Voice search is becoming one of the most popular methods of conducting online searches. Because of this, it stands to reason that voice search is having more of an impact on search engine optimization (SEO).
At home, in the car, or on their mobile, what we ask of the search engines today is a little different than the SEO keywords we’re familiar with. Keywords are still an essential part of SEO strategy, but now you also need to think about key phrases and imagine what your audience would say out loud. If you want to tap into this trend, it’s time to revisit your web copy and optimize with this in mind.
Who’s Using Voice Search and Why?
Voice search is growing at a rate of almost ten percent every year. According to a Price Waterhouse study, 71 percent of consumers prefer voice search over typing in their queries, and 43 percent use voice assistance to help them make a purchasing decision.
Microsoft reports that 27 percent of all voice searches in the United States are conducted on a mobile device. This number climbs higher in international markets. For example, 34 to 38 percent of consumers in Asia use voice-assisted search.
They’re looking for information; they’re making purchases, but for some, it’s more than just convenient – it’s necessary, especially for the disabled community or the visually impaired.
Additionally, voice search is faster and more accurate than typing. In a multitasking world, the need for speed is critical. When you don’t have to waste time typing out complicated queries, you can get on with what you’re doing that much faster.
How Voice Search Impacts Your SEO
Voice search is more conversational than traditional typed-in search queries. They flow as a complete thought, and they’re longer than the average keyword or phrase. You need to take that into account when reimagining your web copy.
For example, say you are looking for a good deal on a travel points credit card. In a traditional search environment, you might type in “best travel credit card.” If you were using voice search, however, you’d probably say, “what credit card gives me the most points that I can use for travel?”
Local SEO is another area that benefits from voice search optimization. According to Google, voice search phrases that contain the words “near me now” have increased by 150 percent in the last two years alone.
A typed search might look like this: “banks in Kalamazoo,” while the voice search might be more like “where’s the nearest bank to me that’s open right now?”
Google is Now an “Answer Engine”
Today, Google understands context much better than it did just a few years ago. They’ve introduced featured snippets to the SERPs, which are essentially short grabs of info that answer a specific query. If your website provides direct answers to common questions your customers might ask, you could appear at the top of the results.
Optimizing for snippets is especially poignant to voice search, as the vast majority of voice queries begin with words like “who,” “how,” “what,” “where,” “why,” “total,” and so on. Since snippets are often used to provide answers to voice queries, copy that can be read back easily gives the user the results they need without looking any further.
The takeaway here is that your content needs to provide direct answers. Otherwise, it might become difficult to get your content in front of new customers.
Strategies to Help You Optimize For Voice-Search Keywords
The key to success in optimizing for voice search is to focus on natural, conversational language. Natural-sounding keywords will continue to reward you in the SERPs as voice search continues to grow. If your terms sound robotic, it’s not going to work as well as a phrase that flows easily.
In the past, you might have avoided search phrases with too many words. But times are changing, along with the way we access information. While you don’t want to get too verbose, a conversational five-to-seven word key phrase is a good target to shoot for. If Google matches your key phrase to a search query, they’ll use it as a voice search result.
However, if you’re using Google Keyword Planner, it might not come back with ready-made question-style terms. If that’s the case, think about how you can turn some of those results into a question. We also like tools like Answer the Public, BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer, and TextOptmizer, as they’ll serve up the most asked questions about your topic. Based on the results, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what your customers are searching for and how they’re phrasing their queries.
Strategy #1: Answer the Question, and Keep it Short.
Here’s another interesting factoid. Google tends to answer voice queries with results that are 30 words or less, so if you can distill your answers into bite-sized chunks, all the better. FAQ pages, in particular, are a good place to start. FAQ is about answering specific questions in the most concise way possible, so the two go hand in hand.
For example, say you had a FAQ like “how do I file a home insurance claim?” If you can answer that question in 30 words or less, and if you’re optimizing for snippets and thinking along these lines, you’re in the zone. Statistically, more than 40 percent of voice search results come from a featured snippet. Plus, voice assistants like Alexa and Siri only give you one answer, so if you’re not focusing on this strategy, you’re not going to rank.
Strategy #2: Use Natural Language
Work your key phrases and long-tail keywords into your content naturally. Steer clear of terms that sound robotic or that don’t flow with the text. Google’s not looking for an exact match—remember, it’s pretty good at determining context and relevance—so the concept of “more is better” doesn’t really apply. If the phrase is relevant, even if it only makes up a small portion of your copy, Google will find it, serve it up, and highlight it on the page so the user can easily find it.
Strategy #3: Use Filler Words
Unlike keyword strategies of yore, which depended on an exact match of clunky-sounding, robotic words, today’s search engines favor natural language. So it’s okay to use filler words between the key terms because it makes the content flow better. Plus, since people are using filler words when they launch a voice search, it’s a closer match.
Strategy #4: Avoid Jargon
Shoot for a ninth-grade or lower readability in your content. The clearer your writing is, the higher it will rank for voice search.
Strategy #5: Optimize Page Load Speed
Since voice searches are lightning-fast, it stands to reason that your website should load quickly too. Page speed is a significant ranking factor in mobile searches anyway, so it’s a good idea to check your load speed to see how your site stands up.
Strategy #6: Build Domain Authority
There’s really no statistical corroboration on this besides evidentiary results. Still, Google tends to deliver voice search results from authoritative domains. Try it and see!
Strategy #7: More Content is Better
This point is more about the law of averages, but consider this; the longer your page content is, the more opportunity you have to include additional key phrases. More matches equal more hits; it’s that simple.
Of course, there are plenty more tips where these came from, but hopefully this is enough to get you thinking about how you can optimize your financial website for voice search.
If you need help optimizing your website for voice search, we’re always ready. Reach out today, and let’s talk about it.
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