Best Voice Search SEO Strategies in 2020
February 4, 2020 | ComboApp Team

Best Voice Search SEO Strategies in 2020

The way we interact with the web is constantly changing. Before smartphones took over, the vast majority of search queries came from desktop computers. Now, the search landscape is in the middle of yet another dramatic transformation, with increasingly many queries coming from various voice-controlled devices and applications, such as virtual assistants, smart speakers, and car systems with support for speech recognition.

The rise of voice search was predicted years ago. In 2018, Forbes contributor Gabriel Shaoolian forecast that 30 percent of all website sessions would be conducted without a screen as a result of improvements in audio technology and speech recognition. Indeed, we’re now surrounded by devices that constantly listen to our questions and commands, constantly ready to answer.

But is your business ready for the era of voice search SEO? Do you know how to optimize for voice search and turn user queries into leads and paying customers? By learning and implementing some of the most effective voice search optimization strategies in 2020, you’ll become able to reach the ears of customers in your local area and around the world.

What Is Voice Search SEO?

Google, Bing, and Yandex are at the center of the modern web. They represent the starting points of most online journeys, and some people even think they’re the internet itself. According to recent statistics, Google now processes approximately 40,000 user queries every second, or a little over 3.5 billion searches per day.

In the past, virtually all queries were entered by typing, first on desktop computers and then on mobile devices. Now, users can surf the web through spoken commands thanks to voice search engines implemented by all leading search providers.

For businesses whose customers arrive mainly from search engines, voice commands change the game dramatically.

When you type a query into Google, you receive a whole page of results sorted by their relevance, and it’s up to you to select which website you want to see. That’s not how voice search works. In this case, the answer to your query is automatically pulled from the featured snippet, which is a special box that sits above all other search results and contains a concise, direct answer to the user’s query.

Whereas normal search results are selected based on ranking factors such as domain age, keywords, content length, page loading speed, image optimization, content recency, link quality, grammar and spelling, and hundreds of others, the featured snippet is selected chiefly based on its ability to completely answer the user’s query.

Develop SEO strategy for marketing a product

Businesses that embrace voice search marketing and optimize their website content can skip straight to the first place in search results, earning them guaranteed visitors who most likely won’t bother checking other sites.

The Growing Importance of Voice Search SEO

A report from Juniper Research estimates that there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023, up from the 2.5 billion in use at the end of 2018. Already, 71 percent of those surveyed by PWC would rather use their voice assistant than type in the query on their desktop computer or mobile device.

The fact that so many people would rather search by voice has everything to do with our natural preference for speech over typing. A query such as “What’s the weather today?” seems completely natural because that’s exactly what we would say when asking a friend for the same information. On the other hand, typing something like “weather today in Chicago” into Google instantly reminds us that we’re interacting with a computer program.

Besides feeling more natural, searching by voice is also faster and less distracting. When driving on a busy highway, would you rather ask Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri to give you the directions to the nearest rest stop or fumble for your smartphone and risk getting yourself and other people injured? Even when cooking dinner, it’s much more convenient to ask a voice assistant for advice than look for it the old-fashion way, with hands messy from cooking.

The number of voice-enabled devices in the average household will only continue to increase and motivate people of all ages to search by voice. Businesses that would like to capitalize on the latest voice search trends must start optimizing their websites right now before everyone else catches up, and competition becomes too fierce.

How to Optimize for Voice Search? 5 Proven Strategies for 2020

You don’t need to become a voice search SEO expert to improve your website ranking and gain more visitors. Some of the most effective voice search optimization strategies in 2020 are just as easy to implement as changing voice search settings on a mobile device.

1. Answer Commonly Asked Questions

Multiple surveys have revealed that people who use voice commands feel like they’re talking to a friend. They’re much more likely to use natural language and ask longer questions. If you run a plumbing business, make sure your website directly answers questions such as “How to fix a leaking faucet?” or “What should I do when my dishwasher is leaking?”

