How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

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It’s no secret that voice search is revolutionizing how we interact with our devices. Voice search enabled digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Assistant are quickly becoming part of our everyday routines as they become more integrated into the fabric of our lives, and it won’t be long until voice search becomes one of the primary ways we interact with the technology around us.

As the digital landscape around us continues to change, as entrepreneurs, we need to be sure we’re capitalizing on those changes by preparing our online content to be optimized for this trend. Comsure now predicts that by 2020 over half of all searches will be done through eyes-free voice search enabled digital assistants. Over half. That data, when coupled with an audience that is increasingly mobile, tells us that our websites need to be optimized to meet this new search criteria.

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While our SEO strategies once focused on search queries typed into a browser, either on a computer or mobile device, it’s clear voice search will increasingly be the dominant way consumers look for answers from their devices. So, how can we best prepare for what’s coming (and is basically already here)?

  1. Write your content in a conversational way. There’s a basic difference in how we type a query into a search engine and how we voice a question. Query searches are all about expediency, i.e. what’s the easiest way to get what I’m looking for? If we’re looking for the best Thai restaurant in my town, we’ll probably type in “best Thai food” knowing that our browser already knows where we are. But, when we ask a question, even to our digital assistants, we use complete phrases that we typically wouldn’t use otherwise. Using the same example with Siri, we might ask, “Hey Siri, what’s the best Thai restaurant in town that’s open now?” and we might even follow up by asking for directions to the location. It’s a subtle shift, but the difference between a site that is optimized for keyword searches and a site that is optimized for voice search will affect how digital assistants will interact with our content. In anticipation for that shift, by writing our content in a conversational way, we can prepare our site to answer the voice questions that consumers are asking.
  2. Write your page titles as a response to voice search. Part of this approach is anticipating a customer’s question, the intent behind their question, and how all of that comes into play when they voice their search to their digital assistant. This is an important note, especially when considering how that information can inform us how to market to our customer’s questions. Different questions they ask their digital assistants can indicate where they might be in the funnel, and our page titles can reflect potential responses to those questions. So, if a customer is asking where a business is located, there’s a high probability that customer is ready to act. Instead of tucking that information away on your contact page, think about that information as it relates to that kind of question, and how your page title can respond to it. And while we’re on the topic, think about the words used in a voice search, words like who, what, when, why, where, and how. In a keyword based approach, those words aren’t typically used, but in a voice search based approach, those words hold an incredible weight.
  1. Consider key differences in in grammar and wording. Think about the grammar differences that appear between typing and voicing a question. How we structure our content shouldn’t be based off of keyword usage alone, but needs to reflect the grammar used in complete sentences that come through voice search. If we were searching for the previous winners of the Super Bowl in Google we might type, “Past Super Bowl winners.” But, if we were to ask a digital assistant, we might say, “Who won the Super Bowl in _____.” Yet, another key difference in how we ask questions to our digital assistants lies in the number of words used. According to Purna Virji of Microsoft, the typical number of words used in voice search is 3, but that is expected to change as we become more comfortable using natural, conversational language with our devices. 

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Andrew Brockenbush

Andrew Brockenbush

CEO of Beefy Marketing & Host of the Business Growth Hacks Podcast

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