How to Optimize Content for Voice Search
“OK Google: what is a Himalayan salt lamp?”
This was a real voice search of mine — which led to a purchase the day of my search.
Don’t judge me. Instead typing the question word-for-word in Google to satisfy my curiosity, I lazily hollered at my phone and asked Google what was up with these lamps.
Anyway, sit back and allow me to explain how online search has evolved, why you need to optimize your content for voice search, and what the heck I was thinking when I bought a lamp made of Himalayan salt.
Voice Recognition Technology Is Everywhere
Although speech recognition technology has been around since 1952 (with the “Audrey” system designed by Bell Laboratories), the technology didn’t become readily available until Google voice search entered the market in 2009.
Google made voice recognition technology easy to use for anyone with a smartphone. You could say this was a smart move on Google’s part, as smartphones happen to be the perfect vehicle for voice mobile assistants like Siri, OK Google, and Cortana.
Today, voice search is so ubiquitous that we have voice-activated virtual assistants like Amazon Echo, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, as well as voice-activated media devices like Amazon Firestick and Roku.
People Have Questions. Bots Have Answers.
Thanks to emerging technologies like these, search behavior today is much different from what it used to be.
Users have veered to searching with longer keyword phrases. According to Ahrefs, about 64% of searches are four words or more.
In addition to using longer keywords, users are skimming content and looking for quick answers.
Google knows this and wants to provide users with immediate answers in what it calls a “featured snippet.” That’s why it’s plucking content from websites in “instant answer” formats and expanding paid search ads.
From the standpoint of the user, all of this is just information. Paid search results are now so well tailored to online purchase behavior that they are all too tempting to click. Plus, 50% of adults can’t differentiate an ad from an organic search result, anyway.
Google has also pointed out that “voice searches are different in that they’re 30 times more likely to be action queries than typed searches.”
In addition, 20% of mobile search queries are voice searches, and it’s been estimated that by 2020, a full 50% of all searches will be done by voice.
How to Optimize Content for Voice Search
It’s pretty safe to say that you should consider voice search queries in your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Google Search Console won’t show which search queries are done by voice. But you can still optimize your content for voice search if you understand it and do a good job of helping searchers find what they’re looking for when they’re asking for it by voice.
Here are three things you can do now to optimize content for voice search.
1. Build an FAQ Page
A frequently asked question (FAQ) page is great for voice search because the information is already structured in a question-and-answer format.
If you don’t have an FAQ page on your site, a great place to start is by asking your sales and customer service employees what questions they get asked most commonly by customers. Collect this information first, and then start building the page based on the inquires your business is already receiving.
FAQ pages are perfect for voice search since voice searchers expect an immediate answer (hence my salt lamp question. More on this later).
2. Establish Core SEO Principles
A voice search is really not much different from a typed search. The outcome of search results will be the same whether the user chooses to type or use their voice.
There isn’t a separate index for voice searches, so core SEO principles will help your site rank in results.
Local SEO is especially important for voice searches that show local purchase intent. People who are ready to take action are searching for “Contact Us” pages with store hours and directions, so be sure this information is easily accessible on your website.
If you need help with SEO, download our free Learn SEO From the Experts guide. Whether you’ve already invested in an SEO strategy or are just getting started, this guide will help you gain a stronger understanding of all aspects of the SEO process.
3. Study High-Volume Searches
Before Google presents information in a quick answer, it needs volume.
Check your ranking status for high-volume keywords, and consider whether it would be worth it to build a page around those terms. If the webpages you build happen to have the best answers (and users are clicking on them), Google will reward you.
Voice search results often pull information from the featured snippet box at the top of Google’s organic results (below the ads). This coveted spot is often referred to as the #0 ranking position in the SEO nerd world.
While this featured snippet concept might not seem ideal for garnering clicks, it can actually provide strong brand awareness and eventually rise your click-through rate (CTR).
In fact, this report by Ben Goodsell discovered that the CTR for a featured page increased from 2% to a whopping 8% after being placed in position #0, with revenue from organic traffic increasing by 677%!
How One Voice Search Led Me to Buying a Salt Lamp
Okay, can I talk about this Himalayan salt lamp for a minute?
I learned from my voice search that Himalayan crystal salt lamps can be used as air purifiers. When heated, these lamps emit negative ions that combat with positively charged particles, like smoke, pet dander, pollens, and other air pollutants. The naturally ionized air can also help you sleep better at night.
Kind of cool, right?
The only downside to owning this lamp is that I had to place it out of reach from my cat, Chandler. When I first turned the lamp on, I noticed that he kept trying to lick the salt off.
Salt can be harmful for pets and cause diarrhea, dehydration, liver failure, and even death.
So if you buy one, please keep it out of harm’s way! The salt is very toxic for pets.
Besides, your cat might take more interest in the shipping box. ?
Get More SEO Advice from Us!
Voice search is a major topic of conversation right now.
Digital marketers like us will continue to come up with new ways to rank for voice search queries as the technology spreads, so keep an eye on it!
A great SEO marketing plan takes a lot of time and planning. Learn more in our complete guide to SEO, or let 9 Clouds help you create a successful digital marketing SEO strategy.