How To Do SEO for Voice Search: 9 Tips

When Google makes something a priority, savvy marketers sit up and take notice. Search is one area where Google has been clear in its expectations, saying that “voice is not only helpful — it’s critical for many people’s daily engagements with technology.”

Indeed, PwC research shows that 71% of people would rather use voice search to search for something online than typing into the search box. Today, 90% of consumers are familiar with voice-enabled devices, including smart speakers, voice assistants and voice search on smartphones.

How can you incorporate voice into your SEO strategy? In this article, I’ll outline what voice search SEO is, why voice matters to Google (and to you, as a result), how to expand your audience with voice and different ways you can better meet searchers’ needs by optimizing content for voice search.

What Is Voice Search?

Voice search is a voice-enabled way of searching or completing a task on the web or in an app. Searchers speak their keyword, phrase, or question into a microphone on their mobile device or to a voice assistant such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa and, depending on the device, may receive results in text or audio format.

Whether speaking to a voice assistant or voice-enabled search engine, you can expect that the algorithm will bring back what it believes is the best answer for the query with special attention given to the fact it was spoken aloud.

What Is Voice Search SEO?

Voice search SEO is the optimization of content for voice queries and can include the keywords used, how content is structured, the schema markup to help Google understand its relevance to a voice query and more.

As Google states in its Voice Playbook, “More than a million new internet users come online every day, many of whom wouldn’t be able to interact with technology at all without voice input.”

Ensuring that content is accessible to all of those new users is so important to Google that it’s part of the search engine’s mission statement “… to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

In fact, better serving the needs of mobile users who increasingly use voice to search was the driving force behind Google’s introduction of the RankBrain machine learning system in 2015. RankBrain helps Google better understand the intent and context of longer, more complex queries (as is often the case with voice search).

Optimizing your content with voice search SEO can dramatically increase your potential audience and help you expand into new markets.

Knowing that accessibility — specifically, voice — is such a key priority for Google means it should also be a priority for every website publisher. Voice search is an essential consideration in future-proofing your SEO strategy.

9 Tips for Voice Search SEO

1. Know Your Audience

Hopefully, you have a pretty good idea of your customer’s pain points and needs gathered in the processes of product or service development, SEO, PPC and more (like your keyword research). Understanding who you are optimizing for and what matters to them is an important first step.

Begin by listing specific questions and voice search queries your prospective customers might use. These are a few great sources for expanding your list and your understanding of voice searcher needs:

Map out your customer journey and identify gaps in content where you aren’t meeting their needs at any stage.

2. Understand the Voice Search Landscape

Don’t assume that you’re up against the same competitors in voice search results. Research the competition and available opportunities by asking your queries of different voice assistants and devices.

Remember to query brand terms as well. If you aren’t coming back as the response for queries explicitly seeking information about your company and its products or services, that’s a good place to start optimizing.

You might find that Amazon Alexa, Google Home and speaking directly into Google Search via the mic on your smartphone all bring back different results.

Track your opportunities to target featured snippets and evaluate top-ranking competitors to inform your voice search SEO strategy. Our SEOToolSet® can help with this important competitor research.

3. Expand Your Keyword Research with Voice Search In Mind

Now that you have a solid grasp of who you’re trying to reach and who else is succeeding in voice search, dig into your keyword research to find new opportunities to optimize content.

These tools can help:

  • Keyword.io
  • Semrush
  • BuzzSumo Question Analyzer
  • Google Autocomplete
  • SEOToolSet’s Keyword Suggestions tool

See How to Select Keywords — SEO Guide Step 1 for more.

4. Keep in Mind the Various Ways People Use Voice to Interact

Google has identified four main types of voice interaction:

Four main types of voice interaction, identified by Google
Source: Google’s NBU Voice Playbook

Recording is most often used in messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Messenger, while dictation is commonly how users interact with text editors and keyboards.

Commands and conversational interactions are most relevant to the search experience, and, therefore for voice search SEO.

Users give a voice command in Google Search or YouTube Search in order to receive back a relevant set of results. And as Google points out, we tend to be more conversational in our interactions with voice assistants such as Google Assistant or Siri. We use longer phrases or even speak in full sentences.

This means in voice search SEO it’s important to optimize for both:

  • Head terms: Short phrases or single keywords with high search query volume and competition, such as [men’s shorts] or [flights].
  • Long-tail keywords: Three-word or longer queries that are typically less competitive and give the query greater context.

5. Keep Answers Brief, Direct and Simple

A Semrush voice search study shows that the average text length of answers to voice queries is 41 words.

The same study found that close to 97% of answers returned were from the top 10 results in organic Google Search, and that 70% of voice search answers occupied a SERP feature (60% of those being a Featured Snippet).

Aim for the top 10 and that coveted featured snippet in “position zero” by answering the searcher’s question as completely yet succinctly as possible.

This isn’t the place to show off your robust vocabulary, either. Content readability should rank around a Grade 8 level on the Fleish-Kincaid scale for best placement in voice search results.

6. Demonstrate Your E-E-A-T in Voice-Optimized Content

The importance of experience, expertise, authority and trust in written content is a hot topic and an essential element of voice optimization.

Providing the best possible answer is critical for Google. They aim to nurture and protect searcher trust by providing the highest quality and most trustworthy information.

How do you clarify to Google that your webpage ticks all those boxes? See our Complete Guide to the Basics of Google’s E-E-A-T to learn more.

7. Make Sure Technical SEO Issues Aren’t Holding You Back

A clean, accessible site will always perform better in search, with all other things being equal, regardless of the query medium.

Work through our Technical SEO Tips for more.

8. Use Speakable and Other Schema Markup

Help Google understand which sections of your webpage are best suited for audio playback on Google Assistant with Speakable schema, a type of structured data markup.

