15 Ways To Help Your Business Be The #1 Choice In A Voice Search
The Complete Guide To Voice SEO Search Engine Optimization

How popular are you with Siri, Alexa and Cortana? Is your website the one that they think to suggest when a mobile users searches for a product or offer you sell? If you don’t know the answer to these questions then you could be  missing out on a lot of business opportunities.

Many business owners don’t realize just how popular voice search has gotten and as a result they are going to miss out on some serious traffic opportunities!

Here’s how popular Voice Search really is:

  • 1 in 6 Americans now own a Smart Speaker (Source: TechCrunch)
  • 40% of adults now use voice search once per day  (Source: Branded3)
  • By 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches (Source: ComScore)
  • Google’s AI read over 2,865 romance novels in order to improve its conversational search abilities (Source: BuzzFeed News)
  • Voice commerce was a $1.8 billion retail segment in the U.S. in 2017 and $200 million in the U.K.  (Source: Voicebot.ai)
  • 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches (Source: Google)
  • Mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text (Source: Search Engine Watch)
  • 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say their devices are often used as part of their daily routine. (Source: Think With Google)

At this point, it’s not a matter of whether or not you SHOULD adapt your current online strategy to voice search, it’s HOW to do it. The good news is voice search strategies are similar to traditional search strategies and we can use some of the same tactics. 

Voice Search vs Traditional Search – How They are Different

Traditional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) focused on specific keywords and then using those keywords often in your copy. In fact, the more often you used them, the higher your rankings would be but now search engines are now looking for inferences more than specific keywords.

Voice SEO is different because it relies more on conversational speech patterns than repetitive ones. People speak differently than they type, so it’s important to look at your current SEO plan and see how you are using keywords in your copy vs how your copy sounds like a person speaking (semantic search optimization).

The Google Hummingbird algorithm update marked the turning point in SEO when intent based results became the norm vs the traditional keyword based results. This update quickly became an integral part of SEO and what has made voice search possible. 

The algorithm understands context more clearly rather than exact phrases and it’s now important to adopt a more natural, conversational tone with your copywriting and make sure that the language used within your pages are communicating intent in an easy to understand, natural way. 

Another thing that has changed with SEO recently is that the #1 choice in a desktop search might not be the same as the #1 choice with a voice search. This is due to account personalization including location, past search history and other factors when serving you a result. 

This means you might be more popular in a voice search than a desktop search and vice versa depending on the individual who is performing the search and where they are when they are looking. If you have a locally based business it is critical to optimize your website for retail specific details such as location and operating hours.

Now Let’s Look At The Many Ways  Voice Search SEO and Desktop Search SEO Are Similar

1. People have basically four main intentions when they perform a search query whether it is with voice or traditional.

  • I Want To Know – (what is the best way to boil eggs….)
    There are 65% more people looking up information online than there were just a few years ago
  • I Want To Go – (what is the best local family restaurant…)
    There is twice as much interest in local searches ‘near me’ than there was a year ago
  • I Want To Do – (what is the best way to learn how to paint with oils…)
    91% of users turn to their phones when they need ideas to complete tasks.
  • I want to Buy – (What is the best new phone on the market)
    82% of mobile users consult their phones when they are in a retail store and deciding what to buy.

All of these searches are opportunities for your online business to lead a user through the customer journey with your content.  Focus on search behaviors and ‘micro-moments’ that are a deep part of consumer behavior.

Pro Tip: Using the word ‘best’ to describe your brand, product, offer is a good way to increase your Voice SEO and optimize your content for these types of searches.

2. Helping The Right People Find The Most Helpful Solutions is Always The Best Way to Rank Highly Anywhere Online with both Voice Search and Traditional Search.

People search for things online to find solutions to their problems and good marketers figure out ahead of time what those problems are and not only how to solve them but also how to make people aware that they have a solution. 

3. Use Content Marketing To Solve Problems Ahead of Time

Figure out the top 10-20 problems your ideal client has and solve them. Put these solutions online as content for your website, blog and social channels. Write content that answers questions + solves problems directly and efficiently. The ideal length for a headline is 30-60 words and within this range, shorter answers tend to do better than longer answers. 

If in doubt, do some research in Google’s answer box. Start typing in what you think is best and then see what starts to be returned as common queries. Go as long tail as you can without going too far.

4. Be Aware of the Specific AND General Questions People Ask

Such questions usually start with ‘How To…’, ‘What are…’, ‘Where is…’, and you will want to consider your online answers to these questions as they relate to your brand. What can your offer do for your ideal client? How many options do you offer? What are your office hours, location, contact info etc.  Consider all of these and have answers online to be returned as voice search results.

5. Optimize SEO For Specific Devices

According to a survey by NPR and Edison Research, “57 percent of smart speaker owners have ordered something using the device, with the majority of these orders being first-time purchases.”

In other words, the popularity of voice search means huge opportunities for online businesses because it adds to the number of ways for them to be found by consumers.

Voice SEO is very similar to traditional SEO and there are also some specific ways that you can optimize for Amazon Echo and Google Home.

6. Optimizing for Alexa

Amazon Alexa works hand in hand with the Amazon website and prioritizes whichever product is Amazon’s Choice. This choice is decided by popularity on the site, competitive pricing, low return rates and it’s Prime availability and quick shipping. In other words, if your product doesn’t rank highly on Amazon Choice, your chances of ranking highly in Voice Search are not great. The good news is that you do still have a chance though!

