“Alexa, why is voice search so important for online marketing today?”
Ask her this, and she’ll probably return a featured snippet answer including at least one statistic about voice search and local SEO. The two are becoming integral to each other as more people turn to voice assistants to find the best burger in town, make a dentist appointment or discover new retail outlets.
Brands that aren’t optimizing web content for voice search are poised to lose big in both the near and long terms. And that’s especially true for local companies. Find out more about voice search below and get some tips for optimizing your content for this up-and-coming technology.
What Is Voice Search?
Voice search is any internet search launched by the spoken word. Individuals can query various search engines via voice assistants on mobile devices, computers, smart speakers and other devices. When you ask Google, Alexa, Cortana, Siri or Bixby a question, you’re conducting a voice search.
The AI software that powers the voice assistant turns to the internet, conducts a search based on your question and returns the most relevant results to you.
Why Is Voice Search So Important?
Experts predict that 50% of all internet searches will be conducted via voice by 2020. Lest you think voice search is a young person’s technology, consider this: 65% of people age 25 to 49 use voice-enabled devices one or more times per day, and 57% of people age 50 and over said the same. More than 60% of adults age 25 to 64 said they see themselves using voice devices even more in the future.
Smart speaker stats also speak to the importance of voice search. The market for these devices grew 200% from Q3 2017 to Q3 2018. And by 2022, more than half of all households are expected to have these devices, with consumers spending $40 billion via voice shopping by that milestone.
Voice Search and Local SEO: A Marriage of Convenience
The numbers above demonstrate the growing importance of voice search in all types of online interactions. But the relationship between voice search and local SEO is especially strong due to the convenience voice offers consumers. On mobile devices especially, consumers are highly likely to ask Siri or Google “Where can I get a pizza nearby” or “How do I get to the children’s science museum?”
Tips for Optimizing Content for Voice Search
1. Create Location Pages to Serve Local Searches
Creating local pages helps you perform better for local voice searches. But it also provides other benefits, including:
- Helping customers find pertinent local information they need to buy
- Ensuring local branches can publish content relevant to them and their consumers that might not be relevant for all your stores
- Providing a landing page option for your local GMB or directory profiles
Tom Buckland, Managing Director for HQ SEO provides a five-step list for optimizing voice search and local SEO that has resulted in a 20 to 275% increase in visibility for his clients:
- Get listed online with tools such as GMB and Yahoo Local
- Reduce page loading time — snippets and rich results won’t be shown for high loading times
- Use long-tail SEO — if you optimize for longer questions, you’re more likely to be in results than if you just optimize for head terms
- Write more local content — include information about local areas and landmarks if you can
- Use structured data markup — schema on site is prevalent in 90% of rich snippets and this will be the case for voice searches
2. Aim for the Featured Snippet
Ben Taylor, founder of WriteBlogEarn.com, says he’s started to make efforts to structure all his content for voice search.
“I incorporate concise questions and answers into all of my reviews and articles,” says Taylor. “The questions that Google shows with ‘featured snippets’ near the top of the search results are usually a good guide to the kind of things to include. My results have been solid but not always completely predictable. As with any kind of SEO work, nobody knows exactly what Google’s algorithm is concentrating on. In some cases, I’ve taken the answer box from a competitor, in others I haven’t, but it’s still worth attempting it with each piece of content.”
Some tips for creating content for this purpose include:
- Asking questions relevant to your content and audience within your content. Taylor gives suggestions such as “What is X?” or “How much does X cost?” You can see examples of questions in the first two headers of this article.
- Provide a 25-40(ish) word concise answer immediately following the question. Google and other search engines like short answers they can display in the answer box, and voice assistants like concise answers they can read to the user. You can follow up with additional paragraphs to expand on information following that.
- Use schema markup to indicate a question and answer, especially in Q&A sections of content. This clues the search engines in and helps increase the chances your content is served up as a featured snippet or in voice search results.
- Create “People Also Ask” sections to extend your content, create more feature snippet opportunities and cater to voice searches.
“It’s easy to include this in long-form content and well worth a go,” says Taylor.
3. Include Long-Tail Keywords and Conversational Language
Gregory Golinski is the head of digital marketing at YourParkingSpace.co.uk. He says they realized content needed to be adapted to take into account how smartphone users talk to their devices when conducting voice searches.
“We tried to make the content on our website sound more like conversational English. We asked ourselves: what would a smartphone user say to find our platform? What kind of keywords would they use? How would they phrase their question?”
That means doing some new keyword research and including long-tail keywords in your content. Someone searching via desktop or typing a mobile query may only include a few words. For example, “Pizza in Raliegh” is a potential typed search term. But most people don’t launch Siri and start firing off lists of keywords for searches. Instead, they speak in a natural way. “Siri, where can I get pizza in Raliegh?” or “Siri, what are the top-rated pizza places in town?”
Not sure where to start with these types of keywords? Luckily, resources such as SEMRush’s keyword research tool let you search only for questions related to your primary keywords. That’s a great place to get started when you’re optimizing for voice search.
“One thing that remains the same for content writers, whether they’re writing for voice search or regular web search,” says Keri Lindenmuth, Marketing Manager for KDG, “is to continue getting in the mindset of their users. While before you were thinking of key phrases they were searching, now you’re thinking of key questions they are asking.”
Lindenmuth also reminds content marketers to keep the voice format in mind when structuring content. “Eliminate long paragraphs and break content into bullet points or lists, something easier for a voice device to recite.”
Work With Teams That Keep Up With Trends
Convinced about the critical nature of voice search, but still not sure how to implement this type of content? Consider working with enterprise content teams who keep up with trends and know how to produce content that performs, or hire a freelance writer with voice search experience from the Crowd Content marketplace.