Benefits of Voice Search Optimization Strategies & How to Optimize for Voice Assistants

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Although search queries were initially based on the text typed into a search bar, search is  now far more advanced. With various hands-free devices equipped with voice recognition technologies growing in popularity, there are new considerations when optimizing for maximum brand visibility.

A solid voice search optimization strategy can help you reach searchers on as many different channels as possible, which increases client brand awareness. Because this method is still somewhat new, we recommend integrating voice search into your optimization strategy to get ahead of competition and leverage first mover advantage. Even if you aren’t the earliest adapters, chances are your competitors aren’t doing this yet. 

Voice search is growing rapidly and has introduced new opportunities for SEOs to optimize web pages for increased visibility. Don’t miss out on a new opportunity!

The Differences Between
Voice Search and Traditional Search

While there are similarities between traditional search and voice search, there are also some important differences to note.

First, it’s important to note that voice searches spoken into the search bar are different than those triggered by a voice assistant. We tested typing a search query into the box, as well as speaking that exact same query into the box. A voice prompt spoken into a search bar will bring up the same SERP results that would show if the query was typed out. However, voice searches that trigger a digital assistant work in an entirely different manner.

The Way Searchers Format Queries

There is a big difference between using speech and typing to search online. Searchers tend to structure sentences more conversationally when using speech, so optimizing for full sentences and long-tail keywords is required to gain more traffic from voice search queries. For example, when typing a search, it’s common to see “back pain doctors Dallas”, but in voice search, you may see more long-tail queries like, “Doctors who specialize in back pain in Dallas.” Even though they’re quite similar, nuisances matter in search.

How Many Results are Provided

Another major difference is the number of voice results provided. While traditional search provides 10-20 page 1 results, depending on if it’s local or organic, voice search provides only one answer unless prompted for additional results. Keep in mind, there are some differences between mobile voice assistants and home speaker devices. The voice assistant on your mobile phone can show the SERPs or multiple results on your phone screen, while the home speaker devices only speak one result.

Voice is technically “SERPless”, meaning the AI doesn’t provide a list of results, but rather reads one result.

Increased Competition

Because voice assistants only provide one result, competition is even tougher than traditional search. Instead of the usual 8-10 results on page 1, there’s only one. Voice assistants select a specific segment of a singular website to read aloud, also known as Position #0. Keep in mind, voice assistants access the same search index that traditional search does, so even though the content may not be optimized for voice search, it can still be read aloud. This means you’re essentially competing with every indexed result pertaining to the search intent.

Why Should You Optimize For Voice Search

No one knows whether voice search will surpass traditional search in popularity, but you can’t deny accessibility to voice assistants is growing.

Increases in Popularity and Accessibility of Voice Search

It’s estimated that about 45% of US homes have at least one smart speaker, but that statistic doesn’t even consider that most cell phones also have voice assistants built-in. That means pretty much anyone with a phone has access to a voice assistant. According to Google, 27% of the global online population uses voice search on their mobile devices. 

About 58% of US consumers have done a voice search for a local business, and 74% of those who have used voice search do so weekly. There has also been an increase in news and entertainment consumption using voice-enabled devices. This means that optimizing for voice is likely to increase the visibility, awareness, and authority of a business.

Readable Content is King

We’ve all noticed (and groaned) that organic results continue to be pushed further down the SERPs.  As Google releases additional SERP features, organic results are less visible, causing drops in traffic, leads, and visibility. But voice search is changing that…

While these new features create more dynamic results, written content has seen

Voice assistants can’t show videos or display images – they must pick out readable, relevant content from a webpage. This means content that was being pushed further and further down the page by features like videos, images, and products is now prominently featured with voice assistants.

Long Tail Keywords are more valuable

Earlier we talked about the differences between how searchers format queries for traditional search v. voice search. Because searchers will often use a longer phrase when speaking than when typing, longer-tail keywords can provide more value to your campaigns. What’s even better is those l longer phrases and conversational queries can be less competitive.

Local Searches Make Up 22% of Voice Search

If you work with local businesses, voice search can be a valuable addition to your strategy. Nearly 22% of voice search queries are looking for location-based content, which can increase their foot traffic and online presence.

Voice search visibility is also an added benefit you can showcase to clients! The more touchpoints and visibility you can show to clients, the more valuable your services become. If there are increases in branded voice searches, you can also show this off as increased brand awareness!

How to Optimize for Voice Search

Just like any other good SEO strategy, voice search optimization starts with research and content. Understanding the target audience and their questions is necessary to get featured by the digital assistant.

Though you don’t have to optimize all content for voice search and shouldn’t build your SEO strategy around it, knowing how to optimize for voice search can help you work these elements into your content and overall strategy.

In some cases, voice search may not be important or beneficial for your client. However, due to the increase of voice search users and the possibility of it increasing even further, it’s wise to begin incorporating voice optimization.

When optimizing for voice search there are two directions with different criteria that you can take;

  • Voice Search Optimization – Optimizing content for longer queries, usually in the form of questions. This is typically the way users phrase their queries when using voice searches.
  • Voice Action Optimization – Optimizing content with specific voice commands that trigger the digital assistant to read portions of content out to the user. This method is technically SERPless.

Below you will find additional information on specific voice search optimization strategies you can easily implement in your campaigns.

Longer Keywords

As mentioned above, voice search optimization can be great for long-tail keywords. People tend to type in shorter, less conversational phrases when searching but when it comes to using voice, the phrasing becomes much more natural, longer, and grammatically correct. This leads to longer-tail keywords in search, which you should incorporate into your content and headings.

Question Based Keywords

Many voice searches contain words such as “who”, “where”, “why”, “what”, or “how” so make sure you include these question-based keywords and support them with content that centers around informational search queries. For example, use questions in your headings, then answer the question in the copy below.

Conversational Content

Structuring and phrasing the content in a natural, conversational way is necessary to optimize for voice search queries, because conversational content will better match conversational queries. It’s also possible the voice assistant AI favors conversational content. To ensure your content is conversational, you can read through it outloud.

Schema Markup

Schema markup and structured data are key elements when optimizing for the digital assistant and rich snippets. Optimizing for rich snippets can be quite similar to optimizing for voice search. It often requires markup to allow the crawlers to understand certain content elements. It is common that rich snippets are also used to answer queries withr the digital assistant. Google provides a free Schema Markup Testing Tool to help website owners structure their content properly.

Mobile Friendliness

Voice search is highly dependent on mobile because 56% of these searches come from mobile devices. This means that optimizing for mobile and providing an improved user experience is also required when optimizing for voice search.

Don’t Miss the Boat on Voice Search…

Voice search is a faster, easier, and more straightforward method of searching the web, and as voice-enabled devices become more common voice results will likely become more common. While there is no guarantee of this, it’s smart to leverage all search opportunities. Searchers who use voice search could be different from those using traditional search, so the wider the potential audience the better.

For now, voice search supplements traditional search but as we all know…SEO is always changing. Five year from now voice search could be king and we are all fighting for position 0…

Voice search is still on the rise, so the sooner your client’s business tackles this type of optimization, the better the chances are you will reap the true benefits of voice search optimization.

Looking to Get Your Clients in Voice Search Now?

Check out our Voice Search Optimized Press Releases, which get your client’s news into the voice assistant index! They’re an affordable way to add voice search into your SEO strategy now. Plus, your clients can find themselves in voice search!

News is a popular topic in voice search, so get your clients added now for increased visibility and brand awareness.

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