How to Optimize Your Site for Voice SEO

We all know Google is the reigning champion of search engines.

The name has become a part of our everyday vernacular (“Just Google it”), and for good reason.

This search engine is by far the most widely used of all search platforms.

Just consider the fact that Google held over 75% of search engine market shares in 2017.

Additionally, it receives over 3.5 billion searches per day from desktop, mobile, and voice platforms.

As searching becomes easier, it’s only likely that the overall amount of searches will increase.

It’s a pretty easy guess, then, that the percentage of those searches being voice searches will increase as the use of voice assistants becomes second nature for younger generations.  

Additionally, as more consumer electronics and appliances make the transition to smart devices, the use of voice assistants will become even more common.

This is true even for older generations.

The time is near that people will use these devices in most day-to-day interactions, making them an invaluable part of all of our lives.

So, what does this mean for your business?

Well, as voice search comes to replace mobile or desktop, you need to consider what SEO for voice assistant searches will look like.

To help with optimizing your site for voice SEO, we’re picking the brain of Taktical’s Senior SEO Account Manager, DJ Crino.

She’s providing us with expert insights into what voice SEO is now, how to optimize for these platforms, and what the future of this strategy has in store.

The Current State of Voice Search

In 2016, 20% of Google’s mobile queries were voice searches.

It is predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice.

The increasing frequency of use is also evident with the steady increase of late majority users.

These late adopters are starting to adapt to voice assistant search, and get more comfortable with using voice technology in public.

Already, 40% of adults use voice search once a day – a number which is only expected to continue to increase.

The results are showing this steady rise in voice search popularity, too.

According to Technavio, the voice recognition device market is expected to be a $601 million industry by 2019.

And when there’s an audience, there’s a reason for continued development and innovation.

Just look at Google’s AI backed speech recognition service: at this time, it is 95% accurate.

voice SEO - voice accuracy
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This represents a 20% increase since it’s earlier introduction in 2013.

As voice search becomes both more popular and accurate, businesses must consider how to integrate this platform into their marketing strategy.

An effective voice SEO plan begins with understanding which AI voice devices people are using.

It’s also important to identify how they are using voice assistant for search, and to perform what functions.

Preparing Your Business for Voice SEO

When launching an SEO strategy for voice assistant marketing, you should know where people are searching.

With desktop or mobile, you need to know if your audience is using Google or another search engine before optimizing.

When it comes to voice search, you should research if your audience relies on Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, or another type of AI voice assistant.

Here’s a breakdown of current audience stats across the major AI voice devices:

Your audience may be different, however, so conduct your own analysis into their preferred platforms before launching your voice SEO strategy.

Then, you can consider how people use their voice AI for search, and optimize your content appropriately.

Why People Use Voice Assistant Search

In general, people use mobile voice search for speed.

In fact, 43% of mobile voice search users say it is quicker than going onto a website or using an app.

voice SEO: voice replaces typing
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This is likely why voice search is predicted to replace typing on both desktop and mobile platforms.

voice SEO: voice replaces typing on mobile
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Keep in mind, too, that people most often use voice assistant search when they’re at home or in the office alone.

However, where and with whom they use voice search clearly varies with age.

voice SEO: use voice search by age
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With this information, you can tailor your voice assistant SEO towards this audience appropriately.

The best way to research and prepare for voice search are as follows:

  1. Do your keyword research the way you would traditionally, and isolate verbose keywords and keywords in the form of questions.
  2. Do your own voice searches with the questions you found and take note of the kind of replies you get.
  3. When creating a piece of content for that search, structure your intro paragraph to answer similarly to what you heard, then try to narrow it down and make it more concise without sacrificing any valuable information.
  4. Draft the rest of the content the way you normally would (long form, lists, etc.).

The Essentials: Optimizing for Voice Assistant Search

The importance of SEO marketing cannot be overlooked for a business in any vertical.

Besides reaching consumers, search engines are also often the first line of communication with other brands.

On average, B2B brands do 12 searches before deciding to interact with a brand.

One of the most prominent places to appear in searches, whether they be conducted by consumers or businesses, is at “position 0”.

“Position 0”  refers to the area above ads and organic search results.  

Featured snippets, otherwise known as answer boxes, occupy this position in the SERPs.

Every SEO marketer knows that if you land a featured snippet on a high volume search term, then you’ve essentially struck gold.

This is due to the fact that even if you are ranked in position 1 in search results, you will earn less traffic when there is a featured snippet present: 26% when there is no featured snippet, versus approximately 19% when there is one.

So how does this all type back to voice SEO?

Well, voice search will be connected to featured snippets that occupy position 0

With 60% of searches occuring on mobile, and 20% of those being voice, you can count on it paying off to be featured in this top position.

Similarities Between Traditional and Voice SEO

There are certain traits that voice SEO and conventional mobile and desktop practices have in common.

For optimizing on voice assistant search platforms, consider the following best practices that are shared in common with “old-school” SEO:

  • Create robust and compelling content that answers common questions and pain points.
  • Conduct long tail keyword research for semantic search, as voice searches are more verbose.
  • Schema markup to clearly outline the data on the page in one consolidated snippet placed in the header, making it easier for Google to read.
  • Make your website and all content mobile optimized.

The Differences Between Traditional and Voice SEO

Considering voice assistants are an entirely new platform for people to conduct search, it’s no surprise they carry a few different SEO practices from desktop or mobile.

Just examining what people expect for the future of voice search provides interesting insights into these differences.

voice SEO: future of voice search
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Overwhelmingly, people prefer more direct answers in their voice search results.

As a result, the way you should approach your content creation and organization should also be different for best voice SEO practices.

When optimizing content for voice search brevity, context, and relevance are even more essential than when optimizing for desktop and mobile search.

This is due to the basic fact that people type in short tail, but speak in long tail.

Organization matters, too, in order to meet the expectations of users of voice search.

Put the questions people are speaking when searching into the headline as the <H1>.

Answer that question immediately after the headline, expressed clearly and accurately, in less than 100 words.

Then, you can provide extra detail and explanation in the article copy below the answer.

It’s Time to Leave Desktop and Mobile Behind for Voice SEO

Voice assistants are the future of search.

This is clear from both rising adoption rates and rapid development of new AI voice platforms.

In order to adapt to voice search, you need to formulate a voice SEO strategy.

The essential elements of effective voice SEO address the way in which people speak to conduct searches.

Once you’ve conquered how to adapt your site to how users search on voice platforms, you’ll soar ahead of the competition as you appear to your customers on the platforms they’re actually using.

While at one time, it was essential to transition your SEO strategy to mobile devices, now the platform of focus is voice assistants.

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