Voice search isn’t just a temporary trend. It’s here to stay.
Over the past 5 years, voice search has grown dramatically, and for good reason. It’s easier and more convenient to talk to an assistant, the results have become more accurate, and generally speaking, you get your answer more quickly.
Don’t just take our word for it, here are a few key statistics on the rise of voice search.
- In a keynote by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, it was disclosed that roughly 20% of all searches on Google are voice searches. (Source)
- According to research from NPR and Edison Research, one in six Americans owns a smart speaker capable of voice search. (Source)
- According to ComScore, an America media measurement and analytics company, by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. (Source)
With the undeniable rise in the popularity of voice search, learning how to optimize for it is critical. If you don’t, your days of running a successful SEO campaign are numbered.
Identifying Voice Search Trends
Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. Before we decide whether or not a campaign needs to be optimized for voice search, we first take a look at whether or not the website itself is already showing for voice-search terms.
Not all online niches are great for voice search.
Think about it logically; if you’re looking for a quick answer to a question, voice search makes sense. Google will give you a sentence or two to answer your query, and you’ll go about your day.
But what if you’re looking to hire a business? What if you’re looking to compare products?
These sorts of niches will surely get some voice search, but most of the time the intended audience wants to do a little more research, and a one sentence answer from Google isn’t going to cut it.
How To Determine If Your Website Already Gets Voice Search
If you analyze the keywords that your website shows up for, you can get a solid feel for whether or not these queries are from voice search.
One of the biggest signs that you’re showing up for voice search is seeing question style queries.
When people search from a computer or phone, it’s more natural to use choppy keyword phrases, but with voice search, you see more complete sentences and a lot of questions.
Here’s what I mean.
Compare these two terms, and think about which one is more likely to be a voice search.
“Chinese takeout Orlando”
“What Chinese takeout restaurants are open right now?”
There’s a clear difference in the style of these search terms.
The first is clearly a search done either by phone, or by computer. “Chinese takeout Orlando” isn’t a complete sentence, and isn’t something someone would just say out loud.
On the other hand, the second query “what Chinese takeout restaurants are open right now?” is a complete sentence, and is something you may hear someone say in a conversation.
When people ask questions to their voice assistants, it’s the voice assistant’s job to find the best answer. With this logic, you can bet that a big chunk of question-style queries are done via voice search.
If your business niche benefits from being the “answer” to voice search queries (aka the Chinese takeout restaurant that’s open right now), you’re missing the boat if you aren’t optimizing for voice search.
How Do You Optimize For Voice Search?
If you think your business is the type of business that voice search makes sense for, you need to jump on the opportunity to optimize for those keywords.
Here are a few quick tips for optimizing for voice search.
1. Write/Talk Like a Human
If you want Google to use your website as an answer for a voice search query, the first thing you need to do is format your content in a conversational tone.
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing to achieve first page rankings.
Nowadays, Google is more worried about user experience and providing a result that thoroughly answers the user’s query.
Don’t write website content to appeal to Google; write it to appeal to your users. Google now uses natural language processing (NLP) to take human language, analyze it, and use it to give results.
“NLP makes it possible for computers to read text, hear speech, interpret it, measure sentiment and determine which parts are important.” (Source)
2. Use Schema Markup
Schema markup isn’t anything new, but it is becoming more critical than ever.
In short, schema markup gives Google an easy to read road map of the core elements of your business/web page.
If you’re a local business, you can use schema markup to help Google identify the type of business you are, where you’re located, your business hours, your price range, and your reputation.
If you have all of these factors marked up on your website, you can easily appear for terms like “Where can I get my phone screen repaired fast?”
If you’re a phone repair shop, and you have your local business schema down, Google can quickly identify a few things about your business to help you appear for this query.
1. Your location – schema markup identifies your address and lets Google know you’re within driving distance of the searcher.
2. Business category – schema markup tells Google that you’re a cell phone repair shop.
3. Business hours – schema markup tells Google that you’re currently open for business and that user can show up right now for a quick repair.
By laying out these core elements, you make it easy for Google to match your website with the search query, resulting in more impressions for voice search terms.
If you’re curious about your structured data markup/schema, you can use the Structured Data Testing Tool from Google to see what Google sees.
3. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
If you’re a local business, Google My Business is essential. When people are doing “near me” type of terms, Google will show Google My Business (Google Maps) listings almost 100% of the time.
To have a shot of showing up for terms related to your business using the “near me” modifier, you need to have a well built out Google My Business profile.
As a rule of thumb, if Google gives you the option to fill out a field, do it. Don’t leave anything blank in your Google My Business Dashboard.
Another great tip is to prioritize getting positive customer reviews. If a user searches for “best SEO company near me” Google will filter the maps results based on star rating automatically to show you the “best” businesses near your location.
Tieing It All Together
When it comes to SEO, you need to be prepared to go with the flow and adjust your strategy to keep up with trends.
Voice search is one of those trends that is only going to get more prevalent as time goes on.
To stay ahead of the game, make sure your business is optimized for voice search if there is an opportunity for it.