Voice Search Optimization (VSO) has been around for quite some time now. Many businesses use this approach to increase the number of visitors to their websites. VSO can be used in numerous protocols, such as Google, Amazon, Siri, Windows, Cortana, and many others. How does this work? Voice search brings out a list of results after users ask a question through speech recognition technology. The existence of VSO can be traced to voice recognition technology popularized by many brand names, including Siri.
HOW IT LOOKED LIKE IN THE PAST
Voice search optimization began with voice recognition technology. The Bell Laboratories started this when they designed the first computerized voice recognition technology in 1952. They named it “Audrey.” IBM followed in 1962, and in 2012, Apple introduced Siri and Google introduced Google Now in 2014. Since then, voice recognition evolved into a useful tool with speakers that are capable of recognizing voices and searching. Have you heard of Alexa, Cortana, and Siri?
WHY VSO WORKS
The convenience that voice search optimizations bring to those who are using either desktop or mobile devices in looking for facts and products online is commendable. You do not have to type on your mobile phones and suffer from pressing the right letters because the voice recognition software in many devices is ready to assist your customers in looking for you. In just a breeze, a person can just ask Google or Siri to look for something on the internet and get the answers straight and read clearly.
Statistics show that voice search is here to stay longer. Grocery shopping has accounted for already more than 20% of voice-based orders as of May 2020. More and more consumers are using voice search optimization. They are most likely to spend more via voice assistance in 2022. By then, consumer spending via voice assistants will have reached 18%.
Almost all of the people around the world are Smartphone users. Within the overall population, there have been 60% of smartphone users who accessed searches one within the 12 months that passed. What more, 55% of teenagers use voice search every day. Alpine.AI reported that as of January 2018, an estimated one billion voice searches per month has been recorded. The numbers speak for themselves.
Because there are more than 66 million Americans now using smart speakers as of 2019, more and more people find voice search useful. BrightLocal found that 75% of smart-speaker owners search for local businesses at least once a week and they do it to make food and drink reservations (54%), know about the price of products from local businesses (46%), and book a beauty appointment (35%).
Furthermore, there is a brighter future ahead for voice search since the success in shipping smart speakers by about 200% in the third quarter of 2018. Along with this rise of sales, a study has found out that 61% of those in the 25-74 age bracket claim they will use voice devices more in the near future.
HOW TO MAKE VSO WORK FOR YOU
There are very many definitive ways to for you to take advantage of VSO. The variation begins with understanding how VSO works to knowing the customer better, getting to know the right words and search phrases, optimizing your website, and more.
As you read this guide to voice search optimization, check on what you have tried, and what you have not to make sure you get the best out of this helpful way to increase your site’s visits and conversion.
MICRO-MOMENTS FOR MACRO RESULTS
Micro-moments are opportunities where a person intends to buy, try, or commit. It is important to consider the motivation of consumers who use voice searches. Often, they search out of curiosity or interest. They search because they want to know, they want to go, they want to do, or they want to buy. Your business needs to position itself carefully to help your target consumers’ move from interest to action with these micro-moments. These are windows to conversion for the business. How can you do this?
Target the people who are likely the ones to experience these micro-moments with your product to open a skyrocketing opportunity for your business.
Structure your website content according to the pattern: what consumers want to know, why the need to go, why they need you, and why they should buy now.
Voice search works when someone uses speech recognition to ask a question online. The result is read aloud or enumerated by the tool to help the searcher find what he or she wants. How should your website get being read in a voice search? This is done through snippets. The
The length of the words matters when a snippet is made. Before we talk about how snippets work, let us first understand how different typed search and voice search are.
Voice search questions are longer than the searched phrases, but not too long. Non-voice search or typed search uses specific phrases to arrive at more specific results. Voice search works differently. Customers who look for the right product or service are more likely to look for them by asking a question or typing a long-phrase. Formulating the possible questions commonly asked by consumers of services or products of your business is a great way to keep you ahead. The same goes for the phrases that may be searched by prospects of your business. Why is this so? People behave differently when they speak and when they write. The customers and prospects of your business will type a few words but will say a lot. Here is a clear scenario. When a couple decides to go somewhere for dinner, they will most likely type “restaurants near me.” But if they were to use voice search, they will most likely say, “Which restaurant is near me?” These series of words that define and refine searches are called long-tail keywords.
