Imagine being able to get more visitors to your website by taking simple measures that can help it rank higher on Google’s voice search. Fortunately, you can find out just what it takes to stay ahead of your competition when people conduct voice searches using Google, or even other voice assistants. Here, you’ll get to understand the basics of voice search, you’ll look at voice search ranking factors, and you’ll learn 12 simple ways to improve your voice search ranking.
Voice searches have grown significantly in recent times and this is an aspect that all good digital marketers are starting to address. People now rely on voice searches when using their mobile phones, tablets, and even voice assistants such as Google’s Home or Amazon’s Echo and Alexa. Siri, on the other hand, has already become a steady companion of several Apple users.
Table Of Contents
What is Voice Search?
Several new devices other than smartphones now give people easy means to get a variety of information by simply speaking. If you ask Google Assistant, Google Home, Siri, Alexa, or Cortana for information about restaurants that serve Thai food in your neighborhood, you are conducting a voice search. Simply put, a voice search is when you ask for information orally, as opposed to typing it out.
Voice searches give people a natural way to interact with devices by conversing as they do in their everyday lives. By speaking to a device, you may now look for local businesses, play music, control other devices in your home, and get information about practically anything on the internet.
The Need for Voice Search Ranking
According to data collated by Semrush, the number of voice search users has increased from 3.25 billion to 8 billion in the last four years (from 2019 to 2023), which is a 146% rise. It adds that while 24% of consumers are comfortable shopping online using voice searches, as many as 71% prefer using voice searches over typing their queries.
For businesses, this means they need to address voice searches as effectively as possible. It’s common for online users to add “near me” in their voice searches, so it’s also important for businesses to get their local SEO right.
Bear in mind that voice searches have become a practical way for many web users to find the information they need, which requires that you provide them with accurate details about your business. For instance, Google Assistant relies heavily on your Google Business Profile to scout for business-related information that users seek, so you need to make sure it remains updated at all times.
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Voice Searches in Numbers
If you’re wondering why voice search optimization requires your attention, consider these statistics about voice search trends collated by Oberlo.
- Half of all Americans use voice search every day.
- 71% of consumers favor voice searches over typing.
- Over one-third of the country’s consumers own smart speakers.
- More than 50% of smart speaker owners use their devices every day.
- Over 33 million consumers in the U.S. used smart speakers to make purchases in 2022.
- More than half of all online shoppers in the country research products using voice searches.
- 72% of the country’s consumers use digital assistants to conduct voice searches.
Given the widespread usage of mobile devices and smart speakers, instances of voice searches are only set to grow. Voice search marketing, as a result, is the obvious next step to cater to this growing sphere.
Ways to Improve Voice Search Ranking
Techniques and methodologies surrounding search engine optimization (SEO) have continued to evolve over time. Given the significant growth in smartphone ownership, it is only normal for people to use them to carry out voice searches. Businesses that do not pay attention to voice search optimization at this stage may soon be left wanting.
What sets regular SEO apart from SEO for voice searches is the fact that voice searches are typically more conversational. Given the conversational nature, voice search keywords are generally longer than keywords used in text-based searches. In addition, a noticeable chunk of voice searches is locally focused. For instance, people looking for businesses often need results from the vicinity, unless specified otherwise.
Here are 12 effective ways to improve your ranking for voice search.
1. Claim Your Google My Business Listing
If you’ve not claimed your My Business listing on Google yet, that’s the first step to take. Then, optimize your My Business page, as this gives Google an easy way to get different kinds of information about your business, such as its category, hours of operation, and contact details. With several searches now being voice-based, keeping your My Business page updated increases the possibility of it showing up when people conduct relevant voice searches.
2. Get Mobile-Friendly
Since people typically carry out voice searches u mobile devices, it is important that you have a mobile-friendly website. Google suggests the use of responsive web design, and you can use its Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check where your website stands. If your website is not up to the mark, Google gives you an indication of what might help.
3. Ensure Quick Loading
Google released a speed update in 2018, making a website’s loading speed an even more important ranking parameter for mobile searches than before. Since voice search users would not want to wait for answers, there is a strong likelihood that Google’s voice search algorithm also relies on loading speed. With a website that loads quickly, you have this base covered.
4. Think Voice Snippets
Google’s John Mueller, in a Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout, suggested that webmasters should think about how they can effectively deliver content through voice snippets. However, before you put anything out there, make sure it sounds alright when spoken out loud. Other than sounding okay, it should also come with the information users are looking for, failing which it might not get past Google.
5. Use Structured Data
Google relies on various factors other than content to determine the relevance and position of a website in search results. A voice search optimization agency can leverage different factors to optimize content for online searches. Structured data, or schema markup, is an aspect that does not have a direct effect on ranking, but it can give your website an edge over its competition.
