What does it mean to be voice search optimized?
Being voice search optimized means your business website and listings can be detected via voice search from device voice assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri and Cortana. When a voice search is performed for a product or service that you offer, your business is more likely to be provided as a result if you have perfomed Voice SEO. For instance, car rental company Hertz appears in voice search results for ‘Ok Google, car hires London’ or ‘near me’. This is because they have voice search optimised for relevant keywords.
Voice assistants usually provide the top 3 results. With Google Assistant, you are shown the Google 3-pack: the top 3 results in a Google local search. These usually appear in a box in your search results when on a laptop or mobile.
Why is it important?
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in a recent presentation, stated that 20% of Google queries are now voice searches. This statistic shows that being voice search optimized is becoming a vital SEO factor. Therefore, it is important to start optimising your business listings and website for voice search optimization. Voice SEO can enhance both your site traffic and business physical foot traffic. And so, ultimately, should be an essential goal for every business.
How to do Voice SEO:
- Research for and use those question and question phrase keywords. The importance of voice optimization as a ranking factor has risen since the Google Hummingbird update in 2013. This update focused on user intent and the contextual meaning of queries. Voice search uses Natural Language Processing – or NLP – to detect user interests, behaviour etc. However, it now also studies semantics and contextual relevance to provide the best results. In other words, it gathers information that will offer the best user experience.
Consider the way people use voice search; typically, people will ask longer, wordy questions to their voice assistants than they would type into a search bar. So, do some research and look at the way your customers search for and speak about your type of business, product or service. Think about what they want to know about it and target those keywords.
2. Target hyperlocal keywords . Most of the time when people perform a voice search, it will be to find a business or service near them and get directions or a phone number. Therefore, in order to appear in voice search, it is essential to target hyperlocal keywords and phrases. These are searches like ‘near me’, or ‘in Hammersmith, London’, or ‘in the UK’. Use phrases which describe your area, neighbourhood, local landmarks and institutions. Include these kinds of keywords in your meta description, title tags, anchor text and your internal links also.
3. Claim your listings online and keep your NAPW and other business data accurate, consistent and up-to-date. In order to get your business voice search optimized, it is especially important to claim your business on Google My Business (GMB). If you don’t do this, it will be impossible to appear in that Google 3-pack and in voice search results.
Keep all of your business listings accurate, consistent and up-to-date to improve Voice SEO. Your business NAP (name, address, phone number) should be the same or at least correspond to each location across all listings. Further increase your return in voice search results by listing your business on multiple platforms such as Facebook, Yelp and Instagram.
All of this can be a lot of work and difficult to keep track of. So, many businesses now make use of local listing management tools and services. Our hyperlocal marketing platform Vicinus offers this feature and many more that could help you to optimise your business for local search and get your business voice search optimized.
4. Use Structured Data to your advantage. Use your structured microdata to help search engines read and categorise your website content. This means when a user performs a voice search looking for business information, search engines can more easily find this information to provide them with. Submitting a sitemap with lots of detail to Google can help with this too. Remember not to block any of your sites using robots.txt. This prevents Google from finding the information for searchers.
5. Ensure your website is responsive. A lot of voice searches are performed from mobile devices using voice assistants like Google Assistant and Siri. Therefore, to have your business fully voice search optimized, you should make sure that your business website is ‘Responsive’. Having a responsive website will mean that your website will adapt and appear in a clear and aesthetic format for the user no matter which device they are on, whether it is a mobile, a tablet or a desktop. Your business website will then only have a single URL which makes it easier for users to link to and for Google bots to crawl. You can check if your business website is already mobile-friendly by using Google’s tool. If it is not, follow Google’s advice to improve your website.
Additionally, slow page speed can hugely impact user experience on a business website and may even cause customers to click away, leaving you with a high bounce rate. Test your site speed and make improvements to optimise your website to rectify this. These changes will help you to retain the website traffic you attain from voice search results and then, hopefully, increase foot traffic to your business location(s).
6. On your business website, include a blog where you write posts to answer customer queries. Including a blog on your website can help your business to appear in voice search results. How? Once you have performed your question and question phrase keyword research, you can utilise some of these question keywords by writing blog posts to answer those user questions. For example, if you know that people are frequently searching for an answer to ‘How to manage your finances in excel’, you can write a blog answering this question and optimising your post for this keyword. This type of content appeals to the Google crawlers because it is directly answering user queries and providing them with a quality response. Therefore, your business website is more likely to rank higher in search results and consequently, have a higher probability of being returned in voice search results.