Voice Search Optimization Tips

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

 

Currently, there is a shift occurring in the method people use to conduct many of their online searches.   Instead of inputting words or short phrases for their search terms, they are increasingly asking questions and using full, conversational sentences.

This shift is due primarily to the increasing presence of smart phones and accompanying voice search technology (such as Siri, Google Now, and Alexa). These tools allow people to simply say “Ok, Google (or Siri, etc.)” and state their question, rather than using the more laborious method of typing searches out on the small mobile phone keypad.

Faced with this shift, website owners may need to update their approach to how they write content for their websites and manage their web design. With the right changes, it will become possible for website owners to capture more voice search traffic while offering content and web design that satisfies visitors and the new, voice-based approach to search that they are taking.

Keep things conversational.

One of the defining characteristics of voice search is its conversational tone. Rather than using single words or brief phrases separated from any context, people speak to their voice search technology much as they would to a real person. For example, instead of saying “Miami five star hotels,” they might say, “What are some five star hotels in Miami?”

Referred to as “natural language,” this tone can have an impact on which search results show up for the searcher. Websites that simply optimize their content for “Miami five star hotels” might miss out on some website traffic. On the other hand, websites that begin to create content around natural language may experience a boost in their rankings as their sites are chosen because of the close match their content provides to the user’s search query.

As an example, consider writing content about five star hotels in Miami. If you use language incorporating long-tail keywords and sentences instead of single words and short phrases, you create content that more closely matches how users are asking the question. When Google looks for matches to the natural language search query, it finds and suggests your site rather than your competitor’s less-naturally optimized site.

Keep questions in mind.

Another characteristic of voice search is its basis in questions. Not only do people conduct their searches using natural sentences, but they often conduct voice searches by using questions. In the example above, for instance, the search consisted of the question, “What are some five-star hotels in Miami?” As a result, Google is more likely to return results that answer or match the kinds of questions that are being asked through voice search.

In light of this new approach, it is wise to create content and web design that keeps questions in mind. Sometimes, this may mean using questions as the basis for a blog post or landing page. For example, a series of blog posts focused on answering questions your visitors have can help to snag the attention of search engines looking for resources to answer the voice-based questions being posed to them. Plus, this type of question-oriented writing will be more appealing to your website visitors, who want to find the answers to their questions when they visit your site.

Create a mobile responsive site.

The majority of voice searches takes place through mobile devices (although voice search is now also possible with other types of devices). As a result, your site must not only take voice search into account but also take the devices people use into account. The best way to do so is to create a mobile friendly site that offers a comfortable and easy browsing experience on every device visitors use to access your site. In addition, mobile responsiveness is one of the factors that Google takes into consideration when deciding how to rank a website. Optimizing your site for voice search can only be effective if you combine those efforts with other strategies (such a mobile responsiveness) that further strengthen your site’s SEO appeal.

SEE ALSO: Why Use a Mobile Responsive Web Design?

Developing a site that is mobile responsive might require the services of a professional web development company. You may need to change your graphics or content organization to respond appropriately to each device used to access your site. However, once accomplished, your site will be ready to receive the visitors who arrive through voice search.

Include local information.

Many voice searches are local. People tend to use their mobile devices and their voice search technology to find information related to their local area. For example, they might want to know what the weather will be like as they contemplate what to wear to their child’s ball game, or they may look up the nearest Italian restaurant for a date night. Because these searches are often local in nature, your website and content should provide local details that allows Google to determine where you are and provide your business as an answer to a user’s local search query.

For example, one of the easiest ways to optimize your site for local SEO (and, therefore, for voice search), is to update your contact information with not just your phone number and email but also your address. Including this information on all of your social media profiles can also help Google to find your location when searching for answers to users’ voice queries. Including your location in your content and following other good practices for local SEO can help you to more successfully get your site listed in response to people’s local voice searches.

Voice search is taking on a larger role in search queries. As people use voice technology to conduct more and more of their online searches, it is important for websites to acknowledge and respond to this new search method. By keeping things conversational, keeping questions in mind, creating a mobile responsive site, and including local information, you can create web content and web design that shows up better in the search results and that more satisfactorily answers your visitors’ questions.

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