Businesses simply need to list keywords based on people’s choice of words. Listening to the conversations of the people around about business or products will help you identify the important words your customers might say in searching.
WORD LENGTH AND SEARCH PHRASES
How can you make a phrase that is not too long, and not too short?
Above 20% of voice searches are triggered by a mixture of only 25 keywords. Most searches begin with “how,” “what,” and “best.” What does this entail? Voice Search Optimization is dependent on the keywords. These keywords work best with the most common search phrases.
There is a hierarchy to be followed when choosing the beginning words. Voice Search Optimization creates higher conversions accordingly so businesses need to be aware of them. Search phrases that begin with “what” or “who” come from interested people. As these search phrases shift from these words to “how”, “when”, and “where”, the shift from interest to ready to act increases. This level of commitment previews the possibility of conversion.
Brian Dean did a study about voice search and was able to find out that Google answers voice searches in an average of 29-word results. You can beat your competition at being picked as the answer by keeping your word count for your answers within 30 words only.
FOCUS ON QUESTIONS
Since many consumers now own voice-activated speakers, businesses like yours should learn to adapt. This means that your content strategy should have a touch of being conversational towards your target market. Why is this so? These voice-activated speakers and other devices that use voice recognition create a conversation like communication with the customers. Focusing on the questions that customers usually throw at these devices is a key element to succeed in the use of voice search. What are they most likely going to ask? Once you have figured out the questions related to your business that your target visitors are most likely to ask via voice search, you can now carefully tailor the answers to the question well. You can do this with clear and accurate responses for you to gain a click and conversion.
FILLER TERMS AND THE ‘NEAR ME’ PHRASEM
The choice of words matters a lot in creating search phrases for your website. As mentioned before, conversational phrases are used in searching for products and services online through voice search. This is why fillers work well in making sure you are visible. How do fillers look like? A filler is a word that is not considered a keyword in the sentence. An example of using filler words in your long-tail keywords is shifting the “benefits of bulk orders,” into “What are THE benefits OF bulk orders.
“Near me” does not automatically fall under filler words but this phrase specifies what the customer is trying to voice search. The search phrase that ends with a “near me” contextualizes and specifies the need and the expected output of the voice search, saving time and hassle for the customer and ensuring conversion.
So how can you make the “near me” phrase work for you? Use keywords and phrases that people might use to specify your location or neighborhood on your site, in the title tags, meta descriptions, internal links, anchor text, and so on. Mention your city and the surrounding places of your business. If there is a landmark or relevant institutions near your business location, take advantage of that, too.
LONG TAIL KEYWORDS AND QUESTION PHRASES PLUS RANK UP
Tools like Ahref assist you well in looking for the best keywords and question phrases. If you have tried using this tool and the like, you might find the “Also rank for” section. The access to loads of related keywords is updated with their traffic potential so you get a preview of how to rank up higher than your competition with your choice of words.
How do you find the best keywords? You can try Answer the Public and generate a question. The site will lead you to the keywords you can choose from. Here is a sample generated by the site.
While the site is free for the first two questions, you can move to a pro version to ask more or use Keywordtool, Wordtracker, or other sites to help you.
Have a Google My Business account and keep it updated with enough relevant and important information. This will make it easier for customers to easily find it. What comprises this relevant information? You may include office hours, contact details, address, pictures, accurate categories about your business (what it sells), and your introduction fields that should contain the most relevant keywords about your business. Always submit a detailed sitemap to Google.
UPDATE YOUR BUSINESS LISTINGS
If you do not have one yet, you can simply make now! Here are ways to get there.
Prepare all the important information about your business. This will make creating your Google My Business listing easy.
Log into your Google Account
Create a Google Account for your business if you do not have an account yet. The most appropriate email is the Gmail address for your business which will be necessary to create a Google My Business Listing. Make sure to use your business phone number and the details of your business. To make this a professional account, do not use your personal contact information and other personal details.
Fill out your Google My Business Listing.
After logging into your Google Account, fill out your Google My Business listing. Enter the important details correctly. A mistake done in this process confuses the customers and prevents Google from using your business details for your benefit. Add all the basics of your business.
