Ok Google: How Do I Optimize for Voice Search?
Ok Google. Alexa. Siri. Cortana. Household names that you’ve probably already familiarized yourself with and use on a day to day basis, personal assistants are no stranger in a smart world. And in the age of mobile, personal assistants are the cool and improved methods of conducting search queries - with a faster and hands free approach compared to its predecessor, the search bar. As the stigma of talking to an automated robot wears down, more users are openly using their personal assistants both privately and publicly. According to Google, 55% of US teens and 41% of adults used voice search more than twice a day. Come 2020, it’s projected that more than half of queries will be conducted through voice search. With only a few years short of 2020, what does the rise of voice search imply for SEO? Is this the final demise of SEO?
The answer is no. SEO is in fact - repeat after me - not dead (yet) so long as we continue to adapt with the world around us. With an ever increasing on-demand economy, it’s no wonder that we have come to rely so heavily on our smart phones. What once served basic functionalities such as phone calls and low res photographs, have come to envelop every facet of our lives. (Not that i’m complaining). All things said, there’s no escaping the age of mobile responsiveness. With a growing younger demographic, it’s vital to incorporate voice search in your SEO strategies, to remain both relevant and cutting edge.
So what can you do in the midst of this uncharted voice search territory? Voice search may be relatively new in the search game but the tactics necessary to maximize voice search optimization isn’t all that foreign for seasoned SEOs. While users are still warming up to voice search, I suggest that you implement the following tips and tricks (if you know what’s good for you and your site).
Ensure Mobile Friendliness
Mobile responsiveness goes hand in hand with voice search as most voice searches are made on mobile devices. In the mobile age, it’s critical that a site is mobile friendly (i.e. enabling a good user experience and having a quick site speed) not only for the sake of voice searches but for the general well being of your site. Stated by Stone Temple Consulting, mobile garners approximately 56% of web traffic and is estimated to continue increasing throughout the years. However, mobile also accounts for a higher bounce rate relative to desktop, therefore making mobile optimization a priority to successfully implement. Google’s PageSpeed Tool and Mobile Test's emulator are an excellent indicator to determine whether your site is mobile responsive.
Optimize For Local SEO
Location focused search queries have become increasingly popular. Think back to the last time you or someone you know asked Google: “Find food near me?” In such cases, Google retrieves your physical location from your mobile device, and pulls the most relevant listings from Google My Business where the business owner has specified a relevant business category for that location. If you operate your business from a brick and mortar store, leveraging local SEO for voice search will work to your advantage more than ever. As echoed by Hubspot, local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day and 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. Actions you can take to optimize your local SEO include:
- Ensuring that your business’ locations are verified on Google My Business and set up correctly
- Your Google My Business listing should be accurate and as detailed as possible to increase your chances of appearing for the right voice search. Important information to include in your listing include: address, phone number, hours of operation
- If your service is commonly found on 3rd party rating platforms like Yelp, or Facebook, it would be in your best interest to develop a positive presence and to make sure all information provided is up to date
Focus On Long tail Keywords
Remember: users do not conduct voice searches the same way that desktop users type their search queries. This is a crucial detail not to be overlooked lightly if you want to reap the benefits of your efforts. As you may have realized, users make voice searches in a conversational manner with searches along the lines of: “Ok Google, what’s the weather today?”. To be successful in your voice search strategy, you must focus on long tail keywords as voice searches stray from the short desktop queries. Some tips on identifying long tail keywords include:
- Identify what and how people would naturally make a search to find your business
- Think about the answers that your business provides and reverse engineer the answers to find the questions
- Build out your site content so that it’s formatted in a Q&A style, thereby making it easier for your to formulate your long tail keywords and enabling your page to rank for Google’s Quick Answers
- For inspiration, turn to Google Search Console’s reports on queries that people have made to arrive on your site
Provide Context with Schema Mark-up and Microdata Implementation
Schema mark-up and microdata are important in the world of SEO because they help search engines understand the context of your content, ergo distinguishing search intents for items such as the country of Wales from the mammal. By enabling Google to better understand your site, you increase your chances of ranking better for normal searches and coming up as more relevant in voice searches. Only by providing Google with all the information needed to understand your site, can Google determine if your site is the most relevant result to serve its users.
There’s no escaping the mobile revolution that’s upon us. Nor can we continue to deem voice search a mere buzzword without any weight. Voice search is here to stay and should not be an afterthought in your SEO strategy. Equipped with the aforementioned tactics, it’s time to start preparing for the voice search era.
Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help managing content, setting up Google My Business, and increasing your local presence.
-Betty Lin, SEO Associate