Jamie FitzHenry
July 17, 2018

How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Searches

Optimize Your Website for Voice Searches

You know something has crossed over from early adopters to the mainstream when you hear your parents shout (because they cannot use a smartphone in a normal speaking voice), “Hey Siri” (or Alexa or Cortana). It’s a clear indicator that voice search is increasing in use.

Did you know that 20% of all mobile searches are done by voice?

It’s time to be certain that your business is ready for this trend.

Long Tail Searches Are Where It’s At

Say you’re out to get Italian food with your boo and you start talking about how you’ve dreamed of going straight to the source and want to eat Italian food in Italy (where they just call it food).

As you begin to discuss your dream itinerary, you bust out your smartphone and ask Siri, Alexa or Cortana to search flight deals to Rome while you’re still sipping on some Barolo. Even before the cannolis hit the table to end your meal, you’ve realized your dream can be a reality and you’ve gone back to Siri (or Alexa or Cortana) to ask “her” to book you a hotel room.

However, it’s more than just a nice scenario to imagine. It’s an important reminder that individuals will interact with voice search in the same way they’d speak to a loved one.

Keywords aren’t going anywhere, but conversational speaking is going to become more important. Rather than narrowing in on a short-tail keyword like “Samsung Galaxy S9,” you might want to think about how a potential customer might ask a question related to your products or services. Something like, “Will I have to take out a mortgage to afford the Samsung Galaxy S9?”

The importance of long tail keywords is nothing new. When it comes to taking down your competition, you can consider them a secret weapon. Leave them in your wake by upping your long tail keyword game in a way that is based on how we talk.

If you can come up with a long list of questions, a potential customer might ask related to a specific keyword, and factor it into your site content, you’ll be more successful. We talk in long tail keywords to one another, and more and more, it’s becoming how we search online.

Try to Rank On Featured Snippets

While you won’t find them on every search result, nearly 30% of the one and a half million searches tested by Google contain a featured snippet.

Since featured snippets are displayed at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), they are a crucial factor in your SEO. As the use of voice search rises, featured snippets will increase in importance.

Consider this: if you pose a question to Siri (or Alexa or Cortana), the top search result will be read to you. If there’s a featured snippet, that’s what your phone’s personal assistant is going to read you.

The key to ranking with featured snippets is to provide detailed answers to the questions your potential (or current) customers are already asking about your products or services.

Here are a few examples:

  • How should I balance targeting short and long tail keywords?
  • How can I find the right SEO expert for my business?
  • Isn’t featured snippets where I used to get my hair cut?

Your potential customers may be using those long tail keyword phrases in voice searches on their mobile devices. (OK maybe that last one is just me!) It’s on you to provide answers to those questions using conversational long tail keywords. Don’t forget, it must be quality content that delivers value to the individual. If you can achieve this, you’ll have a much better shot to rank with a featured snippet.

To give yourself the best chance at ranking on featured snippets, you should use the long tail keyword phrase close to the start of your content, in the URL and the title.

Use Longer Titles and Descriptions

Google has recently expanded the width of search results, which is likely in anticipation of increased use of voice search.

Before, title lengths were limited to only 60 characters. Description length was at 80 characters. Now, Google has expanded to 70 for the title and 100 characters per line for your description.

You now have a tad more space for long tail keywords to place in your meta descriptions and title tags. Put it to use, since we’re already clueing you in on the expected rise in voice search.

Think Local … Search Results

At least once per week, nearly nine out of ten smartphone users search for a local business. After all, voice search isn’t just for eCommerce!

Say your dog is getting a bit smelly and you’re not up for another battle in the shower that leaves you drenched. You might search Google to find a dog groomer nearby. You may never go back to bathing your dog again! It’s that simple for a tired dog owner. But are you making it that simple for a potential customer to find you?

Take advantage of conversational long tail keyword search by considering location-based questions a potential customer may ask.

Here are some examples:

  • Dog groomers in Seattle
  • Doggy daycare in New Orleans
  • Where’s the nearest dog park?

Don’t forget, it’s imperative to write just like you talk and you must include both the wording of the phrases your potential customers might be searching with and your location.

Unless you have a crystal ball, it can be hard to know exactly what new customers might be looking for with voice search. This is why creating an FAQ section is helpful. This is an easy way to cover a large amount of conversational long tail keywords, while creating content that your future customers will be searching for. Using this strategy, you better your odds at ranking for long tail keyword searching and even improve your semantic core.

Recognize User Intent

This fact may cause conspiracy theorists to bust out their tin foil hats: Google actually considers intent when in comes to a person’s search queries.

Look past what the individual is asking and try to figure out WHY they are asking it. Then, you can build your content strategy around it. This will make it more likely that Google considers you to be an authority for the benefit of your search ranking. If you can achieve this, it will help potential customers find your site – even when they don’t search for the exact keyword phrase. Don’t forget, your content must deliver on value and still be related to the phrase.

If you gain an understanding of the potential customer’s search queries and why they’re asking those questions, you’ll be on your way to success when it comes to voice search.

This understanding of user intent and voice search will help you to generate quality content that is rich in keywords and big on value.

One way to help your understanding of user intent is to peruse the related searches section on in the results for a given question. This will help you to get to know the individuals posing those questions and what they’re searching for.

Google’s primary goal is the give each user the most relevant search results possible. SEO remains essential, but obtaining an understanding of the Google user is even more so.

Create a Google My Business Account

When looking to gain an SEO advantage, is can be helpful to use “near me” in your content. Think about it. That’s the way prospective customers will be searching.

Something like, “what is the best Indian food near me?” or “car wash near here.”

If you have set up Google My Business for your company, you’ll increase the odds of showing up at the top of “near me” searches.

Remember, you’re not the only business aiming for the top of the “near me” search results. However, location is a factor for mobile searches. Listing your company in Google My Business will help you land at the top.

It won’t take up much of your time to list your company’s website in Google My Business. Don’t forget, Google isn’t the only search engine. You may also want to think about Bing Places For Business or other directories.

Looking Ahead

It may sound counterintuitive, but as Google evolves, it seems to be moving past search in favor of making it more simple for users to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Facebook may be to thank (or blame) for this. Their bigtime influence on web traffic has forced Google to adapt.

We know that Google is using AI more and more. Because voice search can aid a user in finding the best possible answers to their questions, it might be an important factor in AI.

Add that with the simple truth that there are an increasing amount of sales taking place on a mobile device, it’s clear that voice search’s importance will only rise. Now is the time to do something about it.

Your Turn

I hope that this article has inspired you to consider voice search. Have you had any success with optimizing voice search? Share your tips in the comments!

Jamie FitzHenry is the founder of Grizzly, a Bristol (UK) based digital agency specializing in SEO, PPC, Web Design. You can follow him on Facebook here, on Instagram here, or tweet him @wearegrizzly

You may also want to readVoice Search: It’s Not Just for eCommerce

Why Voice Search is Making Q&A Pages More Relevant Than Ever

How Artificial Intelligence Will Impact SEO and Search

Featured image: Copyright: ‘https://www.123rf.com/profile_alexutemov‘ / 123RF Stock Photo


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