Pick a method to verify your listing. Be sure to do this so your listing has a higher chance to go up. You can either verify through a phone number or your email.
Add information and more.
After verification, fill in the required information about your business. Include the hours when you are open, the days when you are closed, and other information you want to emphasize. You must also add a photo of your business. The photo you have previews your business to your potential customers. A video will help engage your customers in your business. Invite them to visit your store but keep the video short and simple.
Take care of your audience.
Once the listing is set up, wait for the questions you might get and take action by answering them. Reply to questions with a clear and concise answer. Also, put a preview of your service by doing a service review which you can do by writing it yourself or by asking a writer to do the review.
After you have improved on the website content of your business, it is high time you check your website to create a better user interface. There are many ways to do this. We have included two very important ways.
THE MARKUP SCHEMA
A more “crawlable” site is one that tells Google what the information on your site is. Google can precisely find information if you tag it with a particular property, such as an address, email, and author. It will find that related specific information on your site and present it to the one who did the voice search.
You can use schema markup with the Structured Data Markup Helper. You can do the markup by visiting The Structured Data Markup Helper powered by Google. Just do the following.
Choose the type of page you want to create structured data for and enter the URL. This helps you add structured data markup to a chosen sample web page. Do not forget to select a data type and paste the URL or HTML source of the page that you want to mark up. You can choose from articles, events, movies, book reviews, and so on.
You can start tagging everything that applies to your site. Then, you can click “Create HTML.” As you do this with as many pages of your site, you get a higher chance of being in featured snippets and a good voice search resource.
MOBILE-RESPONSIVE WEBSITES ARE IMPORTANT
You already know that mobile devices are a go-to choice for many consumers nowadays, but have you made your website ready and convenient for your visitors? Your website should adapt to the mobile, tablet, and desktop devices well. What makes website competition tough for many businesses that share the same niche is how each finds a way to create a good user interface, bringing in a good experience to the visitors through easy navigation.
How do you make sure that your website is adaptive to mobile device searches? You can test them on platforms such as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, mobiReady, and many more. Be sure to test your website’s responsiveness using the platforms mentioned. You do not want to let that potential customer jump from your site into another simply because your website is not highly compatible with mobile devices.
To check whether your website is mobile responsive enough, try answering these questions.
- Is the information my visitors are looking for easy to find?
- Do I keep the web design simple?
- Are the buttons big enough to work on mobile?
- Are the font sizes clear?
- Did I include viewpoint meta tags?
- Is the website’s autocorrect for forms turned off?
- Is there an option for the user to switch to a desktop view?
- Do I test my website performance often?
These questions will help you identify which rooms to improve as you make your website mobile-ready.
SHORTEN YOUR LOAD TIMES
Why stay on a page that takes too long to load? Voice searching is practical for those who do not want to take time typing the words they want to look for. As a business, you have to be aware that time matters very much in this case. Your website’s load time directly affects the bounce rate. The longer the time the customer waits for the site to load, the higher the chance the customer would leave.
Faster webpages are more likely capable of making conversions. A study revealed that an additional second of load time significantly reduces conversion by 7% and improving load page can cause a speed result in 62% more.
Here are very easy ways to make your site load faster.
Check the speed of your website.
By analyzing your current page speed, you can check whether the changes you make improved your page load times. You can use Pingdom which is very easy to use. This tool works by mimicking the way a page is loaded in a browser. Another option is Page Speed. This tool helps in assessing web page performance and is an open-source Firefox add-on. The good thing about this tool is its capability to suggest ways in fixing your web performance. Another option you can use is Web Page Test. This is what you use if you want to know how fast your website performs in different browsers.
Run your own CDN.
Servers that are closest to the physical location of the user allows for faster loading of data. Content Delivery Networks are used by big websites because they know that it is what gives a fast and accessible experience.
Choose adoptive images.
Use tools like Picturefull on your website so you can save bandwidth and improve your site’s page speed. You can also try Adaptive Images. Adopting image formats such as WebP and Jpeg XR reduces the weight of the image on your site.
Cache helps your page load faster.
Storing cache versions hastens page speed and at the same time lowers lags on your server. As your user visits a page on your website, the cached version is displayed. As this happens, the browser saves a lot of the requests to your server while improving the load speed for your site.
