Do you use voice assistant tools like Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri? Do you have a Google Home or Amazon Echo device in your home? If your answer to these questions is no, you may soon be in the minority. According to the Voice Report, in 2017 there were 33 million voice search devices in use. By 2020, ComScore has projected, 50% of searches will be voice-based.
Digital assistants such as Alexa and Siri make life easier for users, but are also throwing some new challenges into the mix for business owners seeking to optimize their business websites. Now, not only do you need to optimize your website for traditional online search, but for voice search as well. Here are some tips to help.
If you're already doing a pretty good job with your search engine optimization (SEO), you're well on the way to optimizing for voice search. (If you’re not, find out how to get your business website on the first page of Google search results.) According to a recent study, websites that rank high in search results on a desktop computer also tend to rank high in Google voice search results.
However, the following 4 steps will give your business website an edge when it comes to voice search.
When users are typing searches into a browser, they tend to keep things short. For example, someone searching for good pizza in New York City might type, "Best pizza New York.” When people are using voice assistants to conduct a search, however, they’ll speak in a conversational way. A person craving pizza will probably say something like, "Where’s the best pizza in Brooklyn?" or "What pizza places deliver near here?"
Review your website copy to make sure it answers questions in a conversational way. For instance, the Joe's Pizza website could say, “Joe’s Pizza was named Best Pizza in Brooklyn in 2017” or "We deliver to the 11212, 11213, 11216, 11233 and 11238 ZIP Codes." These are natural answers to the questions above. Writing in a way that conversationally answers common questions customers have will help your voice SEO.
You can also incorporate both questions and answers on your website by creating content that answers common questions your customers ask. That might include FAQ pages or blog posts. If you own an auto repair shop, for instance, you could write a blog post answering the question, "How often does my car really need an oil change?"
Many voice searches are locally oriented. You’ll improve your chances of local prospects finding you with voice search if you claim your Google My Business listing. Complete your listing with current, detailed information about your business. The more information you can provide, the better. (Learn more about why Google Maps matters so much to your SEO.)
Often, voice search users are on the go. For example, they may be in the car, walking down a city street, or in some other situation where it's inconvenient to type. This means your website has to be optimized for mobile search and mobile use. Your site must load quickly, because page speed has been shown to be a significant factor in voice search results. And, of course, it also needs to work well on a mobile device. What's the point of voice search leading prospects to your site if they can't navigate it on their phones? (Find out if your website is turning mobile users off.)
Easy-to-read content can improve your voice search optimization, too. According to a recent study, the average Google voice search result is written at a ninth-grade reading level. Go over your website to make sure that your copy is clear and easy to understand. Keep sentences short and avoid using a five-syllable word where a one-syllable word will do.
Need more guidance? You can see some examples of successful and not-so- successful voice search optimization at Google's Voice Search Guidelines. Or, you can enlist search engine optimization experts to help handle it for you and keep your business one step ahead of the pack.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship.