Optimising For Voice Search

Want to optimise your website through Google voice search? We will tell you everything you need to do while highlighting the key aspects of this search system.

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard — 25 minute read.

Stephen Hawking said, “Be curious and try to make sense of what makes the universe exist.”

If you are driven by curiosity, you might be online most of the time searching for answers. But you don’t need to be a physicist to be curious — daily issues like where to eat or how to navigate a new locality are challenging enough.

Voice Search Optimisation

That’s why search engines like Google move towards voice search, making it convenient for people to resolve their queries. Simply take out your phone, talk into the mic, and wait for the results to appear.

However, the bigger question is: how does voice search work, and what SEO strategies can you apply to incorporate it into a website? For all the answers, proceed to read the rest of our guide.

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What Is Voice Search?

It’s no secret that people are moving towards modern and innovative strategies for optimising their websites or online local businesses. And one advancement that comes in the form of a dialogue system is voice search.

A dialogue system is a type of computer setup with the basic purpose of carrying out a natural conversation with humans. Although it is called voice search, the system uses input and output data like speech/text or gestures to deliver accurate results.

In this context, you should know that the first natural language speaking system dates back to 1977, so voice searches aren’t something new. The system has undergone regular development and changes to answer search questions efficiently.

Now, every dialogue system comprises varying components, but one common aspect is the presence of a dialogue manager. For instance, Google voice search uses a dialogue manager that handles the semantics to formulate an effective dialogue strategy.

Inforgraphic Explaining Voice Search Works

Automatic Speech Recognition

Modern voice search devices feature Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) for feeding the data into the system. Additionally, some search engines use text-to-speech recognition for delivering results.

What’s impressive is that you won’t have to activate the virtual assistant on any device before proceeding with a voice search. This is because the search device has the necessary input to detect the language of the user’s voice search queries.

Every voice search setup has a user queries a database that helps the algorithm shortlist the necessary keywords and display relevant search results. Depending on the device you’re using, the results will appear on the screen, or the voice assistant might answer back.

Voice search is highly convenient and popular among people.

Why Is Voice Search Popular?

The main advantage of using voice search is faster and easier to operate. Suppose you are driving but want to turn on Google maps to find the correct route. What would be easier — stalling in the middle of a crowded highway while searching for a suitable route or asking the voice assistant?

Like most people, you would prefer the latter because it’s convenient. Also, mobile users feel that apart from proving faster, voice search allows them to use their handset without actually picking it up.

Not to mention, voice search devices are fun, accurate, and much more straightforward than using an app or visiting a website. Pass commands and the smart device will take care of the rest.

We have shortlisted some of the points in favour of voice searches to help your further:

1. Convenient

As mentioned earlier, convenience is the key when operating voice search while shopping, creating content or finding answers to common questions. Even though typing out questions is still very much in vogue, the future will most likely consist of people telling their smart devices what to do.

You can multitask easier with voice queries, spending every second on something worthwhile. In other words, if there is a more straightforward way to do something, why would you choose a more tedious option?

Further, people speak with each other throughout the day, making voice search natural and accessible to everyone worldwide.

2. Avoiding Errors

Suppose you want to know about an off-route location in Switzerland, but unfortunately, you’re not aware of the spelling. You can try a simple voice search of places in Switzerland and follow that up with a question on the town or city of your choice.

In other words, people have to employ a trial and error method to type the name of a place when conducting a traditional search. But talking into the smart speakers (even though the pronunciation might be incorrect) allows the voice search assistant to understand the query quickly. Similarly, when you have trouble articulating the search query, you can spell out the keyword to find suitable resources on the subject.

Long story short, you can reduce errors significantly to find an answer for most queries via voice.

3. Mobile Devices

Remember when people used large handsets that covered their entire face while taking a call? Neither do we because, thanks to the lightning-fast progress in technological advancements, people prefer their gadgets to be smaller but equally efficient.

Voice search is a big hit among mobile users who can access information with a simple voice query. As per the data from the latest research, 56% of people using voice search do so on their smartphones.

Compared to laptops, mobile devices fit inside your pocket and aren’t much larger than the palm of your hand. Add to that the voice assistant, and you’ve got a winning combination.

4. Location-Based Results

The good news is that Google Home and Amazon Echo come with location-based search results to streamline the user experience. If you want to search for local business listings, it is possible to use Google voice search, according to your location.

Search engines will understand when you Google “My business listing”, delivering relevant results each time without specifying the place. This same principle is in play for “near me” searches.

That said, this is only possible for local search queries; while travelling, you’ll have to enable the GPS for this feature to work.

5. App-Based Search

Like location searches, voice queries provide promising results when using any particular Google app. For instance, if you’re looking at a food app and want to know the menu of a specific restaurant, you can use Google voice search to find the menu.

Your smart device is aware of the app you’re using and keeps track of the recent searches to provide accurate answers.

6. Relevancy

The future of voice search is intricately linked to marketing and creating relevant content. People who create content need to sit down with the web designers to incorporate voice search into the page for attracting the target audience.

While writing the content in a conversational tone is crucial, there must also be scope for voice searchers to engage in conversations.

Google categorises people into two types: those who type and talk. While the former group might want to conduct their research from the millions of search results, talkers generally want quick solutions.

They don’t have time to go through all the results and want the most relevant answer. To explain further, simply asking for your office address should be enough for Google to provide accurate results without needing to specify the details of your office.

Similarly, Google is developing conversational e-commerce sites to use voice search to make instant purchases. Naturally, shopping becomes easier as a verbal command is enough to find what you’re looking for.

Voice Search Statistic Oberlo

Voice Search Vs Traditional Search: What’s Changed?

To truly understand the advancements in voice search and how SEO strategies have helped, let’s look at some of its promising features compared to traditional search.

1. Long-Tail Keywords

The keywords for voice search are longer than the keywords for normal search because of the way we humans speak. People use complete sentences when speaking on mobile devices, much like while talking to a friend.

The keywords are longer and conversational, while shorter texts suffice for a regular search. Usually, 2-3 words are enough when typing a query, but the number of terms is double or triple when using voice search.

As a result, the keyword research for voice search SEO strategies is different and varied.

2. Local Listings

Most voice search queries compromise “near me” questions; that’s why local listings are an important part of voice searches. More often than not, people will talk into their smart devices, looking for a restaurant, hotel or place to hang out.

Understandably, “near me” searches have grown considerably in the last few years. If you delve deeper, you will find that an increasing number of customers want information on varied stuff, like movie timings or food menus.

Mostly, people use voice search to learn if local businesses in the vicinity have anything worthwhile to offer.

Business Google Listing

3. Prompt Response

The best part about voice search is that there is seldom any beating about the bush because most of the results are featured snippets. To explain in greater detail, Google relies on featured snippets and knowledge graphs to deliver accurate results.

At the same time, these results must be available quickly as consumers want fast answers because of their short attention span. As a result, Google realises that direct answers are the need of the hour.

Thankfully, the featured snippets provide instant yet accurate query resolution since people don’t want to read huge chunks of content.

Types Of Keywords For Voice Search

As we move closer to voice search optimisation and suitable SEO strategies, it’s time to look at the most relevant keywords for voice searches.

1. Filler Words

Even though you can omit filler words while typing a question on Google, they are a must when using voice search. Terms or phrases like “I”, “the”, “on”, “of”, “for”, etc. make the questions more human, conversational and more accessible for the search engine to understand.

2. Question Keywords

The primary purpose of question keywords is to clarify the Google search engine. By using words such as “how”, “what”, “when”, “where”, and “why”, you can target the specific search query, thereby increasing the chances of delivering accurate results.

3. Long-Tail Keywords

As mentioned earlier, long-tail keywords often make the difference in a voice search. These words help complete the question and are crucial for optimising your SEO strategy.

Keyword Research

You already know about the most important keyword types for voice search, so it would help to include them in your keyword strategy for the best results. Luckily, specific tools come in handy for keyword research, enabling your website to achieve a higher rank.

We’ve listed some of the popular reasons for using keyword research tools below:

1. Variety

You can’t know all the keywords, but you should know as many as possible to stay updated with consumer queries and market trends. For instance, keywords a rival web page uses or standard terms consumers prefer to use while searching are things you need to know.

That’s why keyword research tools generate variety, allowing you to update your database frequently.

2. Analytics

Some tools have a separate keyword analytics section to help you simultaneously deal with many topics. After searching for a keyword, the algorithm displays all the matching phrases, including terms similar to your search, allowing you to use more long-tail keywords.

3. Bonus Features

You may find bonus features whereby the tool lists the most common question keywords for optimising the voice search ranking. Additionally, you can search for a topic that will showcase popular questions related to that topic.

But how is this information helpful? You can use these keywords or questions contextually in your blog posts so that the featured snippet increases the rankings during a voice search.

Optimising Voice Search

With voice search becoming popular, more websites will be inclined to try out its features, so you need to develop a suitable SEO strategy. But as voice search is more refined, your SEO architecture should match up accordingly for the web page to achieve a higher ranking.

In other words, content optimisation is the key, and we’ve narrowed down some of the best ways to do so:

1. Focus On Rich Answers

You might be wondering what rich answers are, so let us explain. According to a study, 70% of all voice search results carry a search engine results page (SERP) feature, while 60% of them have a featured snippet result.

Survey Results Users Step Voice Search

This means that different people conducting a voice search about a particular query will get similar results, known as the rich answer for that question. Over the years, the number of search results with rich solutions has gone up, so you need to tweak your SEO strategy accordingly.

To qualify as a rich answer, it should have one or more of the following features:

A. Knowledge Graph

You must be aware that Google maintains a database or knowledge graph containing information about things, people, and places. Hence, marketing teams use Google’s knowledge graph to provide relevant answers for a search query.

That’s why we said that people might find similar results for a voice search query as Google often displays rich answers.

B. Knowledge Box

Rich answers comprise a knowledge box containing factual information from the knowledge graph, much like regular search engine results.

C. Knowledge Panel

Have you noticed a small box to the right of the search results that carry snippets of information? This knowledge panel usually appears on the screen when you search for businesses, while the data comes from the knowledge graph.

D. Featured Snippet

Google displays the featured snippets on the organic search results, usually right above the ads. But since these come from third-party sources, the search engine attributes the information to the source.

Overall, a featured snippet delivers accurate answers so that people can quickly read the information before reading the rest of the article.

2. Conversational Language

We believe that you should use conversational language to reap the full benefits of voice search queries. Sounding too technical or robotic makes it challenging for Google to understand the content and suggest it to users.

It would be best to stick to everyday language and natural terms while talking about any topic. This will increase the chances of the website appearing higher up the rankings.

Moving on, since people prefer a conversational tone, having easy-to-read articles ensures search engines can conveniently match it to a query. For that, you need to understand user intent and determine how they are framing a verbal query.

Doing so will help you anticipate possible questions based on the website content, allowing you to make suitable changes to the SEO strategy. For example, you can create a database of the most relevant question keywords, people’s type of queries, and their conversation style.

This information will permit you to formulate relevant answers while researching how successful rival websites are writing content. Opting for a data-driven strategy will help you address what people need when using voice search.

3. Restructuring The Content

Since developing a conversational style is important for voice search to bear fruit, you need to restructure the website content accordingly. First and foremost, ensure that the web design and content layout are user-friendly to attract more customers.

Secondly, the queries and voice search results should be brief and to the point to grab people’s attention. One study says that Google prefers concise responses to voice search queries as most results are usually about 29 words long.

The answer lengths should be around that number to quickly find what they are looking for.

One way to increase a web page’s appeal is by including structured data and relevant content. A great example of this is an FAQ page comprising question keywords and crisp answers.

Thanks to the FAQ page, Google (and similar search engines) find it easier to display suitable content from the website, using them as rich snippets. Similarly, remember to break up the information into smaller parts; it’s a great SEO tactic for voice search and convenient for people when reading.

4. Loading Time

Once the website’s basic structure is in place, sit down with the SEO team to fine-tune some crucial aspects, such as the page’s loading time. Although it is a vital component of SEO architecture, web designers often ignore it, and the website ends up lower down the voice search results.

It’s no secret that websites that load faster are more in demand as people get their time’s worth. On the other hand, most sites with slow loading speeds fail to attract a large audience, losing customers.

Furthermore, faster websites have lower bounce rates, meaning speed optimisation should be your priority. You should note that voice searchers are looking for instant results, and even if a page has a lot of information, there’s no point if it fails to load almost instantly.

Statistics Website Speed

The difference between success and failure is often a few seconds, so you should focus on delivering relevant content that loads quickly. To help you, we have shortlisted some ways to increase the loading speed.

  • Content delivery networks (CDN) prove useful
  • Compress videos and images to reduce the size
  • Limit the use of plug-ins
  • Keep redirects to a minimum
  • HTML5 and CSS3 frameworks work well with mobile devices
  • Reduce HTTP requests
  • Work with JavaScript and minify Style Sheets
  • Prevent JavaScript parsing with “defer” and “async.”

Apart from these techniques, you can try speed test tools like Pingdom and Google Page Speed Insights to achieve more conversions.

5. Content Readability

Writing quality content is pretty much a given; otherwise, why should people spend time on your website? We have mentioned earlier that using natural language in your content and limited technical jargon works best for user engagement. Also, it should not be complicated, permitting users to understand the article by reading it just once.

