace each other, we’re going to see more features with better speech recognition in 2018 and the years ahead. The wise step is to start planning your content and SEO now with voice in mind because it’s only going to become more significant and you really don’t want to be playing catch-up next year.