This is a follow up post to Voice Commands Continue to Change Search
Voice search continues to rise, and with the increased adoption of smart assistants inside the home (Google Home, Amazon Alexa, & Apple HomePod) it will only continue. Although there is no direct way to try and rank for voice search results, there are several tactics and ways of thinking you can use to increase your sites attractiveness and relevance to voice search queries.
Voice Search Adoption:
- An estimated 40% of adults in North America now use voice search daily.
- 41% of voice search users started within the last 6 months, 60% in the last year.
- 47% of users expect to increase their use of voice assistants in the next year.
What Voice Search Requires
Voice search, unlike traditional web copy, requires conversational language. This means your copy needs to be more informal, less rigid, and straight to the point. The fewer words you can use to answer a query the better. If you are looking to optimize your content for voice search make sure it is clean and concise. Remove unnecessary wordiness and keyword stuffing.
This may seem counter-intuitive as for years SEO’s like myself have been pushing for more words on the page, more keywords, more content. But to be clear I am not suggesting you reduce the volume of content on the pages, simply the voice. Stop writing for readers and start writing for listeners – become a screen writer and not an author.
Preparing Your Website For Voice Search
You may or may not be aware of structured data markup. If not I suggest you go read our article explaining structured data markup. As a refresher, structured data is essentially hyper-specifically formatted information on a page that tells Google and other online resources precise information about a page, business, product, etc.
Although a specific format for voice search has yet to be developed there are several key aspects that should be present on the page to aid in voice search results.
To optimize your website for voice search you should include the following:
- Appropriate Schema Markup (People, Places, Business Information, Prices, etc.) – provide as much information as easily as possible.
- Well Structured XML Sitemap – provide a clear hierarchy to your website to search engines.
- Mobile Optimization (Page Speed, Responsiveness, Navigation) – make sure the website can be easily accessed on mobile.
- On-Page Optimization (Headings, Table Coding, List Coding, etc.) – make sure your website is coded and tagged properly to allow a searcher to understand the formatting without seeing it.
- Screen Writer Content – write content that can be spoken easily.
If you optimize your site for all of the above mentioned items your site will be well on it’s way to showing up in voice searches.
Your Content & Contextual Relevance
Increasingly contextual relevance is becoming more and more important. Not only does your content need to speak to the search engine, it also needs to be relevant to the searcher. For you to be successful in search in 2018 you must target your content to a specific contextual search and not just keywords. Let me explain a little more…
For example, this post that you are reading titled “Voice Search & Your Website”
Based on the keywords that are being used and the optimizations (headings, meta tags, alt tags, schema data etc.) that I have done the page is targeted towards the term “Voice Search”. My goal is to get this post to rank for terms related to Voice Search. If someone is searching for Voice Search in hopes of finding a “how-to use Voice Search” post, this wont be relevant to them. The same mismatch arises if someone is looking for voice search to see data on voice search growth. Although I have a few numbers at the top of this article, overall, this is not the type of post they are looking for.
The context behind this post is voice search and how it relates to your website. Therefore Google will look for clues that you own a business, blog, website etc. and that you are looking for help optimizing for voice. In that case this post may very well show up well for terms around Voice Search, whereas for other users it may not even rank.
OK so now what?
Re-write all your content, strip down everything and start from scratch! (just kidding)
I’m joking, obviously, but you should review some of your key content and optimize it along the lines of what I mentioned above. Figure out the context in which your content needs to be served and optimize for that. Use schema markup wherever applicable, optimize your on page code, ensure your site is mobile friendly, and most importantly, be genuine. Don’t force it. The more genuine and real you are in your content, language, and structure the better.