While many businesses are waking up to the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO), few appear aware of the importance of voice search optimization. As more consumers begin to use phones, in-house smart speakers, and other tech products to research goods and services, audio searches are more prevalent than ever. At present, around 40% of consumers use voice searches regularly.

On the other hand, less than 5% of companies optimize their online content for voice search. Not only does this mean that businesses are missing out on valuable searches, but it also indicates there is a huge market to capture. By servicing consumers who use voice search queries to find products, your business can be one of the first entrants to this budding digital advertising channel.


Quick Takeaways

  • An overwhelming majority of companies have not invested in optimizing web content for voice search.
  • Voice search is a rapidly growing form of web search.
  • Voice search optimization requires businesses to address longer keyword phrases and questions.
  • Voice search results must be concise and filled with valuable content.
  • Location optimization is a critical component of succeeding in ranking high in voice query results.


What is Voice Search?

A voice search occurs when an individual uses a voice-activated device to ask questions or make a request. For example, when someone uses Siri or the Google Voice Search app, they might ask for a local sporting goods store to purchase a bike. This is often seen as a much more convenient way to ask a question to search engines – users don’t have to type questions or keywords phrases.

Smartphones and smart speakers are more popular than ever. Over 20% of Americans own smart speakers, and over 80% of Americans own smartphones. Estimates suggest that 2020 will see more than half of searches become voice-activated.

While voice search accesses the same search engines and platforms, it’s much different from traditional search engine queries. The core variation lies in the way that users interact with the platform. While a Google search includes concise keyword phrases, voice searches often come in the form of a question or longer search.

This means that Google and other search platforms must find answers that relate to different types of queries. Additionally, many voice response platforms prefer to provide short answers to voice queries. The algorithm will search for content that can answer the question in the most concise way possible.


How Consumers Use Voice Search

Consumers use voice search to speak Google queries aloud. In some cases, a voice search will simply request dates, facts, data, or other small pieces of information. However, many voice searches will ask direct questions about products or services.

As questions are a primary focus of many voice searches, businesses must address keywords that include question phrases (What, Where, How, etc.). Most voice-activated platforms are now considered ‘dialogue’ systems, which means that users interact with voice-activated devices in a similar manner to the way they would interact with another human.

Also, as many consumers ask for ‘services near me’ or other geo-specific requests, location is critical in modern voice queries.


The Impact of Voice Search on Businesses

Voice search is changing the way that businesses access customers online. For businesses that already invest in SEO, voice search poses a new challenge in the fight for modern consumers. It is yet another example that you can’t remain complacent if you want to dominate digital marketing channels.

Also, a voice-activated search doesn’t provide the same options as a traditional search. While browser users have a variety of options to choose from when they ask a question or search for a service, voice searches typically generate one response. If a business owner wants to benefit from a voice query, they must focus on offering the best option for Google.

Voice-activated searches are immensely favorable for businesses that offer local services. As long as you’re optimized for local searches, voice searches may improve your ability to source local clients.


Optimizing Your Website Content for Voice Search

If you’re ready to take advantage of the potential of voice search optimization, it’s critical to get started on the right foot. There are already excellent avenues you can take to improve your online content’s voice search query suitability. Below, let’s explore five actions you can take to improve your voice search results.


1.      Focus on Longer Keyword Phrases

As voice searches tend to consist of longer phrases or questions, it’s critical to optimize these types of queries. Using longtail keyword phrases or conversational keywords will help you access consumers using voice searches. Make sure to look for question-style phrases when you’re performing keyword research – you must put yourself in the shoes of someone who needs help solving a problem or finding a suitable product.


2.      Optimize for Shorter Responses – Snippets Can Help

Research suggests the average voice search result is only 29 words. This means business owners must optimize for snippets and short responses. Focus on building FAQ-style answers that are rich in information and concise in format.

Content must be constructed to provide information in a short response. It’s critical to reformat your content to offer snippet-style responses to a ‘search Google’ query.


3.      Focus on Page Speed

As with traditional searches, voice searches require fast page speed. If a voice query app or platform wants to provide a quick answer to a device user, your page must load quickly. If your page speed is currently underperforming, switching hosting companies or web builders can make a drastic improvement.

Evidence suggests that voice-activated SERPs respond significantly faster than traditional searches. Make sure that page speed is a top priority when you’re building a site for a voice-activated Google search.


4.      Local SEO – Use Google My Business and Google Maps

Overwhelming evidence suggests that many voice search users are seeking local products or services. It’s not enough to optimize your website’s content for the entire United States – you should also consider the local customers seeking your products or services.

Geo-specific content can help you access consumers who need immediate help in your area. For example, if a homeowner comes home to a leaking pipe, they may request their Amazon Echo to find a nearby plumber. If your website is optimized for their neighborhood, you can benefit from the query.

One of the best ways to generate local interest is to use Google My Business. When you register your company with Google My Business, you must input your address and phone number. This will automatically help you source voice query customers in your area – Google Maps will locate local services and businesses.

PRO TIP: If you already have a Google My Business Listing, it is important to remember that you can’t just set it and forget it. Make sure that you update and add content regularly to increase the likelihood of being chosen for those featured spots in local search. Not sure how your GMB listing stacks up compared to industry benchmarks? Use our Free Google My Business Audit Tool to find out!


5.      Mobile Websites Matter

While consumers utilize voice searches on a variety of devices, phones tend to be one of the most popular platforms. This means that consumers are often redirected to mobile websites when they ask about a service, product, or general query. If you want your business to benefit from a mobile-based voice search, it’s critical to optimize your website for mobile visitors.

Creating a responsive website is an excellent way to ensure you can convert visitors that use mobile device voice searches. Make sure to test your website on a mobile browser before you launch it.


Update Your SEO to Tap into New Markets

If you want to access new customers using voice-activated devices, it’s critical to begin optimizing your website content. Question-based queries will only increase in popularity over the coming years. Now is the time for local business owners to take advantage of this rare opportunity to begin optimizing for voice search customers before the rest of the market shifts their content.

Not sure where to start? Let Vivial’s SEO experts do it for you – contact us today!