Metadata that goes into your website’s source code is not visible to users, but it helps Google in classifying and organizing content. Getting the desired result on a search engine results page (SERP) is possible if you make use of schema to enable search enhancements.
6. Use Conversational Keywords
An important aspect of voice search marketing is the use of effective keywords. Typical keywords in voice searches are long-tail+, where the + denotes conversational phrases you might need to incorporate when optimizing your content. Voice search SEO involves looking at how people talk in their everyday lives and paying attention to local differences. Once you know the kind of questions your target audience is asking, you may formulate voice search keywords and create content accordingly.
7. Use Question-Based Keywords
People who use voice searches commonly frame their queries in the form of questions. They typically come in the form of who, why, where, when, what, and how. One way to find question-based keywords related to your field is to look at the “related searches” section at the bottom of almost every Google result page. Optimizing your content for snippets is also important, and these provide concise answers to voice searches.
8. Keep Your Answers Short
Google’s Evaluation of Search Speech guidelines gave voice SEO professionals a clear indication of what works and what does not way back in 2017. Simply put, Google wants answers that are concise and to the point. The context matters as well, and Google will consider if the user might benefit from a shorter or more detailed answer. Here are examples of what Google considers okay and too lengthy.
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9. Restructure Your Content
A voice search is usually looking for an informative answer to a specific query. Voice search optimization agencies rely on knowledge graphs, knowledge boxes, and knowledge panels to improve voice search ranking. When search results include one or more of these features, search engines view them as appropriate answers.
10. Improve Your Domain Rating
Domain rating (DR) refers to a score that your website gets depending on the quality and quantity of its backlinks. When it comes to voice searches, search engines typically favor websites with high DRs. Here are some ways to improve your website’s DR.
- Create high-quality data-based content that attracts links from authoritative websites in your niche.
- Audit your website and remove bad or broken links that affect its ranking negatively.
- Optimize your website structure, user experience, on-page SEO, and technical SEO for better search engine visibility.
- Improve internal links with the aim of distributing link equity and helping users navigate your website.
- Increase your social shares and engagement to boost your online reach and authority.
11. Focus on Your Blog
While you’re focusing on ranking for voice search, make sure you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. For example, ranking well on Google typically involves having a well-laid-out blog to go with your website. This requires that you provide top-quality content that your target audience finds appropriate and useful. If you’re providing numbers or statistics, make sure you include links to relevant sources.
Until a few years ago, a blog post with 300 to 500 words was typically enough to get the attention of search engines. However, this is the day and age of long-form blog posts. As per HubSpot, a blog post should ideally have 2,100 to 2,400 words to rank well for relevant keywords. As a result, the process also requires that you carry out keyword research to identify the best ones to use.
12. Create Pages to Answer FAQs
Creating pages to answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) is an effective way to improve your website’s search engine optimization as well as user experience. To do so, pay attention to these aspects.
- Identify questions. Identify the questions your target audience is asking. This gives you the means to create content it finds relevant and useful.
- Provide brief and clear answers. Use language that even a child in the fifth grade can understand and avoid using jargon. If you have to use complex or technical terms, explain what they mean in simple terms.
- Structure and categorize your answers. Organize your questions into categories so users may find the information they seek in an easy manner. Using headings, subheadings, and bullet points makes your content easier to scan.
- Optimize your meta information. Use relevant keywords in your meta title and description to give search engines an indication of what different pages are about. This may also help users determine if they should click on the link in question on search engine results pages.
- Use Google SEO FAQ schema markup. Adding schema markup to your FAQ pages typically helps search engines understand your content’s structure in a better manner. This can improve the visibility of your page in search results and increase click-through rates.
Is Siri Different?
According to Search Engine Journal, of the three voice assistants it tested in 2020 (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri), Siri was able to answer the most number of its questions, leaving only 2% of them unanswered.
If you’re a business owner, know that Siri relies on Yelp ratings to provide relevant results, so it’s important that you get yours in order. Bear in mind that Siri gives more priority to overall star ratings than the total number of reviews. Other factors that affect answers provided by Siri include distance and pricing.
Optimizing your Yelp listing is important, and you may do so by:
- Adding a detailed description of your business
- Adding your contact details
- Adding photographs of your business
- Choosing relevant categories
- Using relevant keywords when writing content for your Yelp page
- Responding to customer reviews
Understanding the nature of voice searches will help online marketers and search engines deliver more relevant content to users. While all the 12 strategies discussed above aim to improve voice search optimization, there might be others that could work well in your specific scenario. This is why working with a digital agency that has expertise in improving ranking for voice searches might be in your best interest.