Voice search is where it’s at.
We know, we know. There’s always something new you have to keep up with and it can get exhausting, but that’s the
chore fun of online marketing. It’s a never-ending journey of trying to keep up with all the newest innovations. Yay.
Consider this; according to a Mary Meeker report, 20% of all online searches in 2016 were voice searches and Comscore is predicting that at least half of all searches will be be voice searches by 2020.
Voice search makes getting to the top spot even more important than text searching because with voice search, usually only one result is provided.
How do you get to that coveted top spot?
Well, start by reading this:
How People Use Voice Search
As with regular search engine optimization (SEO), the point is to fulfill your audience’s need for the information they’re searching for. (Ranking highly is more of a fringe benefit, really.)
To be able to give your audience the information they are seeking, it pays to know more about how voice search is used.
First off, people mostly use voice search in their home, with 43% saying they use it there most often while 36% say they mostly use it in their car and 19% say they mostly use it on the go.
Clearly the millions of smart speakers that are sold annually are fundamentally changing the way people search for things online.
People use voice search for a number of reasons, including:
It’s useful for when their hands and/or eyes are occupied doing something else.
It can lead to quicker results because people don’t have to sift through as many results.
It means people don’t have to type on their device’s tiny keyboard.
It allows people to avoid having to work their way through sometimes confusing websites looking for information.
It’s the cool, new, fun thing to do.
People want their information quickly and they don’t want to have to bother picking up a device to get it.
So, naturally, we can deduce that the No. 1 driving principle behind ranking highly for voice search is to give people the information they want quickly.
And this is how it’s done:
Forget Exact Query Matches, Focus on Semantically Related Keywords
Consider how you ask questions naturally while speaking versus how you type out a search query.
When we type out a search query, we usually try to make it as specific as possible while also using as few words as possible and especially not bothering with words we deem unnecessary like “What is,” and “the.”
To find the best kayak under $300, rather than typing “What is the best kayak to buy for under $300,” you would probably be more apt to type “best kayak under $300,” “top rated kayak,” or even just “kayak” into the search bar.
But, when voice searching, people are more likely to ask a full question or to use a phrase that is descriptive and simple so you can get exactly what you’re looking for and so you don’t inadvertently trigger some other action because you can’t click or navigate away from it as easily.
You’re more apt to use phrases like:
“Siri, what is the best kayak to buy according to reviews?”
“Okay Google, find kayaks by Emotion under $300 near me.”
“Alexa, show me best-rated kayaks under $300.”
Google says 70% of voice search queries it handles use natural-sounding language with full sentences instead of the few words we’re used to typing.
Your keyword strategy for voice search should be less about putting in exact keyword matches and more about providing as much pertinent information about a given topic as you can while trying to include phrases that you think people might ask about your topic.
Think more about long tail keywords and try to incorporate them in your content in a natural way in sentence form.
It also pays to give visitors the information right away. Eschew long intros and answer the six big questions (who, what, when, where, why and how) as quickly and efficiently as you can.
Further proving that high quality content presented well is more important than exact matches is this Backlinko article that says few voice query results have exact keyword matches in their titles. Verbatim just isn’t very important.
Make Your Content In-Depth, Pithy and Quotable
Another thing that Backlinko article says is that the average voice search result was just 29 words while the average word count of the page the result came from was over 2,300 words.
So, that means the search engines are scouring pages with thousands of words and just snagging tiny snippets from them.
The large word count means the content the search engine is drawing from is in-depth and covers a lot of ground on the topic (assuming the content isn’t just a bunch of fluff) and it has sentences and paragraphs that can easily answer the person’s query.
Going back to our kayak queries (kayueries), maybe someone wants to know the difference between a touring kayak and a sea kayak.
So, a page that has the easily quotable phrase:
“A touring kayak is designed to be stable and comfortable for kayakers of all ability levels and is meant for calmer water conditions. A sea kayak is generally longer and faster and is meant for more challenging water conditions on the ocean.”
… would be pretty likely to end up at the top of the voice search query for that exact query than a site that had a more wordy or complicated answer or where the definitions were split between paragraphs.
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Answer Your FAQs
Voice search’s penchant for pulling quotable sound bites off sites mean that frequently asked questions are a great place to start for voice-first content. Use the common questions that are asked about your industry and scour your own customer emails to see what people want to know.
You can also use tools like
Google’s “Other People Searched” and “Searches Related to ___” suggestions
We don’t often say this, but Bing is bigger than Google … when it comes to voice search, anyway. In text-land, Google of course reigns supreme, handling an estimated 75 – 90% of written queries.
When it comes to voice search, though, Bing is the thing, with these devices pulling their search results from either Microsoft Bing or even Yahoo:
Siri-enabled Apple devices
Microsoft computers and devices
Microsoft Xbox One
Amazon Alexa devices
Connected cars powered by Alexa, including:
If it doesn’t have a Google logo, it’s probably using Bing.
Bing SEO is basically the same as Google SEO. It just requires a different tool for analytics and displaying your content correctly on the Bing search page.
Extra Voice Search Tips
HTTPS > HTTP when it comes to Google Home results, so get that certificate.
Spend some time getting high quality backlinks, as authoritative websites rank higher.
Do the social media stuff because high ranking content has a lot of engagement.
When writing content, aim for about a 9th grade reading level so it’s easy for Siri and company to parse and read aloud.
Aim for that coveted featured snippet, but remember that Schema markup isn’t necessarily important to get it.
The main thing to remember with voice search is that it’s still about providing people with the best possible content. One of the things you can do to pump up the content on your site is to supplement the written content with good quality animated videos. A good whiteboard animation video will be an excellent addition to your site. Click here to get started on planning and pricing your very own whiteboard animation video.