Once dismissed as just a fad, voice search has shown real staying power. In fact, research shows that voice search is on the rise. According to statistics by Dialogtech, we can expect half of all online searches to be voice searches within a year.
So, if you’re not optimizing for voice search, you’re missing out on nearly half of all search queries. Not just that, you’re also affecting your ranking in traditional searches by missing out on voice search traffic.
Here are four great strategies that will boost your website ranking for voice search queries.
Focus on the locals
People use voice search when they’re on the go and nearly 40% of voice search queries are about business information. These voice search queries are often looking for locations, operating hours or contact details.
This means two things. Firstly, you’re going to want to be in the top position when someone makes a voice search query about your product or service. Secondly, you’re going to want to focus on local queries and customers.
To do this, make sure your Google My Business listing is current. Include the essential contact details but be as detailed as possible. You could include a nearby landmark to help customers find their way, or connect with other local businesses and link to each other’s sites.
Optimize for local searches by using phrases like “near me” on your website (without sounding like you’re keyword stuffing). And encourage customers to leave Google reviews. The more positive reviews you get, the better you will rank for local searches.
Think like a searcher
Whether you’re a marketer or small business owner, be thinking like one of your customers. This trick comes in very handy when you want to know how to optimize for voice search.
Consider the difference between traditional search and voice search. In traditional search, users look up specific keywords. Sometimes keyword phrases, or longtail keywords, are a string of words that would never come together in natural speech. Like “hairdresser barber Melbourne” or “characters episode 7 GOT”.
If you’re wondering how to optimize for voice search, the first step is to think like a customer. Ditch those awkward keywords and include more long, conversational phrases on your website.
Consider which question phrases your customers will be using when researching your offerings, or when looking up your business information. Check out Answer the public, StoryBase, or Question Samurai, which are a great tool to help you with this process.
Optimize in more ways than one
Almost all of voice search are mobile searches. That means that anything affecting your website’s performance on mobile is going to affect your ranking for voice search.
Another thing to consider is that people are less patient during voice and mobile searches. In contrast to leisurely PC browsers, people performing voice search are in the middle of a busy day. This is why it’s so important to go “mobile first”. Make sure your site is mobile responsive and improve your site speed.
To check whether your website is mobile friendly, use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. The tool also shows you what needs improvement, and gives you insight into your mobile site speed.
Become a snippet
When a customer performs any kind of search, Google gives a snippet from the top ranking search result. This snippet summarizes the answer to a question or gives essential, easy to digest information about a search. When customers perform a voice search, the digital assistant or voice assistant will read these snippets, aka, “position zero.”
If you want to know how to optimize for voice search, aim to become one of these snippets. Again, this involves thinking like one of your customers and addressing the questions that they are asking. If your content doesn’t answer a question, it won’t get into the featured snippet.
The first step is to know what questions your readers are asking. These typically fall into a ‘how to’ or ‘what does’ category. So instead of just targeting general keywords, extend this to a longtail version. One of the easiest ways to find these longtail keywords is to type a question you think your target audience might enter into Google search and gather ideas from the suggestions that appear.
Another thing to consider is how you can answer a question best to beat the competition. To do this, deep-dive with your content. Cover every question that could arise on the topic, break it down by steps and include relevant keywords and phrases. Skimming the surface won’t be enough to land top spot with a featured snippet.
Above all, be specific, be concise, and make sure your copy is simple and readable. Best practice is to aim for a reading grade of 8-10, and check your copy’s readability using a tool like Hemmingway Editor, Gunning Fog or Readable.
Guest Contributor: Michael Bird is co-founder and CEO of Social Garden.