Optimizing Your Website For Voice Search – What You Need To Know
“Siri, call Mom.”
“Google, search for a pasta recipe.”
What you just read were voice commands, and like those voice commands, people use numerous commands like that to get things done on a daily basis.
The internet world has progressed drastically in the past couple of years, and one of the key changes on the horizon is”voice search optimization.”
And as we step into 2021, it’s pretty obvious that voice search will continue to grow, and one of the major growth strategies that will characterize this period is integrating it on websites.
What’s Voice Search?
Voice search is a voice-enabled “bot” that detects a user’s voice command to search the internet and answer queries.
To elaborate further on the point, it means the user enters a command using his/her voice after clicking the mic button; the voice search has an algorithm that runs an extensive search using the keywords from a user’s search query.
However, I don’t think voice search has replaced text search yet. There are still people who prefer typing their queries because voice search isn’t all so perfect (yet, I’m sure some more time and development will make it the first choice.)
The most famous voice assistants available to people is:
- Apple: Hey, Siri
- Google: OK, Google
- Amazon: Hey, Alexa
- Microsoft: Hey, Cortana
Difference Between Text And Voice Input
On the surface, the only difference between text and voice search might seem like the input type; however, there is a lot more to it.
Now, what is a voice search, and how does it work?
The voice search bot has a mechanism known as ASR or automatic speech recognition. Additionally, it can also work with natural language understanding to search for the most-searched queries.
A text search bot; however, it doesn’t require long queries anymore and also has predetermined queries; Google is famous for it.
For example, if a user starts typing “how to cook,” the voice search will give you some recommendations and “complete your sentence for you,” as people like to say it.
Here’s the example I’m referring to:
Like the example above, the search engine has other predetermined queries, making it easy for people to use the text input type.
History Of Voice Search
I think you will definitely agree when I say that Google’s development and implementation of voice search have been nothing short of progressive.
The search engine has continued to flourish and prosper to make voice search better and more functional for users around the globe.
However, Google isn’t the only one responsible for voice search.
Wolfgang von Kempelen’s Speaking Machine
So, then who is? Let’s go back a little further to Wolfgang von Kempelen’s speaking machine. Von Kempelen’s machine was an “assistant” that talked back to humans.
Bell Labs’ Voder
Fast forward to seventy years later, and Bell Labs’ Voder came into being and was established as another electronic speech device that actively talked to humans.
They say that roots matter, and that’s why I shared some of my knowledge with you.
A little further down the line, Shoebox was invented, and then science took a wide leap, and voice recognition was a part of daily lives in homes by 1987 as a doll that could converse with kids.
However, you’re probably wondered what this has to do with Google’s assistant?
Well, I’m getting to that point next!
Seeing the untapped market, Google entered with GOOG-411, which gave the search engine the power to conduct searches online directly to telephones.
A little confusing, I know; let me give you some context. The GOOG-411 was a telephone service by Google, which allowed users to talk on their phones and search locally. They had a toll-free number (800-GOOG-411), users would dial, add their residential details, and current city to search their queries.
Once the query was presented, Google would return to the user with options to choose from; however, we’ve come far from that.
Shortly after the first iPhone’s launch in 2007, Google introduced speech-to-text to phones using its database and launched a voice search app for iPhones.
This was the first “voice search” the world saw, and it gradually picked up pace from there. Ever since the shutting down of GOOG-411 in 2010, Google has been updating and maintaining its voice search to make it better.
Google is currently one of the top voice search engines in the market.
The Rise Of Siri
Not even a year later, in 2011, iPhone launched the next big voice search known as Siri on smartphones, which opened doors to a new world of opportunities that soon became popular among other brands.
Why Does Your Website Need Voice Search?
I would say the hype around voice search is justified; I mean, who doesn’t want the ease of verbally commanding a voice search assistant instead of having to type?
Big and major tech giants have aided in the growth of voice search and made it better for smartphone users.
So, you’re probably why voice search is so important for your website?
Voice Search Will Conquer The Future
As we further into the thrilling rise of technology, we can expect that voice search will be a significant part of it.
It has grown up till now, and there’s no stopping scientists and big giants from evolving it further because it’s still a wide field of unlimited opportunities.
With such a rise, would you want your website to fall behind in this race? As a website owner, you understand how crucial it is to stay ahead in the competition.
Websites that are already trying to integrate voice search make it vital for you to try it out too.
We all understand that if we fall behind with tech trends and use “the old ways,” people instantly turn away from such websites.
A classic example of this is how most of the population (worldwide) still prefer Google Chrome over Internet Explorer (or now known as Microsoft Edge.)
While Edge is trying to get back into the game, people still like Chrome better, and the reason for that is Edge didn’t implement new technology or improve when it needed to most.
