How to Optimize Content for Voice Search
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Voice search has been possible for at least a decade. However, it has become popular through the technological advances of various devices and changes in users’ browsing habits. Now, it is essential to take it into account to obtain a good web positioning. Learn how to optimize content for voice search and effectively reach your audience.
What is voice search?
Voice search allows a user to make queries on the web through the use of speech. The development of artificial intelligence has enabled devices to recognize the human voice and manage searches accordingly.
However, the difference between a written and a spoken search is not limited to how the query is conducted. Content writing experts know that this also has SEO implications, which must be considered when optimizing a website.
Difference between voice search and web search
Oral expression is different from written expression. When performing a voice search we adopt a conversational language. We “talk” to devices just as we would talk to a person. We use longer and more complete sentences. On the contrary, when performing written searches, we appeal to keywords and suppress parts of the phrases.
For example, if I wanted to know the weather forecast in Madrid, I would write something like “Weather in Madrid tomorrow” or “Madrid weather forecast tomorrow.” It is a choppy grammatical construction that only pays attention to key words. Consequently, search engines provide multiple results that the user must review until the information they are looking for is found.
Voice search is more natural and provides a direct response. The above query could be formulated as follows: “What will the weather in Madrid be tomorrow?”, “What will the temperature in Madrid be tomorrow?” This difference in sentence construction affects SEO and search engine rankings.
How has voice search grown in recent years?
A lot has changed in the voice search landscape since Google introduced it in 2011. Its growth has been exponential, and it has managed to overcome age barriers. While young people were the first to use it, 41% of adults now search by voice on a daily basis. It is estimated that, in the United States alone, more than 110 million people search by voice. Furthermore, the expected growth rate for 2021 is 9.7%.
Convenience is one of the factors that has contributed to this increase. In reality, its expansion has been made possible by the massification of smart speakers and mobile technology. At the same time, the accuracy of the results is already close to 98%.
Some studies suggest that 55% of smartphone users make voice queries. This is a percentage that far exceeds the 20% estimated by Google in 2016. Contributing to this is the growing popularity of smart speakers. By 2022, it is estimated that 55% of households will be using these devices. For comparison, consider that, in 2018, they were present in 13% of households; this is an almost 400% growth in just 4 years.
How is voice search currently used?
Voice search applies to a wide range of tasks, from managing music playlists to shopping. A recent survey indicates that the most frequent uses of voice search through smart speakers relate to:
• Music requests (70 %)
• Weather forecast (64%)
• Curious questions (53%)
• Online search (47%)
• News (46%)
• Address inquiries (34%)
It should not be overlooked that 58% of users manage their weekly shopping lists using these devices. From there, it is just one small step to conducting the shopping. This is demonstrated by the 44% of regular users who already order food and other items through this method.
On the other hand, voice search represents an opportunity to communicate directly with the audience. 52% of users express their willingness to receive information about promotions and offers through voice search. 48% percent say they are open to personalized advice and information.
Why is it important to consider voice search?
Virtually any device has voice search capability, from a smartphone to home appliances to portable speakers. Users can perform voice queries directly on search engine pages or use devices and applications such as:
• Amazon Echo / Alexa
• Microsoft Cortana
• Google Home
• Apple HomePod
As people become more accustomed to interacting with these devices, the use of voice search increases. The sales forecasts for smart speakers are a testament to a not inconsiderable market. By 2022, voice shopping is estimated to reach $40 billion in the United States. Other estimates suggest it could reach $80 billion by 2023.
Why is voice search important for SEO?
The above data points to the importance of voice search for e-commerce, but these queries are also important in SEO content writing. Ignoring the growing popularity and use of voice search can seriously affect your business. Search engine algorithms have changed accordingly, adapting to user habits. Optimizing voice search will benefit your overall SEO, and you will be able to reach your target audience and increase organic traffic.
Already in 2013, Google modified its algorithm with Hummingbird to perform semantic searches. Subsequent updates continue to focus on improving the user experience and identifying search intent. In this sense, keywords lose relevance as different ways of formulating a query are recognized. In voice search, we adopt a conversational language, and Google has perfected its ability to “understand” meaning. In the past, only the concordance of the words was taken into account, so the accuracy of the terms was the most important aspect.
