How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search in 2024
The way we search online is changing.
Speaking is the new typing. More and more people are turning to voice-activated assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant to find what they need with conversational queries.
As of 2023, there are 4.2 billion voice assistants in use and this number is expected to reach 8.4 billion by 2024.
But here's the catch – when you speak your queries out loud, you don't articulate them the same way you would in a text search. If you want your business to be discovered and recommended by voice assistance, you need to adapt your SEO practices.
But ranking for voice search isn't the easiest thing to do. Typically, voice-enabled devices will only give you the top few results for any query. Getting into these top spots demands exceptional content and honing your SEO techniques.
But don't worry. This article is here to help. You'll learn about voice search optimization, how it is different from standard SEO, and the best practices for implementing it.
Voice search optimization, also known as VSO, is a set of techniques that you can use to enhance the visibility and relevance of your online content in voice search results.
Its goal is to align this content with the natural language patterns people use with voice assistants and increase the possibility that it will appear in the results more often.
The count of voice assistants in use is supposed to double over the next year and while many people may only use them to set their alarms or play music, more and more users are relying on them to find information, products, and services online.
And you want your content, services, and products to be what they find. While VSO may be a relatively new term, voice search is more than just a trend, and optimizing your website for voice search will position your business for success both now and in the future.
Here are some of the benefits of voice search optimization:
Increased traffic and conversions
VSO can help attract more visitors to your site and convert them into customers.
Voice search users are more likely to be ready to buy.
For example, someone who says “Hey, Google, find a pizza place near me” is more likely to be looking to order a pizza than someone typing a similar query in a search engine.
Improved brand awareness
VSO can help you reach new customers and increase awareness of your brand.
When people hear your brand name read aloud by a voice assistant, it is more likely to stick in their minds.
Better customer experience
VSO can help improve customer experience by making it easier for people to find the information they need.
For example, if someone is looking for your business hours, they can ask their voice assistant instead of trying multiple text queries and wading through a page of results.
The Key Differences Between Voice Search and Text Search
While it's true that there is overlap between traditional SEO and voice search optimization, there are some fundamental differences in voice search that require different tactics if you want to rank:
Voice searches are more conversational and use natural language. People speak complete sentences and questions, not just keywords. For example, “Where can I find a good Italian restaurant nearby?” rather than “Italian restaurants near me”.
Voice results are brief. Unlike text searches that give a user a full page of results, typically only one result is read aloud by the voice assistant. So ranking number one is critical.
Local intent is common. Many voice searches are seeking a nearby business or service like “Find a dry cleaner open now.” Optimizing for local search is important to capture these searches.
Mobile optimization is essential. Most voice searching happens on smartphones, so having a fast, mobile-friendly site helps maximize visibility for voice queries.
Personalization and context matters. Voice searches are often made based on the user's current location or situation. Providing relevant, personalized results is key.
Best Practices for Voice Search Optimization
Both how people use voice search and how they get the results are different from text search.
And this means you have to use different tactics to increase your rank.
Don't worry that changes will affect your current rankings.
These same strategies will also help you rank higher in text-based results as well.
Use Long-Tail Keywords to Answer Your Audience's Questions
Focus on optimizing pages for long-tail keyword phrases that mimic natural questions.
Long-tail keywords are highly specific search queries that may have lower search volumes but are more likely to be used when visitors are ready to buy.
Use these keywords in common questions your audience would ask.
For example, a wedding photographer may optimize their site for “what should I wear for engagement photos” rather than only “engagement photos”.
Write in a Natural, Conversational Tone
With voice search, people are having a conversation with an assistant.
So it would help if you used the same approachable, human tone in your content. That means making it easy to read and less formal.
Stay away from technical language and jargon.
Use humor and speak directly to the reader if it fits your brand.
Create a Comprehensive FAQ Section
Since one of the goals here is to answer your audience's questions, it only makes sense to build a Frequently Asked Questions section.
Talk to your support team or wade through archived support tickets to find the questions customers are always asking.
Take it even further and harvest questions from forums and social networks that target your industry.
A bonus is that future customers will get answers to their questions without calling for support.
Optimize for Local Search
Many voice searches are location-specific or include terms like “near me”.
This is something you need to consider when creating content for your website.
Make sure that your website is optimized for local SEO by including location-based keywords, claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing, and encouraging your customers to review your business.
Featured Snippets are the short summaries that appear at the top of Google Search results.
They are also the results that are read aloud by voice assistants.
To optimize for Featured Snippets, format your content in a way that is easy to read and provides clear, concise answers to common questions.
Use headings, bullet points, and tables to organize your content and make it easy to scan.
Schema markup is a structured way to mark up your data that helps search engines understand the context and meaning of your content.
With schema markup, you can provide additional information about your content, such as reviews, ratings, and specific details which can enhance its visibility in voice search results.
Since most voice searches are done on mobile devices, you need to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
This means it should load fast, adjust responsively to different-sized screens, and have navigation that is easy to use on a phone.
Speed is essential for voice search optimization.
The average voice search result page loads twice as fast as the average web page.
To optimize your website for speed, you need to reduce the size of your images and videos, enable compression and caching, minify your code, and use a content delivery network (CDN).
If you only have an English version of your website, you are most likely missing out on voice searches in other languages.
If you want to reach a global audience or just more of your potential audience in the United States, you need to translate your website into multiple languages.
Optimizing for voice search may seem like a challenge, but it doesn't require revamping your entire SEO strategy.
By following the best practices outlined here and making your website as conversational, natural, and mobile-friendly as possible, you'll be going in the right direction.
The most important thing is understanding how voice search differs from text search.
Adapt your content accordingly to match the natural ways people speak. Test different keyword phrases and formats to see what resonates.
As voice search continues to grow as a preferred search method, having an effective voice search optimization strategy is key to remaining visible.
By customizing your approach to the unique nature of voice, you can connect with more voice searchers and grow your visibility.
November 29, 2023
October 24, 2023