3 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

Voice Search

Here’s a question for you.

If you wanted to know what TV channel will air Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather, what would you do?

In an ideal world, you’d seek an answer from your peers. And if they fail to give one, you’d turn to Google. It’s a safe choice because Google knows everything. The search engine makes it incredibly easy to find the answer to almost any question you could think of. Just type what you’re interested in knowing into the search box and voila, you’re presented with a plethora of credible resources to seek information from.

But here’s something interesting: a significant number of people are bypassing the use of Google when it comes to finding the information they’re looking for.

Instead, they’re asking their phones to find results quickly.

Wait, what?

Thing is, it’s increasingly convenient to give voice to the queries in your head. And fortunately, you can get answers to the questions you pose verbally thanks to…

…voice search.

Advancements in voice recognition and proliferation of smartphones have stimulated an uptick in voice search. Simply stated, speaking is easier than typing. Rather than typing out what you want to search, Generation X & Z can use Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant to ask away.

Did you know?

  • By 2020, more than 200 billion queries will be initiated via voice search per month and more than 50% of searches will come from image and voice search. (Source)
  • 20 percent of mobile search queries on Android devices and Google’s mobile app are voice searches. (Source)
  • 40% of adults use voice search once per day. (Source)

Given the rise of voice search, it has significant potential to affect how information is found.

How to Prepare Your Website for Voice Search Queries

If you want to stay ahead of the competition and capitalize on the explosion in internet traffic that’s resulted from voice search, it’s time to optimize your website today. To that end, here are some tips to set things up properly.

  1. Incorporate Accurate Answers in Your Web Pages

Voice search might include whole sentences, but it’s often specific. Individuals don’t ramble on when speaking to their smartphones. They start with adverbs or as they were taught young, question words like Where, Why, What, How and Who. For instance, a study by Microsoft’s Cortana revealed that people search for “Microsoft CEO” and people voice search for “Who is Microsoft’s CEO?” Website owners would therefore want to optimize their web pages for specific queries.

Therefore, you’ll definitely want to include accurate answers to things like, “where’s the best coffee in NY” to gain traffic from voice search. In addition, add a conversational voice on your webpages and speak to site visitors as if they’re asking questions face-to-face. A rule of thumb is to put an accurate answer to a potential voice search question in the first hundred words of a web page.

Taking this step will also raise your chances of ranking well in Google’s answer boxes – featured snippets that display above organic search results.

voice searchSo, if someone asks “how do I wear a bow tie?” to their smartphone, they’ll be given an accurate answer by their voice assistant, like the ones you see in Google’s answer box. As a result, you get an added bonus of leapfrogging over competitors in traditional searches in addition to raking in voice search traffic.

  1. Add Microdata to Your Website

Although microdata and other structured data formats have excited for several years, relatively few websites utilize structured data, and even fewer site owners actually know what microdata is or the purpose it is used for.

Simply put, microdata tells search engines about the different elements on a webpage by providing labels to content chunks. Search engines then highlight these chunks. For instance, microdata tells Google that this following text is the company’s address and the next piece of content is a user rating.

But is microdata relevant to voice search? It sure is. People often use voice search to collect information about the businesses they usually visit or those near them. The technology understands that phrases like “near me” refer to the user’s physical location, so it presents them with relevant results by taking context from the microdata of different websites.

voice search mapsSo, add your local business information (address, phone number, location, etc.) and relevant categories to your website and try being as specific as possible. You can visit schema.org to learn more on microdata and the several types available.

  1. Aim for Even More Mobile-Friendliness

With mobile being the primary source that individuals use to conduct voice searches, it’s more important than ever to consider making your website as mobile-friendly as possible. To see how your site currently fares from a mobile-friendly standpoint, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

If there is a capacity to improve, Google will recommend some specific measures you can take to make your website even more mobile-friendly. You’ll also want to follow best practices for creating mobile-friendly content. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, subheads and lots of white space.

Voice Search - mobile friendlyOverall, your mobile site needs to load quickly, be easy to navigate, provide the right answers in response to voice search queries, and include relevant information about your business.

Research also found that bounce rates are 10% higher on the small screen than they are on desktop, which implies there’s a gap between visitors’ expectations and the user experience website owners are providing. To exploit that gap, make mobile-friendliness a priority.

Conclusion

Voice search isn’t just a hot trend, it’s a new avenue for people to get the answers they need quickly. It’s also a great way to get information when you’re commuting without the hassle of all that typing. For website owners, it’s a wakeup call to make their landing pages more conversational. The main takeaway is that voice search SEO is much less robotic than the traditional SEO tactics like conventional keyword research, so optimize your site for human search if you want to win visitors in the foreseeable future.