Take a look at your plugins.
While plugins help in improving website functionality and features, its number can slow down a web page to load. Moreover, plugins that are outdated slows down your website. Make sure you remove duplicated, plugins, and useless plugins from your site.
Compress your content to improve your website.
A 301 redirection forces a browser to go to a new URL. As this happens, the page-loading slows down. Make sure you minimize 301 redirections to maintain the page load speed you want.
A FAQ page’s purpose is to relieve the need of online customer support. Since businesses get the same questions again and again, an option to just answer these questions once and for all takes away the tedious, and sometimes the inefficient job of answering the customers one by one and as soon as possible. FAQ pages are the simplest and fastest way to respond to questions from your visitors and your loyal customers.
FAQ pages for every subject in your site do not just quickly address commonly asked questions about your business. They are a great means to be visible through voice search. Figure out how your customers describe your products and the questions they ask. Once you figure these out and put these in your FAQ page, your chance of landing on the top spot in a voice search query is high.
Here are ways to improve your FAQ page.
- As much as possible, use FAQ pages as a last resort so it does not get overloaded with information and confusing to the readers.
- Organize the page by group and by category to make it easy for visitors to find what they need.
- Make the contents the most frequently asked questions only.
- Use your customer’s language to build rapport and clarify your answers efficiently.
- Provide the visuals through sample images or screenshots.
- Beware of font sizing and headlining so your customers can scan quickly.
- Add a search option for your customers so they have a chance to know more.
- Keep the page customer-focused and solution centered.
IMPROVE SITE QUALITIES
Make sure that your restricted data pages are not blocked. You can use robot.txt and other methods to control this problem. Check your site speed. Structured data and be a great help, too. Most importantly, your site should have a good domain rating.
You can rank higher for certain keywords of authority backlinks, but for this to happen, you need to consider many factors. Before you go and consider each for a revamp of your site authority, try to figure out what your site’s domain authority is by using a free tool called Open Site Explorer (OSE). Now here are the factors that comprise your website’s domain authority as compiled by SEO Siren:
- Link diversity/Quality
- Number of Links
- Social Media Mentions
- Domain Age
- Brand Search Volume
Since ranking or site authority is dependent on these factors (and many others not mentioned by SEO Siren), you can start working your way to the top by considering any of them one step at the time. Maybe start with social media mentions or link diversity can help you take a few steps forward to your goal.
BRING IN CONTENT MARKETING
Numerous voice searchers look for answers about how to do something. That could be fixing their car or cooking a new recipe. Look for content marketing topics that your target consumers are most likely looking for. Use them to get these target consumers into your side. Do some keyword search and tailor content marketing that targets those exact keywords. This top-of-the-funnel SEO strategy helps to generate traffic to your website.
What do you do to make sure your website loads quickly enough to keep your visitor’s attention? Start by testing your website’s load speed. You can do this with Pingdom, LoadView, GTmetrix, WebPageTest, and the like.
GET TO KNOW THE CONTENT THAT WORKS FOR VSO
Informational intent (guides, how-tos, etc.), Navigational intent (store location, services, press releases, customer service information), Transactional intent (videos, product information, etc). As you create the content, consider the questions your customers might ask. With this, voice search questions will lead to your answer. Are there tools to help you with this? Yes. Some tools are available to help you find the keywords and the relevant questions asked by people online. You can use Google Trends, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and more.
If you are not quite comfortable about your content’s readability, you can simply use a tool like Hemingway Editor, WebFX, Readable, and more.
The content’s length and quality matter in writing. Concise content is necessary since users require fast answers. Not getting what they need will prompt them to ask another question to their device until they find what they want and it might not be your content.
SNIPPETS AND YOUR WEBSITE
The snippet of your content or your business is what comes out. Voice searches done with technologies like Alexa no longer present the 10 blue listings that voice searches find online. Instead, snippets are read back after a voice search. Right after a user asks a question and does not get the answer they want, they ask another right away until they find what they are looking for. That is if they are not willing to click on the listings they find.
Always make sure to have a snippet ready ahead and make it conversational, as well as long and highly specific. The snippet’s answer should be quick and high-quality. Your users are sure to stick with you instead of jump voice search after voice search to get the answers they need.
