How to Optimize SEO for Google Voice Search

A few years ago, we had to optimize SEO for the growing trend of mobile searching. Next came the push to leverage local and hyper-local searches.

Today, we are facing another revolution in how your prospects will search the internet when they need your services. The rising popularity of voice search has reached a fever pitch, and experts predict that we aren’t too many years away from most Google searches being performed via voice.

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Because internet users take a starkly different approach to spoken-word searches — as opposed to those typed on a keyboard — this means it’s time to adapt our SEO optimization strategies accordingly.

How Many Internet Users Favor Google Voice Searches?

A slew of recent research has demonstrated just how prevalent voice search has become. When we last explored the topic of voice-activated internet search (way back in 2016), the research demonstrated that approximately 25 percent of searches were being done via voice.

But more than half of searches are on pace to be done this way by 2020 — less than two years from now!

A recent study looked at how we’re using Google voice search today, and how it will affect the future of SEO and digital marketing. Americans have gotten over their shyness about using voice-activated searches in public.

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We’re using voice searches unabashedly on public transportation, in the office, at parties, at the gym and (although we aren’t entirely sure how we feel about these) places such as restaurants, theaters and public restrooms.

In fact, generations of internet users are using voice search almost exclusively.

How Are Internet Users Performing Google Voice Searches?

The majority of Google voice searches performed today are done via mobile devices, primarily smartphones. Many of these searches utilize virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana.

However, we can attribute much of this growing popularity to in-home digital assistants such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, a trend that will only keep gaining momentum. Research indicates that by 2020, 3 out of 4 American households will have one of these “smart speakers.”

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Other common ways of performing voice searches are wearable devices, such as the Apple watch. The wearables market is exploding, so we can expect it to begin contributing exponentially to the voice-activated search phenomenon (in no small part because most wearables don’t really have a keyboard, per se).

Why Is Voice Search Important for SEO?

The primary reason we have to optimize SEO for voice search is that we interact with it in a totally different way than we do our keyboards. And in a short, two-year period, we have significantly changed our approach to voice-activated searching, thanks to our relationships with Alexa, Siri, Cortana and their contemporaries.

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more sophisticated, we’re starting to treat our virtual assistants more like humans, and we’re changing our speech patterns accordingly.

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More than how internet users are talking to their devices, we must look at what they’re talking about. Certainly, they’re asking for information (how many ounces in a cup, what is the velocity of an unladen swallow, when did Titanic sink, etc.). But in many cases, they’re talking to their devices with the intent to make a purchase.

So how does this affect how we optimize SEO?

It means we have to adapt our approach to SEO based on how voice searchers phrase their queries. But more importantly, we have to consider what these internet searchers want. Specifically, you have to evaluate what your targeted prospects are asking their devices about your product or service offerings and how they’re asking their questions.

How Do You Optimize SEO for Voice Search?

SEO experts recommend that, to most effectively optimize SEO for voice search, we consider two key factors: the device(s) that prospects are using to run their voice-activated searches and their intent when conducting their search.

But we must also consider the natural speech patterns users have adopted as they’ve become more comfortable — and more familiar — with interactive, smart speaker devices.

If you’ve ever asked Siri (or one of her peers) a question that you didn’t phrase quite properly, you may have had to struggle to get an answer. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may have had to adapt your voice query accordingly. The fact is that, while Amazon’s Alexa is more geared to shopping functions, Siri, Cortana and others take a more all-around approach to your questions.

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So based on what products or services you offer, you may have to do a little research of your own to determine how your prospects phrase their questions that ultimately lead to you — or your competition.

Armed with that knowledge, you can identify keywords that your prospects may use when they need your business.

The next step is to incorporate this knowledge into your digital marketing strategy, including on-page SEO optimization and content creation. To determine your placement in the search engine results pages (SERPs), Google’s algorithms look for targeted content that addresses voice queries. But Google is also picking its SEO winners based on a few other key factors.

A recent study shows that a large percentage of Google’s favored ranking factors for voice search involve schema and featured snippets. But overwhelmingly, content continues to be king right now with Google. Specifically, long-form content ranks well on Google in response to voice search, as do FAQs.

Perhaps most surprising, exact-match keywords and phrases in title tags are significantly less important to Google under voice-activated search SEO results. Instead, Google wants to see those keywords and phrases incorporated into fresh, engaging, high-quality content.

An Internet Marketing Expert Can Help You Optimize Your SEO for Voice Search

If all this information has left you feeling confused, you’re in good company. The impact of voice search on SEO is continuing to evolve with every passing week. If you want to find ways to make sure the growing volume of voice searchers finds their way to your business, talk to a digital and internet marketing expert.

At Be Locally SEO, we pride ourselves on staying up to date on how Google determines search engine results rankings. We put this advanced knowledge to work for our clients through website design, social media marketing, AdWords campaigns and comprehensive content marketing strategies.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you optimize your SEO strategies for Google voice search.