6. Target Appropriate Keywords

We mentioned this point earlier, but it never hurts to refresh your memory, especially if it’s important. You already know that keywords for voice searches are longer than typed text due to the conversational style. Google prefers complete sentences, making it easier for the search engine to find a relevant article for the query.

You can include most keywords depending on the different types of questions. But be careful not to overdo it either, as keyword stuffing may have the opposite effect. On the other hand, if you use them contextually, the marketing team will have more success while developing long-form content.

Additionally, long-tail keywords and fillers help get higher voice search rankings, so make these your priority.

7. Google My Business Listing

People new to voice search may not realise the role of a Google My Business listing, so let us explain in greater depth. The Google My Business (GMB) listing determines whether your website ranks higher when people make “near me” searches.

That’s why most companies register for the GMB listing so that Google is aware of the business’s exact location. If people are looking for similar businesses in the vicinity, your website could appear on the Google voice search results to answer that query.

But what information should you include in the listing? Although you can disclose any relevant information related to the business, the name, phone number, and address should be at the top of the list.

You will also have to provide the area code and choose the correct business category, ensuring that people (and Google) can easily navigate your website. What’s more, to stand apart from the crowd, some companies publish posts carrying news, updates or deals about the service.

Hence, having a GMB listing is essential and requires a suitable local SEO strategy to deliver the best results. Along with that, you can use local keywords that may increase your search engine rankings manifold.

Consequently, you need to feature structured data on the website to improve the user experience and performance.

8. Mobile-Friendly

Most of the online data that people consume today are on their smartphones. No wonder Google’s announcements in 2019 connected with mobile devices and what tools people can use to navigate Google better.

Statistics Number Mobile Phone Users

With mobile devices being a priority for Google voice search, the search engine has developed new strategies for user engagement. But why is it so popular?

Compared to the hassle of carrying a laptop, mobiles are smaller portable devices that everyone can use at all times. In other words, they are user-friendly, so adding a voice feature to such devices should be a no-brainer.

Plus, people spend more time on their phones and use voice searches while doing their daily chores. Understandably, the popularity of mobile voice search has increased, and you need to provide a mobile-friendly experience.

We have highlighted some points below to help achieve your business goals:

A. Responsive Websites

The website must be responsive, allowing you to prioritise consumers who prefer mobile searches. All the on-site features should be visible and navigable on mobile for the voice search to be effective.

B. Run A Test

Instead of making assumptions, you can test if the webpage is suitable for mobile devices. Several mobile-based tests, such as the Google Mobile-Friendly Test, will help you optimise the content accordingly.

C. Crawlable

We are sure you have all heard about web crawling but do you know why it’s essential? An easily crawlable website increases visibility and offers more significant exposure to your content so that Google can display the relevant information quickly.

Mobile search is undoubtedly the future as smart devices become smaller and more portable. And as you can use them to resolve vocal queries efficiently, mobile-friendly sites are a challenging part of modern SEO architecture.

9. Customer Behaviour

With the latest marketing techniques and voice SEO strategies, you can’t forget about the customers. This is because the success or failure of an online business depends entirely on user engagement, and you need to take note of consumer behaviour.

So, it’s crucial to understand consumer trends to determine how people use voice search on their preferred devices. While we have established the importance of mobiles, you should not overlook the appeal of voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri.

As a result, conducting real-time research into consumer behaviour to design the web page is essential. You will also get an idea about the average age of customers using voice queries, which will allow you to have some eye-catching on-site elements.

10. Persona Content

We have spoken about creating relevant content, but some specific articles can generate more hits for your page. These are persona content, focusing on clear, contextual information worth customers’ time.

To enhance your SEO tactics, you should create detailed answers even for common queries. The marketing team needs to maintain clarity so that the articles are easy to understand, despite being more informative.

The trick is to write compelling yet straightforward content that consumers will find interesting while solving their queries. We have listed some of the best ways to do this:

A. Intriguing Headline

Successful web pages have a headline at the beginning of the article that asks a question. This aims to grab customers’ attention, drawing them in to read the rest of the article. Not to mention, it becomes easier for Google to relate the content to a specific search query.

B. Short Answer

The body of the article can explain the topic in detail, but you can provide a concise answer to the question just after the heading. Just as a teaser or trailer for a movie reveals snippets of what’s on offer, the short answer will allow people to decide if the article is worth reading.

C. Body

Finally, in the body content, elaborate on the subject and provide an in-depth analysis for everyone who wishes to explore the topic further.

