How to optimise for voice search

You probably remember when Siri first came out and everyone made jokes about how comically wrong she could be, but voice-recognition technology is getting better all the time. Some experts estimate that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be through voice.


Write like people talk

You’re probably used to SEO keywords that are only a few words long – “cafe near me”, for instance. SEO for voice search is structured in the form of a question – “What is the best cafe near me?” or perhaps, “Where can I get coffee?”

Voice searches tend to incorporate words such as:

  • How
  • What
  • Best
  • Where
  • Can
  • Top
  • Easy

Ask Your Team

Ask your customer service team – they spend a lot of time talking to customers and should be familiar with how they phrase their questions. You can also attend local networking events and chat with people outside your field to find out how they talk about your business and what sort of words they would use to search for you.

If you’re still stuck for ideas, you can try using these websites:

Create question & answer (QA) pages

Create a variety of QA pages sprinkled throughout your website to make the most of the voice SEO format.

These should include customer questions (in the exact phrasing your customers use). The answers should be short, clear, and informative, suitable to be read aloud by Siri or Cortana.

Google’s instant answer box

Most Google searches nowadays have what is known in the trade as ‘position zero’ – the ‘instant answer’ or ‘answer box’ at the very top that outranks even the ads. These are the answers that are read out to voice searchers. This coveted position usually presents the content in one of the following forms, depending on the search:

  • Paragraph
  • Bullet list
  • Chart
  • Embedded images

For instance, “How do I cook quinoa?” gets a paragraph reply with an appetizing picture of a quinoa salad. The answer box for “What are the healthiest foods?” is in the form of a list.

Look at the form of the answer to the query you want to rank for and match that format. If it’s in paragraph write your content in the form of a paragraph; if it’s a list, write a list and so on.

Include the query in a prominent place, such as the title, or an Alt Tag or header tag, so that the search engines will easily pick it up.

Optimise your website for mobile

If you haven’t done it already, do it now. Google is not currently including local content in the instant answer box, but it’s only a matter of time. Half of all voice searches are done on a mobile device, most often in the car or at home.

At the 2017 Search Marketing Expo and Conference, Benu Aggarwal presented the following information to the gathering of SEO experts.

  • 82% of mobile searches are looking for local businesses
  • 50% of mobile voice searchers will visit a store within the day
  • 18% of local searches result in a sale within 24 hours

With conversion rates like these, you can’t afford not to optimise for voice search! The first and best way to optimise for local search is to claim your Google My Business page and use schema markup to provide the proper context for search engine crawlers.

Optimise for Voice SEO

Optimising for voice SEO will get your website ready for the future and help you take advantage of existing traffic.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d be happy to hear from you.

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