Once you’ve applied the schema to your page, submit it for review. This process can take up to five days. Google will let you know if the content meets its guidelines and is eligible for inclusion in Google Assistant results or not.

You can use other types of schema to make the topic, information type and structure of other content clear to search engines.

For example, Product markup can be used for any product or service, while LocalBusiness markup tells search engines about the page’s relevance to local business queries.

Use Google’s testing tools to troubleshoot schema markup in published content and code snippets.

9. Remember That Voice is Used for All Types of Queries

We tend to think of voice queries as things we ask Siri, Google, or another voice-activated assistant while needing to be hands-free — when you’re cooking lunch or driving a car, for example.

But voice search is used by all kinds of people to solve many different types of problems. People who struggle with low literacy, experience visual impairment, type slowly, communicate in complex languages, use lower-end devices lacking a full keyboard and more all benefit from using voice search versus typing in text queries.

In short, no topic, vertical, or business won’t benefit from optimizing for voice search.

Final Thoughts

Website publishers can help search engines better understand the relevance of content to voice searchers in many different ways. Work through the voice search SEO tips above as you create and deploy new content.

Then, make voice search optimization an integral aspect of your overall SEO strategy and enjoy the additional visibility and traffic it brings.

Interested in implementing voice search SEO into your site? Talk to us. We can help.

FAQ: How do voice assistants influence voice search results and rankings?

Voice assistants have transformed how users interact with technology, especially in voice search. As voice search becomes increasingly popular, understanding how voice assistants influence search results and rankings is essential for businesses aiming to maximize online visibility and engagement.

The Rise of Voice Assistants

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have revolutionized how people perform online tasks and access information. Voice search has become part of everyday life for millions, thanks to smart speakers and devices with voice control features. Search engines have modified their algorithmic processes in response to voice queries; this change affects how content ranks for ranking purposes and how it’s presented to users.

Voice Search and Search Intent

One crucial aspect of voice assistants’ influence on search results is understanding search intent. Voice queries are more conversational and natural than traditional text-based searches. Consequently, search engines aim to deliver concise, relevant answers that address users’ questions directly. To optimize for voice search rankings, it’s vital to provide concise and authoritative content that meets the needs of voice search users.

Structured Data and Featured Snippets

Voice assistants rely heavily on structured data and featured snippets to answer users’ questions concisely. By leveraging schema markup and optimizing content to be more structured, businesses can increase the likelihood of their content being selected as a featured snippet in voice search results. Achieving a featured snippet position can significantly enhance visibility and brand authority in the voice search landscape.

Voice Assistant Preferences and Brand Visibility

Depending on their algorithms and partnerships, different voice assistants may provide varying results for the same voice query. Optimizing content for specific voice assistant preferences can enhance brand visibility and ensure your content is presented to the right audience at the right time. Understanding these preferences and tailoring your voice search optimization strategy can yield valuable competitive advantages.

The Future of Voice Search and Recommendations

As voice search continues to evolve, businesses must stay proactive in adapting their content and SEO strategies to keep up with emerging trends and changes in voice assistant technology. Voice search is expected to play an increasingly significant role in how consumers access information and make purchase decisions. Embracing voice search optimization and providing valuable content that caters to voice assistant preferences will position businesses for success in the voice-driven digital landscape.

Step-by-Step Tips to Transform Your Site for Voice Assistant SEO

  1. Understand the role and impact of voice assistants on voice search outcomes.
  2. Analyze how voice queries differ from traditional text-based searches in terms of search intent and language usage.
  3. Optimize content to align with voice search users’ natural language and conversational queries.
  4. Implement structured data and schema markup to increase the chances of being featured in voice search results.
  5. Tailor content to cater to specific voice assistant preferences and algorithms.
  6. Keep abreast of emerging trends and changes in voice assistant technology to adapt your voice search optimization strategy accordingly.
  7. Monitor and analyze voice search analytics to identify areas for improvement and measure the impact of voice assistant influence on search rankings.
  8. Conduct competitor research to identify best practices and opportunities for voice search optimization.
  9. Create valuable and authoritative content that directly addresses user queries and provides concise answers.
  10. Use analytics and user feedback to refine and enhance your voice search optimization efforts continuously.
  11. Test and optimize content for different voice assistants to maximize brand visibility and exposure.
  12. Regularly update and refresh content to maintain relevance and accuracy in voice search results.
  13. Leverage user-generated content and customer reviews to boost brand credibility and visibility in voice search.
  14. Collaborate with voice assistant platforms and explore partnerships to enhance brand visibility and reach.
  15. Monitor search engine algorithm updates and voice assistant advancements to stay ahead of the curve.
  16. Utilize natural language processing techniques to ensure content aligns with voice search users’ preferences.
  17. Leverage social media and voice-enabled devices to promote voice search-friendly content and engage with your audience.
  18. Optimize website speed and performance to cater to voice search users’ need for quick and seamless results.
  19. Gather user feedback and insights to improve voice search optimization strategies.
  20. Stay informed about voice search trends and developments to remain competitive in the voice-driven digital landscape.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent SEO posts is better than the last!
Bruce Clay on May 8, 2024
The Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist
Bruce Clay on April 4, 2024
What Makes an SEO Program Successful?
Bruce Clay on April 3, 2024
How Can I Improve My Website Rankings Through SEO?

One Reply to “How To Do SEO for Voice Search: 9 Tips”

new seo is so hard for me, however i will try

LEAVE A REPLY

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Serving North America based in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Bruce Clay, Inc. | PO Box 1338 | Moorpark CA, 93020
Voice: 1-805-517-1900 | Toll Free: 1-866-517-1900 | Fax: 1-805-517-1919