These and other similar questions are exactly what someone who’s in the middle of an emergency would ask a voice assistant to find help as quickly as possible. Likewise, you can implement the same strategy as the owner of a food and recipe website, answering questions such as “What temperature should cooked chicken be?” or “How to prepare tofu?”

how to optimize for voice search with FAQ structured data markup

You can even create a dedicated FAQ page with multiple questions and answers. Just make sure to focus on conversational, long-tail keyword phrases because most voice queries involve the use of natural language. However, just because both the questions and the answers to them should have a conversational tone doesn’t mean you can throw grammar out the window. Likewise, all questions have the right HTML tags around them (typically <h2> or <h3>) to make it easier for search engines to find them.

2. Perfect Your Local SEO

It’s a known fact that 22 percent of voice queries are looking for location-based content. When a person asks Siri, “Where’s the nearest hairdresser?” she’s not interested in hairdressers in another city or even on the other side of the city where she lives regardless of how much content they have on their site and how many high-authority backlinks they’ve gathered over the years. She’s interested in the hairdresser who’s actually the closest to her.

Start by setting up your Google My Business profile. The more information you include in your public profile, the better. Your customers will want to know your exact business address, contact details, and opening hours. You should have the same information published on your website and social media to reinforce its accuracy and relevancy.

optimize for voice search with google my business

When creating content for your website, make sure to include local keywords, such as the name of your city. Instead of publishing an article titled “5 hairstyle tips for women,” use a title that will speak more directly to customers who live in your local area, such as “5 hairstyle tips for women to survive Chicago weather.”

3. Make Your Website Faster

Currently, most people use voice queries on mobile devices. Often, they’re connected to the internet using mobile data, and they have no interest in visiting websites that don’t provide a polished mobile experience. Voice search engines understand this, and they prioritize websites that are responsive, load fast, avoid Flash, and use structured data, among other things.

Google’s Mobile Friendly Test provides what’s arguably the most straightforward way to determine if a website is deemed mobile-friendly. There’s also Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which gives useful advice on how to make websites perform better on mobile devices.

page load speed optimization for voice search seo

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website at the moment, and you’re determined to fix this issue, remember that it’s always better to start from the ground up instead of hosting a separate version of your website for mobile devices. A single responsive website will always be easier and cheaper to maintain instead of two versions of the same site.

Once you have a solid foundation to build on, you can experiment with content caching, content delivery networks, and other performance-optimization methods. It may seem like a lot of effort for slightly faster page load times, but you need to remember that every additional second makes it much more likely for your visitors to close your site and visit your competition instead.

4. Embrace Structured Data

Voice search engines work hard to understand the content of web pages and select the most relevant information. You can make this difficult job easier for them by adding structured data code to your HTML markup. Here’s Google’s example of structured data that you may find on a contact page:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "https://schema.org",
  "@type": "Organization",
  "url": "http://www.example.com",
  "name": "Unlimited Ball Bearings Corp.",
  "contactPoint": {
    "@type": "ContactPoint",
    "telephone": "+1-401-555-1212",
    "contactType": "Customer service"
  }
}
</script>

Structured data makes it possible for search engines to create rich snippets, which are known to receive a lot more clicks than regular top results.

Structured data formats typically use schema.org vocabulary, and each major search engine provides its own documentation that’s specific to its web crawlers. Google makes things really easy for web developers with its Structured Data Testing Tool, which checks structured data code and flags any errors it encounters.

voice search seo using structured data

5. Create Valuable Content

Anyone who knows anything about SEO will tell you that the only timeless voice search SEO strategy is to produce valuable content. Yes, there are many ways how you can nudge search engines toward your site, but they all amount to very little unless your site is packed with articles people want to read, products they want to buy, and services they would be more than happy to pay for.

Conclusion

Voice query is the latest chapter in the evolution of search engines, allowing users to obtain information from the web with natural voice commands. As is always the case when the search paradigm changes, voice search SEO gives businesses an enormous opportunity to get their websites featured at the very top of search results. The key is to get started with voice search optimization before everyone else does.

For a limited time, ComboApp is offering free SEO audits to marketers interested in taking their SEO and content strategy to the next level. Interested? Let’s talk.

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