It’s a Voice-First World, Is Your Content Optimized for It?

Jen Saunders

For years, the technology that enables voice search has been on the rise constantly improving. And with a more user friendly experience, naturally the use of voice search has skyrocketed. According to Google, more than 20 percent of all mobile search queries are voice search, and this number will only continue to shoot upwards.

One of the reasons why voice search has gone up is due to its improvements in offering accurate results. With the addition of RankBrain and its machine learning and AI attributes that now play heavily into Google’s algorithm, the search engine is able to understand human intentions and learn as it crawls to offer more accurate results. According to research performed by Kleiner Perkins, Google’s technology is 95 percent accurate in offering answers to voice queries, as their graph demonstrates.

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Voice Technology Devices are on the Rise

Yeah, this is old news. But the important thing to recognize here is that personal voice search device household use with gadgets like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod have been steadily increasing. According to Forrester, smart home devices will be used in more than 60 million homes by 2022.

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Understanding some of the SEO strategies that can help you rank for voice search is paramount to your growth (that is of course unless you reside in an industry whose customers are advanced researchers and source their services differently, but these are far and few between).

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Voice Search SEO 101

When it comes to voice search optimization, you need to look at SEO from a different perspective. For example, voice search queries are much longer that typed queries with each containing an average of three to five keywords. This will require you to re approach the way you perform keyword research.

Be aware that most voice searches are posed in the form of a question. This means using longtail keywords with “how”, “what”, “why”, “when”, “who” “where” and “does” matters significantly.

Let’s say you own a scuba diving shop that offers training, is a retail store, and sells goods online. Some potential keywords could be these:

  • How can I save money on scuba gear?
  • What is the best cold water scuba regulator?
  • Why do I need turtle fins for the cave diving class?
  • How old must a scuba diver be?
  • Where is the best scuba shop in Los Angeles?
  • When does scuba gear go on sale?
  • Why do people prefer back inflate BCDs?

Notice that some of these long keywords also have contextual and topical attributes. Some of these would be used in content aimed at ranking for people new to scuba diving, while others clearly belong in content for those already well versed in the sport. In order to rank content for voice search, you will need to embed keywords like these into your content. You will also need to take context and topic into consideration so you can create a customized experience for your readers and improve the chances they will convert into paying customers.

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Preparing Your Website for Voice Searchers

You will need to make sure your site is optimized to rank for voice search. The best digital marketing agencies have SEO teams made up of optimization ninjas that perform these tasks all the time without a single error. If your don’t have the time or knowledge to perform these tasks, your best option is to contact an agency. But for those of you willing to take the plunge, here are some things to optimize your webpages for:

  • Mobile compliance
  • Page speed
  • Natural language
  • Language that answers questions
  • Educational content that offers solutions to problems
  • Defined site hierarchy
  • Local SEO / Google My Business
  • XML Sitemap
  • Easy navigation
  • Titles, tags & meta
  • Image ALTs
  • Reviews and review responses
  • Schema markup
  • SSL certification

To perform some of these tasks a variety of site audits will need to be performed. You also want to run a standard site health audit looking for broken links, canonical issues and various error codes. Optimizing a website for voice search should always begin from a clean platform. After all, your dentist isn’t going to fill your cavities until you’ve brushed and flushed all that food debris from in between your teeth!

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Jen Saunders is the Director of SEO for WEBITMD bringing more than 15 years of search marketing experience. She spent 13 years in Europe earning her PhD while looking at lots of old neat stuff. Jen enjoys simple things, like trees, sunrises, and the delicate lull of a 16th century harpsichord. Jen enjoys meditating and studies Buddhism. She is a certified master scuba diver, dolls make her nervous, and she enjoys craft beer. Jen has two cats, Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers and Lord Joffrey Gaius Pitty-Paws. They are her heirs.