With the rise of AI and ML, voice assistants are becoming indispensable assets of everyday life. Voice search not only helps us multitask but cuts out typing, waiting for the page to load, and scrolling for answers. It also returns concise, accurate, and fast results.
A voice-first world is underway with:
- 60% of smartphone owners using voice search at least once in the past 12 months
- 55% of teenagers using it daily in the past year
- £3.5bn UK voice transactions expected by 2022
Speakable searches will soon govern SERP transforming consumer behaviour and undermining our SEO efforts. With 80% of voice-answers returned from the top 3 organic results, ranking for voice search is a take-it-all or lose-it-all deal.
How do we integrate voice search in our optimisation strategy to meet consumer demands and stay competitive? This guide will outline the 5 SEO pillars to help your business stand out and gain market share on voice-commerce beyond 2020, for both startups and well-established companies.
1.) Implement long-tail keywords
Switching to voice-search, we need to consider that we speak 2-3 times faster than we type. If a text search cuts the query down to essential words, a voice search simulates a conversation.
Because voice-search is fluent, and people are using different words and phrases, the queries you need to target are longer. The longer the queries, the more chances you get to rank across search channels on various keywords and get higher conversion rates.
If normally you would optimise pages for main keywords to rank in Google’s SERP, for voice-search you need to focus on semantics and related terms. So instead of stuffing your content with keywords, implement long tails, and write useful answers to the most frequent questions people ask on your topic.
A typed query like “fish and chips pub” becomes “what fish and chips pubs are open near me”, especially on mobile, where voice searches tend to be location specific.
Optimise your website for local search by:
- Adding your service to Google Maps
- Setting up Google my business
- Listing your business in local directories
Voice assistants are designed to return answer-type content. Keep these requirements in mind when optimising your content to rank for voice queries:
- Write more content (around 2000 words/page) to include long-tail keywords
- Keep your responses brief (29 words on average)
- Use a conversational tone to satisfy user intent
- Write in simple terms (15 y/o understanding level
A tip for startups: promoting your business by any means necessary is encouraged to get traffic to your website when you first launch. But to establish your business on the market you need to have strong SEO, too.
Implementing long-tail keywords is an excellent way for startups to qualify for voice search to get a head start and attract their competitors’ traffic.
2.) Target your audience’s questions
Google’s algorithms and NLP technology are so advanced that can process user intent with 90% accuracy. Since most voice-searches are questions, you need to include in your content answers to questions that fit your users’ intent.
Include FAQs in your content to make sure you cover all voice-search queries related to your topic and provide answers to the most common conversation triggers (“what”, “why”, “best”, etc.). Think of an uttered search query, such as “why coffee is good for you” and compare it to a text search query like “coffee benefits”. This is the mind-shift you need to adopt to rank for voice search results.
And this holds for startups as well. Optimising your landing pages to answer your audience’s questions will help them win over well-established businesses that have missed this opportunity.
3.) Use schema and structured formatting
In some respects, performing a typed search overlaps with voice searches. 70% of voice-search answers come from a Google featured snippet and people-also-ask feature. Optimising your content for quick answers and position zero will make you a desired candidate for featured snippets, and your content suitable to be returned by a voice-request.
Google passes language through schema.org. See it as an opportunity to add more information to your website and compete for voice answers. Use speakable schema.org to identify paragraphs that can voice-assist users and implement structured data to support semantic search.
Structured formatting doesn’t have a direct impact on voice search rankings, but it is a crucial part of your content optimisation strategy to show up in rich results. In exchange, it can help you rank for voice searches, too.
People tend to be hesitant when it comes to startup companies, so for a startup business E-A-T should come in first.
Adding structured data to your website will help you build your expertise and authority, and earn consumers’ trust while increasing your website’s rankings and qualifying for voice search results.
4.) Make your website mobile-friendly
With the mobile-first index fast approaching, having a mobile-friendly website accounts for securing your place in SERP. 20% of mobile searches represent spoken queries as the software is already embedded into mobile devices, and mobile voice search is getting more and more prevalent.
Since mobile devices are starting to dominate the online world, having a responsive web design is a must whether you aim at improving your mobile-friendly score or your business is at an early start-up stage.
First and foremost, voice search serves people on the go. There is no way around the fact that implementing a responsive design is a prerequisite to get market shares, to account for both mobile-first index and voice generated searches. Satisfying these two requirements will not only bring you investment gains but also secure your business’ future.
5.) Reduce page loading time
The pressure to keep your loading time below 4 seconds is higher than ever. 52% of voice responses come from pages loading faster than average. Speed has been a vital ranking factor for quite a while now, starting with 2009 for desktop and 2018 for mobile searches. And the more voice technology advances, the more popular it becomes.
Since speed is at the heart of voice search, people expect to get the help they need in an instant. You have all the reasons to optimise website performance to best satisfy your audience and secure your place on voice commerce, to keep your business going or win an advantage on the market if you are a new business.