The way people search the internet is rapidly evolving. Voice search has been with us for many years now, but it is only really starting to make waves in 2018. Gone were the days where devices used to be clumsy and tend to have a high error rate when it comes to recognising human speech. We have witnessed a surge of people using voice search on their mobile devices, tablets, desktops and intelligent personal assistants. That being said, if you are able to anticipate, measure and optimise for organic voice data, you will most likely gain an upper hand against your online competitors. Optimising your website for voice search is significantly different from optimising for desktop or mobile search. Therefore it requires a whole new set of tactics and strategies.
1. Optimise content for long-tail conversational keywords
Your keywords strategy will need to account for long-tail conversational keywords. Ideally, you’ll want to mimic how real people talk and ask questions because that is how they are going to conduct their voice searches. Think about the type of questions you always get from your customers or prospects. What is the exact choice of words or figures of speech used when they try to find out more about your business? If for some reason you can’t always be physically present at the front line, then rope in your customer service representatives or sales personnel on this. Perhaps get them to record voice clips of how they naturally interact with the customers to aid in your analysis. Make sure to get your customers’ consent before doing this. Once you have identified the list of questions or statements, you may then proceed to create relevant content pages that focus on those long-tail conversational keywords. All this might seem to be a lot of hard work, but in the long run, the effort will eventually pay off.
2. Claim and optimise your Google My Business page
The Google My Business (GMB) listing has been around for quite some time now. To improve your visibility for voice search, it is imperative that you keep your GMB page updated and optimised. This is where Google learns of your business name, address, phone number, business category, business hours and other information about your business. Having said that, why is GMB so important for voice search? For one, we generally trust the contact information listed on a verified GMB. Secondly, we already know that most voice searches are local searches, so we want to increase our chances of showing up whenever someone uses voice search to look for a local business, location or business category. Thirdly, the GMB listing is directly integrated with Google Maps to easily guide the customers to your business location. For example, if one voice searches for “Where can I find pizza restaurants near me?”, GMB will return the location and phone number of the closest pizza restaurant relative to the user. Having a well optimised Google My Business listing can capture those consumer micro-moments, right as they happen and convert them into actual sales.
3. Optimise your FAQ pages to answer the most common queries
Since voice search queries tend to start with the 5W and 1H: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, you should always strive to answer these queries with your FAQ pages in a manner that is brief and comprehensive. While crafting your page for frequently asked questions, you may group common questions on the same page and focus on long tail conversational keywords. Instead of the traditional short-tail SEO keywords, you may want to go for questions and phrases that are more natural-sounding, the ones that you actually use in your day-to-day casual conversations. For example, if one is looking for the “best Italian restaurants in KL”, one may activate a voice search with conversational tone of “Hey, may I know what are the best restaurants serving Italian cuisine in KL? ”. It is also worth integrating more Q&A writing style for your content, for non-FAQ pages. If you make it easier for Google to pull a featured snippet from your page, the more visibility you will get, all which will be further expanded in point number 5 of this article.
4. Anticipate the emergence of highly specific voice searches with niche pages
Generic text searches such as “best Italian restaurant in KL” may start to decline. With voice search, expect to see very specific search queries such as “Where can I find the best Italian restaurant in KL that serves lobster and caviar with a Petronas Twin Tower view?” to pick up in popularity. When optimising for specific voice searches like this, see if you can offer short and concise answers to the anticipated questions. You might want to create additional pages with content snippets just to target these specific voice queries. A good way to do this is by consistently posting quality blog posts answering questions from your target audience. If you’re able to answer these semantic questions satisfactorily, you will greatly increase the odds of your website showing up in voice search results. For a bonus, you might just appear in Google’s featured snippet, which brings us to the next and final point.
5. Applying schema markup to add structured data to your website
Having a structured rich data markup also substantially increase the chances of your website appearing in Google’s featured snippet, also known as the highly prized “position zero” on Google. Search engines are performing reasonably well in understanding the literal content of your website. However, search engines are far from perfect and they often have trouble deciphering the intended context and meaning of the words. This is where schema markup plays a very important role. By deliberately organising the data on your webpage according to the universal standards set forth in Schema.org, you will help search engines better comprehend the implied meaning of your content. Since a voice search query can only return one best answer, it will tend to cite the featured snippet (if there is one), and your website will be cited as the authoritative source of the information provided. Additionally, submit a detailed sitemap of your website to Google, and ensure that your structured data pages are not blocked using robots.txt or htaccess file. Last but not the least, make your website mobile friendly with responsive web design.
In conclusion, a better understanding of voice search queries will allow us to match the consumer demand and serve the users with the most relevant information, products or services. In other words, small businesses and local search marketers can and will capitalise on the power of voice search to bring the users to exactly what they are hoping to find.
While you’re here, read the following article to see how voice search is going to impact our search behavior and SEO.