How Do I Optimize for Voice Search?

Just when you thought you had the world of SEO figured out, voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant present a new challenge — voice search. In the past, searching for information online meant manually typing out questions, but for several years now, a growing number of people are utilizing voice search to get answers without having to lift a finger. From smartphones to tablets to voice assistant devices, Internet users are finding it faster and more convenient to just talk directly to their technology.

What Is Voice Search?

Voice search is an increasingly popular technology that allows users to give a voice command to a compatible Internet device, which then answers their question either through a written result or audible response. The convenience of saying a question aloud instead of typing it into a search bar has made finding information online easier and faster.

With less effort needed to get answers about a topic, it’s no wonder that an estimated one-third of people in the U.S. have a smart device with voice search capabilities. Whether you use them to check the weather, look up directions while driving, or find a doctor who offers an exciting new treatment, voice search continues to grow as a way to simplify the online search process.

7 SEO Strategies for Voice Search

With voice search being so prevalent these days, search engines have evolved to accommodate these types of queries. To help position your practice in front of voice searchers, take a look at some of the ways you can adjust your SEO efforts.

1. Focus on Local Search

A large number of voice search queries are for local products and services. This is especially convenient because people often use their smartphones, which tend to track their location. Since so many people are seeking businesses near them, make sure to claim local listings for your practice, and provide your office location(s) where it naturally fits within your website.

2. Take Note of the Questions You Hear

Do people tend to ask the same questions about your practice or services? This is a great start for optimizing your website to appeal to voice assistants. Offer answers to the most popular questions you hear, because there’s a good chance that for every individual who asks in person, two or more are asking online through voice search.

3. Listen to How People Refer to Your Practice and Services

Similar to making note of the questions you hear, pay attention to how people are referring to your practice. Internet users tend to ask questions to their voice assistants differently than they would type them into search engines. Voice search is typically more conversational, using simpler and more natural verbiage.

4. Optimize for Long-Tail Keywords

Part of this conversational tone is speaking in longer phrases instead of two- or three-word text searches. This is why long-tail keywords are becoming more important than ever. A great way to optimize for full phrases is to remember you’re speaking to the average person. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) pages or sections can be valuable for reaching these voice searchers.

5. Make Easily Digestible Content

A major reason why many people prefer to search via a voice assistant is having a simple answer read back to them. To position your practice and website as the best resource, it can be helpful to provide easily digestible answers. As a bonus, your answer may show up under a Featured Snippet section on Google, due to your clear information.

6. Strive to Get Featured Snippets

Also known as “Position Zero,” a Featured Snippet is a special feature on Google that, in theory, shows the best answer to what is being searched. When a person uses voice search, the Featured Snippet is typically the answer that is read back to them. By optimizing your content to get into one of these highlighted sections, you could potentially rank above all results and be the first answer shared by voice assistants.

7. Upgrade to a Mobile-Friendly Website

Since most people are using voice search on their smartphones, it’s vital that you have a mobile website, so they can view your site in an easy-to-use format. Not only can this encourage voice assistants to favor your site, it helps your practice appear up to date so visitors know they can expect the same modern feel when they visit your office.

While there are still limitations in voice search (e.g., not wanting to use them in public places, the programs not understanding the user, etc.), this technology continues to become more sophisticated, and the number of users continues to rise. As you work to improve your efforts for voice search, make sure your main goal is to genuinely improve your content to help your audience. By doing so, you can help build your reputation so Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and any other voice assistants view you as the best, most credible source.

Want to learn more about how your practice website can better appeal to voice searchers? Contact us to learn which tactics can make a difference for your practice!

The original version of this post was published on May 31, 2017.

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