Optimise for Voice Search

In recent years voice search has become very popular.  It is estimated that 55% of teenagers and over 40% of adults used it more than twice a day.

When Siri first came to market it was a novelty, but now we have Alexa Google’s Voice Search, Alexa, and many other voice recognition technologies to choose from. By 2020 more than half of all searches will be voice search.

So, if you want to stay ahead of the game you need to make the most of voice search in your search engine optimisation.

 

Optimise Your Local Listings

Voice search is mainly used to get information about physical places, like “find fish and chip shop in Manchester City Centre.”  In this case, it would be worthwhile to optimize your pages for the keywords “fish and chip shop Manchester City.”But perhaps more importantly, they might say something general, like “find fish and chip shop near me.”

Voice Search can recognise “near me” and then refers to the mobile user’s physical location to get results. And they’re not correlating that search with your on-page keywords.  For most of this information, the search engine is going to turn to Google My Business listings. Therefore, make sure yours is set up and accurate.  Add all your business information and select the relevant categories. Try to be as specific as possible with your categories to increase the chances of appearing for the right voice search.

You should also cross-check how your name, address, and phone number appear in listings across the web. Google uses this information to rank your pages in local search.  If you have three different addresses listed, Google will have less confidence in your business.

Target Long-Tail Keywords

People don’t use voice search in the same way they do a regular search.  For example, if I’m typing something into Google on my phone, I’m not going to type “How to improve my ranking on Googles.” That just takes too much time.  Instead, people type the exact keyword “improve rankings Google” and choose from results.

However, voice search is basically a conversation with your phone, so using Long-tail keywords are a given.  So you need to start to think how people speak.  Begin by brainstorming what kind of natural spoken language questions people might use to bring them to your site. It’s less about keyword variations and more about real speech, forget regular long-tail keyword research tools that pull up every possible variation.  A great tool for doing this is Answer the Public.  They append search terms with words like “for” or “with” to dig deeper into searcher intent:

Alternatively, you could just use voice search yourself, asking the questions you brainstormed and see what kind of content comes up.

Look for Opportunities in Your Analytics

Google’s Search Console reports will show you what actual search queries bring people to your site.  This information provides a great opportunity to brainstorm long-tail keywords, so hopefully, you’re already using it.

Create Q&A-style Content

Once you have identified some natural language keywords, put them into action on pages around your site.  A lot of websites limit Q&A-style content to their FAQ pages, but it’s time to utilise these questions elsewhere.  See how you can revamp your blog posts and your product pages to optimise for these queries.

Review Your Microdata

It should be as easy as possible for Googlebot to crawl your site and understand what it’s about.  This increases the chances that the search engine will pull up the content on your site to answer voice search questions.

To do this, you need to submit a sitemap to Google.  Also include any important information people may ask about using voice search, such as:

  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Opening hours
  • Prices
  • Directions

Next, you should use microdata to help Google understand what these elements are.  You can create “markups.”  Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and see the different kinds of content you can markup.  It will also walk you through the process and help you create the right HTML.

Concentrate on Mobile

Almost all people use voice search on mobile devices.  If they click on your site in search results and find it poorly optimised for mobile, they’ll probably go back to results and try again, which can increase your bounce rate, and hurt your PageRank.  According to Google  mobile bounce rates are 9.56% higher than desktop.  So to optimise on voice search, the mobile user experience should be a priority.  Google has already rolled out two Mobile Friendly algorithm updates.  To see if your website is mobile friendly go to  Mobile-Friendly Test.

Improve Your Site Speed

Voice searchers are usually on the go, so the faster your site speed, the better. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to find new ways to improve your mobile site speed.

Make It Scannable

Mobile device users are less inclined to read long articles on a tiny screen. Therefore, make it easy for them to get the gist of your content.   Use headers to break it up, and keep your paragraphs short and sentences simple.  If you can try to illustrate your point visually.

Think Thumbs!

Most mobile users generally navigate using a thumb.  Therefore, don’t put elements; like buttons or links too close together, if users accidentally click the wrong thing it frustrates them and can increase your exit rate.   Use a tool like MobileTest.me to see how your site appears on different mobile devices.  Alternatively, try navigating your own site on a phone, and change any negative user experience issues.

Monitoring Performance

Review your analytics carefully to check if there are differences in performance for mobile versus desktop traffic.  Any difference could indicate there is a user experience problem that needs fixing.   Google Analytics has some detailed mobile vs. desktop reports which can help you monitor your efforts.