Henceforth, people still remember it as a slow browser.
Likewise, if you disregard the implementation of voice search integration in your website, you could be losing customers to competitors with the voice search feature on their website. And trust me, you don’t want that.
To sum it all up, the right approach is to stick with the latest, evolving trends so that you’re on track and make the necessary changes to your website.
Additionally, staying on track will also help your website survive in the promising future of voice search.
It Improves User Experience
The focus of every business is to serve their customers and make sure they’re happy and satisfied enough to come back more. If you fall short in satisfying your customers, they won’t come back, which would mean poor ROI and the downfall of your business.
With that said, another reason you need voice search is to improve the user experience.
Smartphone users, along with technology, are moving fast. The world is going digital, and everyone is in a hurry to get things done quickly.
Voice search integrated websites will act as a support for people who are always on the move.
Imagine you’re walking into a meeting and remember you forgot to order medicines through a pharmaceutical website.
Now, you realize if you don’t order the medicines within the next five minutes, you can’t get same-day delivery.
The annoying part of the example above is, you have to get to the meeting and order the medications – at the same time, you have to log onto the website, type each medicine, and then order it.
The whole process is time-consuming and kind of irritating too.
But you know what could make this whole ordering process easier? You guessed it, voice search.
If users can access your website and search for their medicines to place an order using the voice search feature, they can save time and be done much faster than typing each medicine’s name.
Just imagine how easy it would make it for the user.
In addition to happy users, the feature could also help you attract more customers. If one happy user talks about your website in a group of friends, more people are bound to try it.
Who wouldn’t want to tell in their circle that they practically verbally placed an order online today and saved a lot of time?
Remember, happy customers, equal more customers equals more profit for you.
Your Website Can Rank
Google has the best technology for ranking a website on search engine result pages (SERPs).
The search engine has complete control for deciding which website gets to be on top and which website doesn’t – which means it all comes down to how you optimize your website to rank.
The search engine hasn’t really announced it yet, but with time voice search will be a part of its algorithm, meaning it will prioritize websites with voice search to provide maximum ease to users.
Okay, let me explain how that works step-by-step.
There is a reason why some websites rank above others organically, and the reason is a powerful SEO strategy.
When a user inserts a query, Google takes him or her to the closest possible answer.
It “thinks” of it as its responsibility to ensure that the user lands on the most relevant website that answers his or her query. This is done using your website’s SEO-optimized content.
Similarly, when you work on your website’s voice search SEO, you need to make sure you focus on the right direction because conventional SEO is quite different from voice SEO.
So now, when users use the voice search feature on their smartphones, Google will show the top results known as “position zero.”
If you make use of your voice SEO strategy, you can secure that position because Google favors any website that provides interactive web tools.
The Impact Of Voice Search On SEO
It is believed that internet voice search across websites will disrupt conventional SEO practices.
Do you know how?
Go back to my previous point where I said, “Google will soon announce that they’re adding voice search to their algorithm, and the search engine will rank those websites.”
That’s the reason businesses need to reshape their plans related to their websites and adopt newer strategies.
Here’s how voice search will impact SEO:
Adaptive Voice Search
We can currently see that certain people from some regions have problems conversing voice commands using the voice search. That might have to do with the accent or sentence formation.
The improved voice search will be developed to adapt to natural language to make it easy for users to converse.
The emerging technology will be able to grasp the user’s command and generate relevant results. The 2018 stats by venture capitalist and internet trends specialist Mary Meeker noticed that 70% of English voice searches were in a natural or conversational tone.
I think such stats will be the reason for improvising the voice search feature to adapt to a conversational tone.
Extensive Keywords & Improvised Questions
When you ask someone where they live, do you say “Where from?” or “Where are you from?”
I’m sure most will agree; it’s the latter. Just like that, people tend to be descriptive when making a query using the voice feature.
While written queries are concise and between three to four words, the voice commands aren’t this short.
This affects SEO because the SEO specialists will need to adjust and use long-tail keywords for the voice search to get relevant results. Longer keyword implementation will mean higher conversions.
In addition to long-tail keywords, SEO strategies should also focus on updating query-related terms that users commonly search for online.
The questions can be worked in the voice search SEO strategy to make sure users don’t have trouble searching.
The thrilling stats suggest that even the search engines will prefer showing websites with the voice search feature to make it easy for users to interact online.
There is a high probability that the SERPs will rank voice search results on the top three positions – which means your website’s voice SEO needs to adapt now before that happens. I assume it’s only a matter of time before the search engine bots are smarter.
Shift In The E-Commerce Industry
E-commerce is the industry that will benefit and be impacted the most due to the rising age of voice assistants.