How should your snippets look like? Besides targeting the questions people are asking, being creative with your content should be taken seriously. You may use words alone and they can be enough but you can also prepare videos, images, and infographics. Also, remember that you are making these snippets not for robots but humans. Conversational content is a great way to engage visitors. Above all, your snippet should answer the question.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY
Did you know that the average voice search result has 1,199 Facebook shares and 44 Tweets? Voice assistants are inclined to content that has social media platform engagements. Stay active on social media to make sure you get a good share of the search results for voice search.
You do not need to keep buying ads to make your business visible on social media. Here are some tips to help you get social media mentions and increase your ranking.
Create social communities that create conversations with your target buyers and your current customers.
People prefer videos from reading content about almost anything from entertainment to marketing. To take advantage of that, go live and engage your viewers with useful content.
Stay constantly engaged.
Respond to comments on posts and do not forget to create a call to action with each post. While doing this, try to share your content as often as possible anywhere you can. Facebook is just one platform. There are many other social media platforms that you can use.
Create interaction through content that goes beyond pictures.
You can try branded business GIFs, boomerangs, Question, and Answer live sessions, polls, surveys, Instagram stories, or Giveaways.
Be human and stay human.
Let people know your company on a personal level. Share how your company works, a brief history of how your business came to be, an interview with a manager or the CEO, a tour of your facility, and a sneak peek of what your company is making. These are just some of the things you can do in social media to show a face that people are curious about or can relate to. Plus, you can also share pictures and quotes your employees are willing to share.
Help sells more than the product itself.
Hard selling no longer works as efficiently as it does before especially when done in social media. Being helpful makes your business go viral.
There is a great time to share social messages.
Your target audience is active at a specific time of the day. Use this to your advantage by scheduling your posts so you can engage your followers. The question is, “When is a great time to post in your social media?” There is no such thing as one specific time to post because the time to post may not fall into the same target age bracket, career, and individual schedules. But if you are keen on finding out which is a great time for you to post your content, you can use Hootsuite, CrowdFire, and other similar tools the patterns of your followers.
Emotional headlines generate shares and clicks for your business.
Creating that social media buzz is easy if you know what moves people’s interests and actions. Your followers want to feel. Use your social media to create an emotional involvement on your followers. Perhaps you could write about what can be done to achieve the desired result, ways to produce the desired result, or what is the best thing to do achieve a desirable outcome. A how-to content, a list, or a question headline engages your followers who are reading them. Of course, you should not forget that your content needs to stay connected with who you are as a business and what you can do.
UNDERSTANDING VOICE SEARCH BETTER
Since voice search is new, understanding it can help you design your keywords better. Test using different devices such as Smart Speakers, Mobile or Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. What results do they generate? Build on what you find out. Better yet, try to check which key terms come out as you search the same questions your customers might ask. How will you lead them into clicking your site? What difference should you make to land in the first three lists provided by a browser after a quick voice search?
AVOID THESE ERRORS
We already have a great idea about how to maximize the use of voice search for businesses, but what errors should we avoid? Here are things you need to make sure to avoid at all costs.
Operating WITHOUT a Google My Business Listing
This has been discussed previously. As a reiteration, keep in mind that you fall behind your competition if you do not have this.
Disregard Customer Interaction
Disregarding customer interaction pulls your reputation down. This interaction can already be achieved through the FAQ page of your site, but you can also choose to answer the questions posted on your site, or have a customer service representative get in touch with the questions and concerns addressed to you by your customers through email or chat.
Not replying to Customer Reviews.
Reviews either build a reputation or tear it down. Replying to customer reviews helps you establish a connection and care for your customers.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON VOICE SEARCH
As you optimize your website for voice search, remember that your visibility online directly affects the logarithms for domain authority so is the age of your website. If you have not optimized your site and done all these definitive steps in favor of your business, it is high time you already do. Whether you hire someone to do your VSO or do it on your own, remember that the option you make is for the benefit of your business today and the future.
Lastly, technology is going to evolve every year. As more and more technology becomes available in the market, the challenge of innovating gets tougher for many businesses. Always make a fast and decisive move to keep up with the competition. Falling behind will delay your success further.