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The Role of Voice Search in SEO
How people use voice search differs from traditional text search, meaning a business's approach to SEO needs to change with it.
With the introduction of Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Amazon's Alexa, the voice of the consumer has never been more powerful. Speaking into a phone or smart device has made modern life even easier, giving people control over their homes or getting information faster. And businesses should take notice to continue anticipating and meeting their customers' needs.
Almost 40% of U.S. residents use voice assistants, while around 27% use their smartphones to search with their voice. These numbers make it clear that tapping into this resource is essential for growing your business.
How people use voice search differs from traditional text search, meaning a business's approach to SEO needs to change with it. Voice searches can be extremely broad; they're almost more human in nature and can be considerably more specific. And just 25 keywords are responsible for kicking off around 20% of all voice searches, with "How" being number one in voice search SEO.
Technical Aspects to Consider
Long-tail keywords and more natural language are essential for voice search SEO. People are thinking in real-time and more organically, not thinking of the fastest way to get from point A to point B like they might with a regular search.
And interestingly enough, voice SEO has some unique characteristics over text SEO. These searches are usually much more conversational and less robotic, meaning that SEO will need to adapt from the commonly strung-together words and phrases you'd see from a text search.
Long-tail keywords speak more to the searcher's intent, making them considerably more beneficial in voice search. Finding the right long-tail keywords can take some trial and error, but a good place to start is with commonly asked questions. Phrasing voice search in the form of a question is extremely common, so you're likely to get some hits if you go in this direction.
Local SEO and 'Near Me' Searches
Local SEO and voice search go hand-in-hand: 76% of people who use voice search regularly perform weekly local voice searches. It's crucial to understand the SEO within your local market and start digging into how this unique audience is searching for information. More likely than not, the phrase "near me" pops up quite often, so that's something to keep in mind.
Schema markup is one way to add context and meaning to your content in a way that search engines can parse more easily. Using schema markup can instantly make your website more relevant to voice search since it can help with more specific questions and information, giving searchers information about reviews or pricing.
Many tools already out there, like the Schema.org docs, can help you tag certain things as speakable elements to optimize your use of schema markup.
Here's an interesting element to add to this new SEO information that has virtually nothing to do with keywords: how fast your website loads plays a vital role in voice search. Mobile users especially expect fast, accurate answers when they ask their questions. Pages that load slowly equate to a worse overall user experience. And while that won't be great for your web browsers either, it's guaranteed to eventually tank your search engine rankings and affect how often you appear in voice searches.
So, while things like keyword optimization and localization are important, page responsiveness is equally so; it doesn't matter how much effort you've put into optimizing keywords if no one wants to wait to open your website.
Voice searches generally favor HTTPS websites since they're more secure. So, if you haven't yet, consider moving from HTTP to HTTPS to improve your chances of appearing in relevant searches.
Whether your website is HTTP or HTTPS, you'll still have to adapt your current content strategy to make room for voice search-optimized content. There are many ways to achieve this, and how you do so will likely vary depending on your industry. Still, remembering that local SEO and schema markup are two powerful tools in your arsenal will take you far.
You can also take some time to generate content that specifically answers questions. A great way to do this is with a FAQ section that uses a natural, conversational tone. Not only does this add value to your web users, but it's all but guaranteed to drive voice search traffic to your website.
So, what businesses are already finding success by switching up their tactics to involve more voice search SEO optimization?
- Overstock is one of many e-commerce websites harnessing the power of schema markup and structured data.
- REI is leaving everyone in the dust with remarkably fast load times
- Etsy is crushing its competitors by generating valuable, conversational content
- Many industries, especially small businesses specializing in beauty, fashion, home and garden, pet services, repair services, and others, are using tailored long-tail keywords that account for local searches
This list is only a fraction of the companies that are the driving force behind the innovation in SEO. New tools and resources are becoming available every day, and new possibilities emerge within all industries to better understand the power of voice search.
Future of Voice Search and SEO
Voice search's trajectory makes one clear: the only way to go is up. Some predictions suggest that we're only a few years away from nearly 80% of searches done through voice rather than typing.
That makes this the time to adjust your SEO strategies to match technology's growth. Smart homes, cars, and wearables are all becoming more commonplace. And as consumers realize how much more convenient it is to have these things listen to them, the more they're bound to talk.
Adapt, Optimize, and Usher in a New Era of SEO
The fast, hands-free, and conversational aspects of voice search continue to pick up steam with consumers everywhere. It's time for businesses to capitalize on this to serve their customers better, attract new ones, and keep up with their competition. If you'd like to learn more about optimizing your business' SEO for voice search, check out this guide.