Remember the pharmaceutical example I gave? I suspect that people will prefer shopping from online e-commerce stores using the voice search feature because it will get things done quicker.
So, what do you need to do? Optimize your website and add voice search for your customers to leverage and make quick purchases.
When Do People Use Voice Search?
Okay, so far, we’ve discussed voice search, understood the foreseeable impact on SEO strategies, and learned the importance of voice search on a website.
In the next part, I’ll be discussing when people prefer using voice assistants, which will give a clearer picture of how voice search is changing the internet world.
While On The Go
People prefer speaking to their voice assistants while driving or busy otherwise.
It seems easier than to stop and use your phone.
Additionally, let’s not forget that it’s life-threatening when you text or use your phone while driving, making voice assistant the better option.
Perform Instant Searches
The name says it all “voice search.” Why take the time to write something down when you can just say it to your voice assistant?
It saves time and energy by getting the job done quicker.
I think we can admit when I say that Google can get faster results via voice commands, unlike text commands.
Create To-Do Lists
Some people are always on-the-go and prefer to tell their voice assistants what needs to be done and why shouldn’t they? It’s faster and more convenient.
With their built-in voice assistant, they can just use their voice to write down their tasks for the day instead of typing them individually.
Control Their Smartphone Apps
Remember when you needed to unlock your phone, go into the app drawer, and locate the calculator to perform a simple calculation?
Well, voice assistants have changed that too. Now users can unlock their smartphones using their voice and command the assistant to open a certain app. How easy?
Instead of taking 4 minutes, they just need a few seconds to perform a calculation or open any other app that they need.
Additionally, if your app or website is optimized with a voice assistant, then that means people can benefit from it.
Dictate Comprehensive Speeches
Have you ever heard a podcast or watched a comprehensive video?
Some people, especially novelists, prefer to dictate their books, blogs, or speeches instead of typing them down to save time.
They either use recorders or their smartphone voice assistants to dictate and transcribe comprehensive material.
Read The On-Screen Text
There was a time people had to read a lengthy text to get the gist; however, the modernized voice assistants have provided an easier alternative.
Now, users can activate their voice assistants to read the text on the screen. The assistant narrates any webpage or document, making it easy for people to understand.
In addition to reading, users can also proofread their documents as well. The assistant can be trained to highlight any mistakes to ensure the information is on point.
Apart from reading documents and narrating webpages, the assistants are also used to read text images while driving or cooking. The user can command the assistant to read out the text message while the user can listen to it.
Another very common use for voice assistants is translation when foreigners meet one another.
The built-in voice assistants have been modified to understand different languages and then reply in the same language.
Likewise, it can also be used to translate documents, webpages, etc., into any user’s preferred language.
In some time, the voice search feature will be trained to understand numerous languages when people from different regions use their mother tongue to search the internet.
Before that time comes, the wise decision is to look into your website’s voice search technology.
The Top 7 Ways-HowTo Optimize For Voice Search
Now comes the real deal.
By now, I hope you have grasped the importance and relevance of voice search on your website.
I think this is the best time to integrate the technology; however, the next question is how to optimize for voice search?
The next part is going to answer that query.
Users And Voice Search
As a user, I’m sure you’ve used Google more often for queries, especially on your smartphone.
And I’m also sure it was for specific information, like the location of a store, if a restaurant accepts walk-ins if your salon has an appointment slot or the reviews of a product or service.
However, as a business that owns a website, it’s important you look at this from a user’s perspective.
How do you do that?
You answer every query you can expect from your buyers related to your product or service. Basically, your job is to make sure that you offer all the details about your store and the website. The details include your street address(addressees if multiple branches), opening hours, website address, ratings, and reviews.
Undoubtedly, Google is a smart bot, but if you provide every last detail, you’re making it easy for Google to direct users to your website. Remember, the more information you add, the easier you make it for Google spiders to crawl and discover your website.
The next thing that needs your focus is the details about your products and services.
Of course, you and your loyal customers know the insides of your products and services. But what about the new customers who don’t know? It’s your job to tell them what they need to know before they interact with your business.
So, think about the questions you would have if you were a new customer. What information should you show that encourages new users to interact with you? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? What sets you apart from your competitors?
Anticipate all the questions you think the users will ask and have the answers ready for Google to locate easily.
Consider All The Search Engines
If you think all you need to do is optimize your website for Google – I’d suggest you think again!
Did you forget about your iOS users? Apple’s voice assistant Siri uses Bing as the default primary search engine (I don’t think we will ever see Apple use Google, but it sounds like a good dream).
It’s a common train of thought that you only need to consider Google because that bot is powerful against all odds and competitors (sends chills down your spine, no?).