If you can follow the above points and create suitable persona content, your website pages have a better chance of featuring higher in the search engine results. It will satisfy the essential points in Google’s ranking algorithm while the concise information at the top proves relevant for voice search. Indeed, it may even appear as a featured snippet against a voice query.

11. Schema Markup

Schema markup could be the one factor that helps your site stand out for those who don’t know. It increases a website’s appeal and marks up the content so that search engines know about the content you’re pushing out.

What’s more, it’s a simple HTML add-on that helps Google understand the text and locate relevant content, increasing the chances of the web page ranking higher. Not to mention, it will allow search engines to display your website for specific voice search queries.

But why Schema markup and not something else? Google understands the content in schemas, making it a suitable strategy for including all the necessary information.

Marketing teams believe that schemas will help answer your questions so that the website shows significant gains. Thus, your content will appeal to mobile users who prefer voice search.

12. Answer Local Queries

If you’re confused about what kind of content to promote, you can never go wrong with local topics. Such subject matter should even be your priority, given how voice search and mobile usage are gaining popularity.

Now, most people with mobile phones want information about local listings or things to do nearby. The primary purpose of voice search is to encourage people to ask hyper-local queries.

For instance, you should ensure that the directions to local stores are mentioned on the web page for straightforward interpretation. Plus, it becomes easier for search engines to highlight the website to answer a query.

But even though we are primarily focused on voice search, your SEO strategy should be flexible to include text searches as well. Optimising your SEO architecture can make the website relevant to many people, so tweak the “near me” searches to suit all devices.

13. Language Variations

Using natural language and a conversational style may not be enough because you need to consider the regional variations in dialect. Since the emphasis is on local queries, you should answer those questions in the regional dialect.

Web pages often forget about the variations in language, owing to which their rankings take a hit. Indeed, it’s vital to be aware that people will use Google voice search in their native dialect, so you should write the content accordingly.

Hence, you must create a list of the target audience and study where they live, the languages spoken in the area, and the most common dialect. Note that the spoken language is slightly different from the written word, so you will have to adapt the SEO architecture based on the available information.

Naturally, the keywords you need to use will change depending on the country or region. However, the basic principle of keyword research and what terms to choose are the same, barring only the minute changes in language.

The bottom line is that your website must match the region’s requirements to be relevant for voice searches.

14. Idioms And Speech Patterns

Taking forward the discussion on dialects and speaking habits, we feel that speech patterns, such as idioms, often determine the success of a website. While optimising the web page for voice search, you should focus on more than just keywords and analyse speech patterns in-depth.

This will help you locate the peculiarities of any region as idioms in one location are quite different from those in others. They are influenced by culture, industry, and surroundings, so having a clear idea about the speech patterns will help you better connect with the audience.

15. Spelling

Speaking of oddities, have you noticed how the spelling for the same word changes from one place to the next? You must keep track of such terms for the content to be relevant and the keywords to be impactful.

For instance, the website should not mislead someone living in Australia with American spellings and vice-versa. That’s an excellent way to lose potential clients, so pass the content through numerous tests to achieve a higher voice search ranking.

16. Suitable Brand Name

You can get creative with the name of the website or company, but don’t go overboard. Creating a brand and name for your company is vital to growing your customer base. Simplicity is often the key when trying to strike a chord with customers.

An easy to remember website/webpage will surely attract more people than one with a fancy name, but most importantly, it should have some meaning. Ambiguous names are a strict no-no as they are difficult to remember and don’t appear much on search engine results.

If people don’t know how to pronounce the name of a search term, the voice search will hardly ever promote your site. While uniqueness is essential, picking a simple name that’s easy to remember will appeal to people.

Use Voice Search To Your Advantage

Whether you are the co-founder of a marketing website or a university student, it’s challenging to avoid voice search in your daily activities.

Despite the age-old adage that old is gold, sometimes the new ways might be better and possibly easier. Let’s face it, why would you type when you can ask Siri or Alexa for help?

These intelligent assistants will help you display relevant results to find quick answers in the blink of an eye. So, start talking, and you may find a new restaurant with a delicious spread you didn’t know about.

For any assistance with optimising your website for voice search, reach out to our team. Our SEO experts and content specialist are happy to assist you.

Until next time. Good luck!

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey is the CEO of sitecentre® and a data-analyst in the SEO, Paid advertising space that uses machine learning and AI to advance sitecentre® as an industry-leading digital marketing agency across Australia.

Find them on their website: sitecentre®, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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