In 2021, voice search is becoming more and more important in SEO. Devices like Amazon Alexas and Google Homes are becoming increasingly more popular and as a result, more people are asking virtual assistants questions, instead of typing them up. As usual, search engines are keeping up with these trends, and making compatibility for voice search an important factor in SEO.
What are the differences between voice search SEO and normal SEO?
The issue with voice search is that Ai assistants will only read out one result, instead of showing a whole page full. So, with voice SEO, getting that number one spot or rich snippet is even more important and influential. In the past, SEO’s have argued that rich snippets are not as beneficial as they might seem on the surface, as they have prevented top-ranking sites from gaining a wealth of traffic as searchers are delivered the answer they were looking for without having to click onto a website. However, with voice search becoming more influential, SEO’s will inevitable compete even harder for these snippets.
Although we use the term ‘voice search’ for anything asked to smart devices, there are actually two different categories regarding ‘Voice’. These are voice search and voice action.
When you ask the device to do something, like “call a hairdresser near me” or “call a plumber in Manchester”. These are what you want to be targeting if you are a local business with a local SEO focus.
These are information-based queries. This could be; “how often should I water my plants”, “why do you need vitamin C in your diet”, or “what is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile”.
So now that you have a good idea about the type of voice search, let’s run over the different approaches for ranking both voice search and voice action queries.
How to Rank for Voice Action:
If you are a service and location-based business you need to focus on optimising your site for voice action. This is done by making sure you are compatible for all different devices that do voice search. You may already have a Google My Business account, but what about the devices that do not use Google as their map service? This is why you must optimise your business profiles on all possible map sites that your potential customers may search on.
This means optimising for these four different sites:
- Google My Business (used by Android phones and Google Home devices)
- Bing (used by Alexas and IPhones)
- Yelp (also used by Alexas and IPhones)
- Apple Maps (used my IPhones)
So, how do you optimise on these platforms?
Just as when you are getting your google my business ranked, you need to place a focus on displaying as much relevant and useful information as possible. So within these sites and platforms, you must include:
- photos (make sure to include up-to-date photos of the service you provide, members of your team, and your logo)
- reviews (these are vital for letting future customers know that you are trusted by those who you have helped)
- opening times (if people are unsure when you are open, they are less likely to use your service, and Google knows this)
- descriptions with keywords (a well-planned keyword strategy will ensure that you appear when people ask for you what you do)
- name, address and phone number (this MUST be consistent across all four platforms)
By including all the necessary details, the search engines will regard you as trustworthy and you have a higher chance of being elected for voice searches. Ultimately this is not much different to typical SEO which is broken down into E.A.T – the T being trust. So, in short, do what you were doing previously to gain the ‘Trust’ element, but across other numerous platforms for multiple search engines.
How to rank for voice search
Voice search is for those looking for information and answers to their problem. An easy way to do this is to add an FAQ page to your site answering common questions that your customers may be asking.
Make your answers short – about 40-50 words for each answer. This is because audiences asking their devices certain queries want quick, to-the-point answers, without their smartphone or speaker reading them an essay. To think about what questions your FAQ should have, think about the theory ‘they ask, you answer’. Whatever questions you think a potential customer might have should be inputted into an FAQ.
What does an X service entail? What are the benefits of buying X product? What is the average market price for X product? When it comes to Voice search intent, think about questions asking; ‘How to…’. ‘When do I…’, ‘What is…’ and ‘What do I do when..’. These types of conversational questions take up over 65% of voice search queries. Ultimately this means that you should be carrying out long-tail keyword research and prioritising the conversational type of queries which seem to be appearing.
When addressing these questions, you should focus on simplicity (like an 8th-grade reading level) whilst keeping it conversational as this is the type of content that voice search results will pull out. You should in theory be writing similarly to how your audience speaks, which means thinking about the industry you are in and the type of customers you interact with on a regular basis.
Having a schema markup can greatly improve your page ranking. It can help you get on rich snippets and featured snippets. So, if you want that Position 0 ranking, you should be utilising schemas. Because 40% of voice searches come from featured snippets, getting your schema right is vital for voice search.
Search engines look at your schema and from this can understand the context of your website. Having a schema markup is the equivalent of you describing your site, with detail, to your search engine. This allows you to have more of an influence on how search engines should read your site and thus rank it.
Schema can come in many different forms. Although there are some universal schemas for all websites, such as organisational or breadcrumbs schema, the type of schema you use will often depend on the industry you are in and the type of website you run.
- Creative Works
- Local Business Schema
You should choose the most relevant type for your content. There are so many types and properties (778 types and 1383 properties), so it is very important that you choose the right one. Having the correct schema can help your chances of being on the featured snippet, which as previously mentioned would increase your chances of being sleeted for voice search.
Ultimately, you want to work on authority with voice action and voice search. So, remember to ensure that your content reads well and is not unnaturally crammed with keywords. Throughout the history of SEO, Google has become better at noticing what might be spam, so always try and be as helpful to the user as possible.
When you are writing this content, think about how people would speak. Matching what people ask with their voice means writing more naturally which probably means less formally. Finally, if you are providing useful information that matches what people are asking, then searchers will want to use your answers and give your site a high-ranking position.