By providing more accurate results that answer the user’s question, you will also improve your ranking. This presents an all-or-nothing scenario in which whoever is not part of the voice search disappears. This is why digital marketing copywriting strategies pay so much attention to voice search. To further optimize your content, it may be worthwhile to engage copywriting services.
Voice search and semantic search
The development of artificial intelligence has enabled search engines to interpret user intent. This has led to more accurate results with the capability to detect spelling mistakes and contextualize the search. In this sense, Google considers the user’s previous queries and location in its results. For example, if you are at a train station and you ask “When is the next train to Madrid?”, it will utilize your current location as reference.
How to optimize content for voice search?
So, beyond using strategic keywords and phrases in your content, you must optimize your site for voice search. This will allow search engines to crawl, index and rank your page, giving it a prominent place in the results. These are slight changes that will have a significant impact on web performance.
Take a conversational approach to your content. Focus on engaging in dialogue and providing useful answers rather than forcing keywords into your writing. Voice search is much more natural. This is not to say that keywords will disappear, but it is undeniable that they have lost relevance to other considerations.
It takes a semantic search into account; that is, the meaningful phrases that search engines will crawl in the content are included. Try to match the user’s vocabulary and intent. The language we use when we speak is different from the language we use when we write. Voice searches often use local idioms or phrases, which are avoided in a written search. Optimize keywords for each specific region and be aware of local and industry speech patterns.
The above indicates the importance of using long-tail keywords. These allow you to optimize your content for voice search by matching the phrases people use in their conversations.
By including a grammatically complete phrase, the search engine will more easily assimilate it to the user’s search. As a result, it will optimize the featured snippets and position you at the top of the results. Search engines will be able to crawl the content better if you use long-tail keywords with a length between five and nine words.
Voice queries usually begin with a question: “What?”, “How?”, “Where?”, “Who?”, “When?” and “Why?”. Write your content offering as a direct answer to your audience’s frequently asked questions, so you will have a better chance of ranking higher.
To find out what your audience’s common queries are, enter a question related to your website into the search engine. Google will display a box with other frequently asked questions in addition to the answer you are seeking. Be sure to answer those questions to maximize their relevance.
The most efficient option is to create a FAQ page to answer these questions. Ideally, use the same adverbs that users use in their searches. Opt for concise, conversational answers.
To increase your page’s relevance in voice queries, you can replicate some of the common SEO practices. For example, title your web page or a content post with one of the frequently asked questions. Be sure to provide a concrete answer immediately afterwards. Then develop the theme while providing complementary data. Long-form content continues to be relevant for SEO content writing.
A considerable number of voice searches are location-specific queries. Keep in mind that location and mobile phones are closely related.
Statistics indicate that 46% of voice searches are local queries made from a smartphone. This is crucial for traditional businesses. They will be able to access customers willing to make the purchase, who are located within their area of operation.
Producing locally relevant content will improve your ranking in voice searches. Integrate local keywords in your content and use:
• Phrases or expressions from your geographic area or neighborhood
• The phrase “near me” in title tags, the meta description, internal links and anchor texts
• Names landmarks near your location
Google My Business is essential tool for local SEO and, therefore, for voice search. Keep your operational data up to date and include information such as:
• Contact telephone number
• Hours of operation
• Services or products
This will allow Google to crawl your page and get all the information it needs to accurately respond to user queries.
Both Google and other search engines attach great importance to page loading speed. This becomes even more relevant for voice searches. On average, pages that appear in the results of a voice query load 52% faster.
Structured data tells the search engine what a website is about. They are HTML plugins that allow you to contextualize the content and optimize the ranking in a search. Metadata is not observable by users, but it facilitates the work of search engines.
Today, most websites are compatible with the use of mobile devices. That is, its format is automatically adapted for viewing on smartphones and tablets. This is critical given the increase in traffic from these devices. In addition, Google’s algorithms take this into account because of its significant impact on the user experience.
Although this factor affects both voice and traditional searches, it is more important in the former. Remember that voice queries are mostly made from mobile devices. Also, make sure you have secure http protocols, especially if your site is used for commercial transactions.
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