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How Do I Optimize My Site for Voice Search?

Voice search is lauded as a new organic search, a game-changer, the bane of SEO’s existence. Some of these notions may be premature, but things are moving in a new direction and they are moving fast. Voice search is becoming a go-to mode for internet users and brands are taking notice. Digital assistants and voice-activated speakers are gaining traction and finding their way into more and more homes. All of this implies that voice searches are a disruptive force to be reckoned with. It is much preferable to start preparing for its full impact sooner rather than later. The best way to go about this task is to engage in smart optimization.

Numbers do not lie

The tech infrastructure for voice search is already present and it is spreading rapidly. The available statistics speak volumes about the direction in which we are heading. According to the AlpineAI, there are already more than one billion voice queries each month and the prediction is that 50% of all searches will be voice-activated by 2020.[1] People are no strangers to making online purchases this way either. During the holiday shopping season of 2017, one in four customers used voice-activated speakers. [2]

Where is this coming from? Well, it seems that voice search has one immensely powerful thing working for it: convenience. Simply put, people can talk faster than they can type. Swimming against such powerful habitual currents is the last thing we want to do. Marketers are coming under pressure to help consumers find exactly what they are looking for using their voice. Namely, the million dollar question is how to optimize your website to capitalize on the rising trend.

Early bird gets the worm

As early adopters already know, optimizing for voice search differs from traditional SEO techniques top digital marketing agencies champion. Since the Google Hummingbird Update, Google has been trying to solve the puzzle of user intent and contextual meaning. Well, voice technology is another step on the road to improving user experience with semantics. This time around, though, AI and the Natural Language Processing (NLP) techs are used to pick up voice texture, behavior, and interests.

Furthermore, bear in mind that there are certain types of queries that work only via devices like Google Assistant. Just typing “Tell me about my day” in Google would not make much sense, would it? What is more, Google has stated that voice searches are 30 times more likely than conventional searches to be oriented towards certain action (finding out “store hours” being a prime example). Speaking of which, most of these queries are related to the local context and conducted on mobile devices.

So, start by updating your contact information, generating positive reviews, optimizing business listings, getting mobile-friendly, and driving local traffic. While at it, get the keywords right and create informative blog posts or FAQ pages. The key is to guess users’ intent based on the question phrases they use. You can also estimate what stage of the buyer journey they are in— doing the research or ready to close the deal. It all revolves around providing real value and personal assistance.

Word up

Another chief difference between voice and traditional search is that former queries tend to be longer and full of conversational words and phrases. This does not mean you should start using only long-tail keywords in your content. Just focus on familiarizing yourself with the consumer mindset— get to know how your audience talks about your brand, products, and services. You can kick off the research utilizing tools like Answer the Public.

Along the similar lines, Google Analytics helps when checking out keywords that people use. Just do not wait for Google to provide you with separate voice search reporting here. It is a good idea to take action and establish voice search queries as a separate category in Search Console. Sift through available survey data and keep a close eye on what information Google is releasing. You will problem find that the millennial and younger segment of your targeted demographic is the heaviest user of voice search.

Finally, note that assistants like Google home harness information from the web to answer questions. Not only that, they cite sources (website’s name) and read snippets only from best-ranking sites. This is to say that you should make an effort to optimize for featured snippets (coveted position zero). In other words, strive to provide the best possible answers to the most common snippets. That way, you build brand credibility and potentially drive traffic from the Google Home app your way.

Shape up or ship out

Voice searches are a big deal and they are here to stay and rock the digital universe. For now, this novelty phenomenon has not fully exploded, but it is only a question of time. So, the proposition for everyone is quite simple: adapt or risk perishing. To take advantage of this ubiquitous trend you need to evaluate the extent of advertising and optimization potential. Moreover, better accommodate rising consumer demand and grasp the contextualized intent behind queries. The ultimate goal is to foster a better experience for those using voice-powered queries.

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