In 2018, 27% of the global online population was using voice search on mobile, according to Google, and the number is likely higher now. Today, there's no doubt that voice search optimization is no longer a trend but an essential SEO strategy to reach mobile users on the go.
According to Google, about 27% of online users globally use voice search on mobile devices. To put things in perspective, in the USA alone voice assistants are used by over 111 million people. In addition, Statista predicts that the global voice recognition market will reach $27.16 billion by 2026 from $10.7 billion in 2020.
These statistics show that voice search and voice recognition are related, growing niches, both essential for marketers today. To remain relevant and competitive, entrepreneurs should not ignore voice SEO, and here are several critical, timely, and necessary tactics and strategies to ensure that your site is voice-search ready.
Voice Search Optimization Strategies
In some ways, voice SEO is like traditional SEO: put your customer first and optimize for natural language instead of focussing on exact-match keyword phrases. However, voice search optimization requires higher content refinement based on device limitations.
Understand your consumers and create persona-based content: like traditional SEO, voice search optimization requires you to understand your customers, their needs, and behaviour patterns. For example, the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report revealed that:
- 67% of Millennials and Gen Zers use voice-activated personal assistants to connect with companies.
- Compared to B2C consumers, business clients are 3.3 times more likely to appreciate and use voice-activated personal assistants.
- 59% of consumers stated that voice-activated personal assistants already significantly impact their experiences.
Besides their preference for voice-activated devices and voice search, companies should also refine buyer personas based on shopping behaviours, location, and other data points. But, first, use analytics software or platforms - Google Analytics 4 (GA4) - to gather historical and real-time consumer data.
Adress your customers’ questions and solve their pain points: once you understand your consumers, you should create content that addresses their needs and answers their questions.
Use conversational, natural language and long-tail keyword phrases to optimize your content.
Ideally, your content should address the customers' frequently asked questions clearly and concisely, using a primary long-tail keyword phrase and semantically related keywords.
Pro voice SEO tip: create a landing page for each FAQ. Use the headline to ask the question, provide a short answer in the first paragraph after the title and reserve the rest of the page for details, facts, and statistics. Answers to FAQ may enhance your site's chances of exposure in search through placement in Google's Featured Snippet box.
FAQ questions follow the journalistic 5 W's and H Chart: who, what, where, when, why, and how. It would be best if you answered queries beginning with these words to optimize for voice search and the Featured Snippet box.
Optimize for mobile devices and local searches: Google enabled mobile-first indexing in July 2019, and since September 2020, the rules have applied to all websites. Therefore, optimizing for mobile devices is no longer an SEO recommendation but a mandatory requirement for all sites.
Google offers detailed instructions for mobile-first index optimization; therefore, if you have not optimized your website yet, you should review the guidelines and make the necessary adjustments as soon as possible.
To refine your optimization efforts for voice search, consider that most queries are for local businesses. "Near me" searches keep on growing every year.
It would help if you also optimized for other customer interests. For example, a 2018 study by Adobe found that "the most common voice activities are asking for music (70%) and the weather forecast (64%) via smart speakers. Other popular activities include asking fun questions (53%), online search (47%), checking the news (46%), basic research/confirming info (35%), and asking directions (34%)."
Use schema markup to optimize your content further: this is useful for voice and traditional searches. Schema markup is microdata (structured data) used by many search engines and applications (Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, Yandex, and others) to understand the content and its purpose. Implementing schema markup may help your site rank better in search, delivering more relevant results to specific queries.
The organization of schemas is complex and broad enough to address most business needs. Therefore, a DIY approach to schemas is not recommended: instead, hire a seasoned SEO expert for website audit and advice and a coder to implement schemas correctly.
Although similar to traditional SEO, voice search optimization requires refinement and attention to detail. Optimize your content for the natural language - using terms as they occur in a real-life conversation - and for buyer personas. Remember that voice searches happen on mobile devices and voice-activated personal assistants. Finally, optimize your content for local searches.