However, as I said, sadly, that’s not the case.
Of course, we live in a world where smartphone users are divided into two market segments – Android vs. iOS.
The debate is as old as I can remember, which means you probably know what I’m going to say next; however, let me elaborate anyway.
As a website owner, your business’s best strategy is to target both market segments, which means (you guessed it) optimizing your website for Google and Bing.
Now, the good news is you’ll be optimizing your website for Bing in a similar way you optimize it for Google.
Don’t disregard Apple users because they are numerous, and it’s as popular as Google users.
The second thing to consider is the voice SEO for Bing, which is (again) as important as Google. In fact, optimize your website for both search engines simultaneously to save time and increase your leads.
Invest In Schema Metadata
Schema is the markup language that supports webmasters and website owners to offer search engine detailed information about the content available on the site.
It’s basically metadata – the data about another set of data.
Schema lets you explain the detailed information about your business, products, and services available on your website.
When you leverage schema, you make it easy for Google and Bing to make sense of what your data means, which boosts accessibility to your website. Pretty cool, right?
If you successfully implement schema markup, you can get ahead of the competition in the evolving age of voice search.
Emphasize On Long-Tail Keywords
As I said before (and I’ll repeat myself), we tend to skip out helping verbs and even articles when we enter text-based queries.
And that’s because the Google and Bing search feature understands our user intent and gives the most relevant answer.
That’s not the case with voice-based queries.
When we talk about voice commands, people are more used to saying complete sentences (without skipping any words) for the voice assistant to understand.
To serve this purpose, you need to optimize long-tail keywords on your website. Long-tail keywords are complete phrases that are comprehensive and often longer than a query.
The keywords are very specific and account for almost 70% of search queries.
They aid in the voice search and conversational tones that customers use when conversing with the built-in voice assistant.
When you focus on adding maximum and relevant long-tail keywords, you give the search engine bots a chance to direct users to your website and boost visibility.
SEO strategists would be right when they say long-tail keywords are inexpensive and have a better chance at increasing click-through rate.
Amp Up Your Google My Business Listing
I can’t emphasize enough when I say “update your Google My Business Listing” page.
Okay, this point relates to my first point where I talked about providing all business-related information to your customers.
Except, of course, this will be a little different.
Let me tell you how.
Google My Business is a free-to-use tool for small and large businesses to create an online presence. Entrepreneurs can create a business profile available across Google, Search, and Maps, making it easy for customers to find you.
The Google business profile includes all the relevant information related to your business: a brief history, description of your product or services, branch addresses, contact number, store timings, website, etc.
When you’re optimizing your website for voice search, don’t forget to update your business listing.
You can use the profile to add long-tail keywords, answer generic queries, and add some schema markup to increase your probability of attracting more business.
So, what else can you do to update and improve your Google My Business listing? Add images to persuade customers to interact with your business.
For example, if you run a café, some pictures would be helpful and attractive (just make sure you capture the pictures in the best lightning because that’s important!).
Enable The Location Extension Of AdWords
Now I’m sure if you’re learning how to optimize your website for voice search, you already know what Google AdWords is and why it’s so famous.
However, for a refresher, Google AdWords is a PPC advertising platform that is a handy tool for businesses to display their business ads on search engine result pages strategically.
The ads place by bidding on keywords you want to target related to your business.
The location extension of AdWords is an extension that lets businesses create a “listing” profile with business details and upload it on Google. (yes, much like the Google My Listing profile I talked about).
The difference between the location extension of AdWords and Google My Business is that the extension displays your profile to prospective customers when they search for certain keywords.
For example, if you run a famous taco stand in the USA, your business will appear through the extension when users enter the query “famous taco” or “best taco place the USA.”
See the difference? One lets you create a profile; the other “advertise” your business to customers.
Optimize Your Business On Google Map Local Search Ads
Another trick to reach maximum customers is using the local search ads by Google.
Most people would admit that they use Google Maps to find a place and follow the directions. The service has proven helpful over the years and won the hearts of many.
Now, how can you use this service to optimize your website for voice search?
When customers enter a voice command to find a specific store, your business is listing powerful enough to display all the results starting from the closest.
The local voice search should be able to navigate customers to you.
Okay, I know I spoke too much, but what can I say; it was absolutely necessary.
I wanted to give my best shot to help you understand the importance of implementing voice search and strategizing for your voice search SEO to help you get ahead.
I have tried my best to make this article comprehensive; I’m sure down the line, there will be newer inventions and revelations that will compel us to leave the older version of voice assistants behind.
Perhaps we just have to wait and see what the internet technology has in store for us.
Got any questions? Let me know below. I would love to answer them!
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