By 2022, it is expected that more than 55 percent of all households in North American will have a smart speaker in their home. Sixty-five percent of adults aged 25 to 49 use voice-enabled devices every day.
Twenty percent of all mobile Google searches are voice searches – but it’s not just about mobile devices and smart speakers. Microsoft reports that a full 25 percent of all desktop searches are made using voice search.
It’s easier than typing; it delivers results faster; it’s convenient. The votes are in. Voice is the future. And with users relying on voice more, it is the responsibility of the financial marketer to be an advocate for a user-first experience.
Naturally, search engines have risen to meet the tide. Anything that supports a better user experience is going to be an algorithmic focus. Because of this, businesses are under pressure to refine their SEO strategies or risk losing valuable ground in search engine results pages (SERPs).
As Google continues to improve its language processing algorithms, search results will only get better. Adoption will increase. Resistance is futile.
Will you be ready?
Is your Financial Services Website Ready for Voice Search?
Voice search changes a lot for SEO. People speak differently than they would type, so keywords are swapped out for key phrases.
This is a much more conversational approach than your standard keyword query, which, before voice, was generally limited to two or three words. Voice search queries vary in length, but can be anywhere up to 10 words or more and have a natural language flow.
For example, a typed-in query might be something like: Grain marketing program.
If you used a voice query instead, it would be more like: Hey Google, what’s the best grain marketing program for soybean farmers?
The 1st Step in Website Voice-Optimization: Keyword Research
Finding the right search keywords has always been a critical SEO strategy. To optimize for voice search, you will need to work those keywords into key phrases that take this into account. Keywords that sound more conversational will rank higher.
If your keywords and phrases sound robotic, like “registered investment advisor,” you probably won’t get as much action as if you were to use something like “who is the best registered investment advisor in New York City?”
In this sense, the length of the keyword/phrase doesn’t even matter. As long as it sounds conversational and natural, you’re in the ballpark. And since different people tend to frame their speech differently, optimize your keywords around five or six similar phrases, like:
- Why do I need a registered investment advisor?
- What can a registered investment advisor do for me?
- Why is it better to use a registered investment advisor than a robo-advisor?
- What can I expect when working with a registered investment advisor?
- Where can I find a registered investment advisor near me?
- Can a registered investment advisor help me with financial planning?
You get the picture. Weave these keywords into your content. If you can answer these questions in 30 words or less, Google just might use it in a voice search result.
Once you’ve spoken your search query, what you would probably get at the top of the page is an answer via featured snippets. Featured snippets deliver clear answers without you having to click on a search result. Even if you are getting blue-link results from your voice search, Google will speak the featured snippet back to you in response to your query. Having a FAQ page or pillar page on your website with key questions and answers can help get you there.
Location, Location, Location
Voice search has also changed where people search. They use voice search while they’re walking down the street, when they’re in the car, at home, at the office, while they’re out with friends, at the gym, on the subway – you name it. You probably do it too. It’s easy, it’s convenient, and your search results are delivered much faster than any other search method.
Identify Question Phrases & Keywords
One of the biggest trends in voice search is questions. Where, why, how, who, when, what, and total are some of the top question phrases, and their prevalence is on the rise. This means the query keyword phrases you’ll want to include in your SEO strategy will be in the form of questions.
Why it’s Critical to Optimize Your Financial Website for Voice Search
The growing reliance on voice search means that your site content has to provide clear and direct answers to their burning questions. If it doesn’t, it will become more and more challenging to get your content in front of people. Optimizing your content for voice search is critical to your future success – not only in how you rank in search and voice search, but in the overall online experience you deliver to your customers.
Optimizing Your Financial Website for Voice Search
The good news is, you don’t have to rethink your website completely to make it voice search-friendly. Keyword, phrase tweaks, and content additions can help:
1. Keywords and key phrases: how long should they be?
Google answers voice search queries with results that are 29 words, on average.
Knowing this, your content should answer search questions in sentences that are about that long.
Do you have a FAQ page? If you do, this is a great way to start. Because FAQs answer questions and they’re usually around 30 or so words, a voice query that contains a question keyword is more likely to be delivered than, say, a blog post. Besides, a FAQ page can answer hundreds of questions, providing you with an opportunity to rank for those questions.
Beyond the FAQ, you can optimize other pages using long-tail keywords in your content. That way, each individual page can rank for a lot of different search queries.
2. Rank for featured snippets
Arguably, a featured snippet is even more important than the spoken answers you get from Alexa, Siri, and Google Home. This is because voice devices will only give you one answer. If you don’t rank for featured snippets, you won’t have a chance.
3. Write content that has a natural flow
Since voice searches are conducted using natural language, your content should be written in that way as well. Less than two percent of voice search results have the precise keyword in their tag. Search engines pull answers from pages where the keyword makes up a portion of the content. This is another argument for keeping your answers short and sweet.
4. Embed your long-tail keywords into your long-form web content
Less than two percent of all search results have the exact keyword in the title tag. This means that relevant information delivered in a short, concise manner will usually win the day. Pepper your keywords and phrases liberally throughout the content. This will help each individual page rank for more than just one long-tail keyword.
How to Optimize Your Financial Services Website for Voice Search
Here are a few actionable tips to get you started on your voice search optimization odyssey:
- Include filler words (like the, and, to, etc.), and you will get more matches.
- Aim low: write at an eighth-grade level, avoid jargon, stay away from big words.
- Make sure your site loads fast: voice search is fast. You need to keep up!
- Improve your domain authority. Google cares less for page authority and more about getting results from a trusted source.
- Write longer content: higher page word counts rank higher, plain and simple. Voice search top results are often even higher, mostly because longer content means that there is a better likelihood of matching a search query.
- Optimize for local: “near me” searches are some of the most popular. Optimize for the city, state, street, even the neighborhood or a local landmark.
Remaining aware of trends in SEO and voice search can help inform how you adjust your website to handle voice search inquiries as part of your SEO strategy. With a website that is fully optimized for voice search, the key to a great ranking future your hands.
Need some assistance in updating your website to better accommodate voice search? Contact us.
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