Many voice search results will bring up video results which means they exclude Amazon product pages and are more likely to return YouTube videos. To be featured in these results, identify brand-product voice queries (for example, ‘which “melissa and Doug puzzle for toddlers) should I buy’, then create a YouTube video answering that question.

There is another way to get ahead of Amazon in the SEO rankings and that is to be featured in a snippet. Search engines rarely outrank Amazon product pages when it comes to featured snippets. Local search feature optimization is one more way to out-rank Amazon products.

7. Bing Is Also A Thing (think Alexa)

Did you know that Bing not only has the second largest market share in search behind Google but Alexa also uses Bing as her search engine! This is really important because Alexa currently holds 69% of the voice search market with over 39 million units in circulation vs Google home with 14 million units.

8. Optimizing for Google Home

When it comes to your retail business,  you will want to have accurate local listings that relate to the user’s search. Be as specific and current as you can because the voice assistant will use the searchers current location and give them results based on local services by Google My Business, Home Advisor or Porch before pulling organic results.

When it comes to eCommerce, you want to be aware of Google Shopping as an online shopping option. Google Home search results will returns product results via Google Express which allows customers to shop from stores like Walmart, Target, Costco, Walgreens, PetSmart and more (at the same time), from the Google Express App.

All a person has to do is search via voice command with the help of their Google assistant. It will recommend products using the Shopping Actions platform and place the orders for you. 

So if you want to be the first choice on Google Home, you will want to optimize your local listing and also look into being considered as a Google Express Merchant, and fill out their interest form here.

9. Update Your Google My Business Listing for Local SEO

If you haven’t done so already, optimize your Google My Business listing and make sure it is up to date with current information. This will make it much more likely for your business to show up in someone’s voice search result.

10. Make The Most of the Google Search Console

The voice search result that is returned is technically going to be the ‘best’ answer to a query. You are going to want to make sure you not only answer people’s questions but that you provide the BEST answer. The way to do this is to utilize Google Search Console to verify your site and check if your pages are optimized.

11. Optimize Your Site for Mobile Including Page Speed

This is pretty standard for most websites, but you will always want to check things out on your phone before you publish. Up to 20% of consumers do voice searches on mobile devices and voice searches need optimization too. The more mobile friendly your business is, the higher chance you have of ranking highly in a voice search. We

Think fast for mobile and voice search. Users are going to want quick responses to their questions and if they don’t get them, they will move one quickly. Avoid large images or anything else that will slow your page or frustrate users.

12. Look For Answer Box Snippet Opportunities

I am sure you have seen them before, small boxes that seem to directly answer your search question. Personally, I use them all the time because they have actually given me what I was looking for. One of the best ways to rank highly on voice search (and desktop search) is to show up in a snippet by using a long tail keyword as a headline and then a bulletpoint or numbered list of solutions that support the headline (ex: here are x ways to solve my problem). 

If you see an opportunity to write a blog post that answers a specific niche question and is included in a snippet, it’s likely that you can also show up as the voice search result. According to this study by Backlinko, 40.7% of voice search responses came from a Featured Snippet.

13. Use Long Tail Keyword Content Optimization Strategies

Long tail keywords are very specific search terms people use to find things. Fortunately for Voice Search, these types of keywords are more similar to natural language and work well to return valuable results.

This is a great opportunity for you to be very specific in the answers you provide in your content on your site. People are more likely to SPEAK a longer search in natural language then they are to TYPE out the same long search. It is quicker and easier to talk than to type.

PRO TIP: Optimize headlines for short answers to common questions that may be asked in a voice search. 

Example of this: Search Query “what’s the best place to find a nice gift for my husband?’ – Blog Post – Headline/Answer would be – “The best place to find a nice gift for your husband is at Joe’s Tackle Shop in Plain, Nebraska and here’s the 7 reasons why)” 

You can see how the query is the question and your blog headline is the answer. It also has a number of reasons why which will put it more likely to show up as a ‘Featured Snippet’.

14. Use Schema Markup Language On Your Top Website Pages

Use Schema markup to create rich descriptions on your pages and helps improve search results by giving Google a better picture of what your page is all about. It also helps the search algorithms  to understand the purpose of your page and how it helps consumers solve their problems.

When it comes to voice search Schemas, Google’s new ‘Speakable’ markup is currently only being used for news sites only but when it expands to ecommerce platforms, it will allow businesses to choose what information smart devices read aloud and tailor results accordingly.

15. Don’t Miss Out On Google’s ‘Speakable’ Schema.Org Markup

You might have heard (or might not of heard) of a new Schema.Org specification called ‘Speakable’. This is markup you can add to the HTML on your page in order to help Google Assistant and Google Home choose which content to read aloud. 

Right now this markup is mainly limited to news content and can help articles be read aloud in snippets as voice search results. Eventually Google will expand this structured data to website types beyond news and when it does this could mean more traffic and visibility for voice search results for all websites.

Is your SEO strategy ready for voice search? 

Better yet, do you have a SEO strategy?

If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to invest in a comprehensive digital marketing plan. If you’re stuck on how to do this, I’m here to help.

Even with all of the best tips and tricks, many business owners find it hard to keep up with the constantly evolving world of digital marketing. That’s where I come in. At Zen Biz Boss we use a proven strategy of content marketing + conversion funnel strategies to establish your credibility online and make you the preferred expert and ultimate online authority in your niche. 

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