If you sometimes get the feeling that SEO is a constantly moving target, you would not be wrong!  There’s a reason why many marketing professionals make a career out of being technical SEOs. SEO, or search engine optimization, is important in getting your website found online. As Google continues to become more sophisticated, so does SEO. The latest buzz is about voice search which of course begs the questions: what is it, how do you go about optimizing for voice search, and should you even care?

What is voice search?

People are acting like voice search is the latest and greatest thing, but it’s actually been around for awhile. The first time you spoke into your phone and said, “OK Google…” is when voice search began. Voice search is a speech recognition technology that allows users to search by saying terms aloud rather than typing them into a search field. The proliferation of smartphones and other small, Web-enabled mobile devices has spurred interest in voice search. Voice search applications such as Google Mobile App with Voice rely on speech recognition programs. Voice search can be done through a mobile device or on your computer if you have a microphone. Basically a query is spoken, and then the device starts the query based on the spoken word.

Why small business websites should care about voice search

Now that you get the premise, you might be wondering, typing…talking…it’s all the same right?  Well….not really. Here are a few facts to help illustrate why you should care. A 2018 article by Forbes noted that one study showed voice searches increased more than 35-fold between 2008 and 2016. In another article, more than 40 percent of adults used voice-based search on a daily basis in 2016. And finally, predictions by ComScore estimate that more than 50 percent of searches will be voice-based by 2020. Don’t you want your small business to get a piece of that action?  Thought so…and don’t forget, voice search also adds accessibility for those with physical limitations who may not be able to easily type in a search on a keyboard or smartphone. Another interesting point is that voice search is now available in several languages, again opening up accessibility.

How to optimize your website for voice search

Voice search is here to stay and will continue to rise in popularity. Is your website ready for voice search?  Let’s take a look at how to find out and what to do if it’s not. First, consider these voice search facts presented by Neil Patel:

  1. Voice queries contain conversational words and are longer.
  2. 22% of voice queries are for local or geo-targeted content.
  3. Users want immediate results

Granted, #3 is a given because everyone wants immediate results all the time, but it becomes even more critical with voice search. Think about it:  if you’re driving along and have a hankering for sushi, you’re going to say something like (footing this to the list above):

Google voice search“OK Google, where can I find a sushi restaurant near the shopping mall off of the 60 freeway in Mesa?”. This search is 1. conversational and longer, 2. looking for local content, and 3. immediate in need. Depending on your business, you may be wondering how you could possibly optimize for voice search for every product or service you offer. Don’t despair!  Keep reading for some good tips on optimizing for voice search.

A few simple ways to start optimizing your website for voice search

Below are some simple steps to start with to better optimize your site:

  • Use conversational keyword phrases – people don’t search for “marketing consultant in Mesa” when doing voice search. They say something like, “Who are the best small business marketing consultants in Mesa?” Your keyword strategy for new content should be more conversational in nature and mimic how people talk and ask questions verbally. Start thinking about the types of questions you get when people ask questions about your business, then start leveraging the exact words in your content.
  • Consider a frequently asked questions page – voice search is about questions being asked and answered. And isn’t that what an FAQ page is?  People love FAQ pages and even more important, Google loves them as seen by the featured snippets that pop up occasionally in search results when you ask a question. A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s query, which is displayed on top of Google search results. It’s extracted from a webpage, and includes the page’s title and URL.
  • Be sure to take a NAP – sorry, but “NAP” means name, address and phone number, and you need to make sure yours are consistently listed across all websites and easily read on your own site. Again, local searches are big in voice search, so make your NAP obvious to searchers and search engines.
  • Make sure your Google My Business listing is accurate and up to date – Google loves Google more than anything, and GMB is a big part of how easily your business is found for local queries. Make sure it’s up to date with accurate info, and update it frequently with posts, images, etc.
  • Organize your content so it’s easy to skim – if someone is searching on a phone, they’re going to look at your site from their phone. Make sure it’s easy to skim through to quickly find the information they need.

The above are just a few easy ways to start optimizing for voice search. If you’re unsure how to go about doing this, or feel you need technical assistance, engage the services of a marketing professional that understands voice search. It’s important, and your business can benefit tremendously from it!

Patty Hughes
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