Voice Search SEO

Tips to Succeed in Voice Search

What is a Voice Search?

Voice search uses speech recognition technology that allows users to enter search queries  using the voice instead of text. Voice search relies on NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology to determine accents, interests, behavior. Gradually this technology discovers the broader contextual and informational relevance of the specific query.

With the increasing popularity of mobile personal assistants, websites optimized for voice search can reap additional benefits.

Miromind offers actionable tips and ideas for the best SEO voice search optimization techniques that actually work. This is a voice search guide and at the same time a glimpse into our Voice Search SOP, based on research and experiments, that have worked for us and our clients.

Download Voice Search SEO Infographic

From Mobile Search Optimization to Voice Search 

Mobile search traffic accounts for 51% of the entire traffic that websites get. Of course the number will vary depending on the industry, however most industries get a fair share of their traffic from mobile devices. The SERP results for mobile and desktop search are different for exactly the same query, which has shaken up the SEO industry as marketers scrambled to adopt to the new mobile-first approach.

Now, with mobile searches becoming increasingly popular, voice search has started gaining pace, with over 20% of all mobile searches becoming voice searches. 71% of people between the ages of 18 to 29 use Voice Assistant. These numbers indicate that in the coming years the companies will need to adopt their strategies to not only mobile-first approach, but also voice-first approach.

Text Search Vs. Voice Search 

To better grasp the strategies that need to be put in place for voice search, we need to understand what makes the voice search different and why it requires special attention.

The way people search

People use different queries when they use voice search. Text search is usually based on direct queries like ‘vegetarian recipes’. On the other hand people tend to be a lot more conversational with their mobile devices, and ask something like ‘what can a vegetarian eat for lunch?’. The queries are usually longer and a lot of the times question-based.

There were two important updates that changed the SEO industry and have later become a foundation for the successful implementation of voice search commands.

The first one is Google’s Hummingbird update which prioritizes semantic and conversational search over the exact-match search addressing issues and answering user’s questions.

Another one is RankBrain which uses AI language-learning to learn what users mean when they search for something, trying to interpret the actual intent.

The way Google analyzes the page

With voice searches being question-based and conversational, Google may completely avoid title tags and analyze the content to find an answer.

If you have ever tried to optimize your post to be displayed as a ‘featured snippet’ on Google’s SERP, then optimizing for voice search will not be a whole new concept for you. If your content has that nugget of information that best addresses the question/query of the user, then it will use that nugget regardless of the page title.

The way Google interprets intent and chooses the answer

Google attempts to interpret the intent based on the user search and the device the user is searching from. The majority of voice search queries intent are answers to questions such as ‘where, what, who, how’ while these questions are divided into intent-based categories like ‘know, do or go’.

Google strives to deliver quick on-the-go answers to the users. If the user asks something like ‘where can i eat lunch’ using the voice search, the results will display the local 3-Pack as the answer. And if the user wants to know ‘how to run a marathon’ then Google will look for the shortest and the most structured instruction from the most relevant authority website.

Therefore the long relevant piece of content on authority website which asks/answers questions in a concise manner is the most likely candidate to appear on voice search result page. Much like the ‘feature snippet’ on regular text search. As to the ‘where-do’ combination, such as ‘near me’, ‘where can i eat’ etc, you need to have a well-optimized Google My Business page.

What Are the Voice Search Major Ranking Factors? 

1. Continue optimizing your website for desktop search. Websites that rank high on desktop search for certain topics are likely to be used for voice search results. Therefore it makes no sense to create ‘separate’ pages targeting voice search queries.

2. Authority of the domain matters. The more authority your website has, the more likely it is to appear in voice search results.

3. Address intent and pain points. While the website on the desktop search is more likely to be displayed using ‘direct’ keyword combinations such as ‘marathon training’, voice search will most likely display the website that has answered the question within its text (as the user is more likely to ASK the question): ‘how can I run a marathon?’. Therefore if you have an authority domain, your page is optimized for certain semantic and conversational groups of keywords AND answers the question or addresses  the pain point, then it will very likely be the number one candidate for voice search results.

4. Secure your website with HTTPS. For the past two years we have noticed that websites with SSL certificate perform much better on SERP, while websites with HTTPS protocol dominate the voice results page.

5. The content length and structure matter. The voice search results are dominated by pages that have over 2000 words of content. So if you were thinking of creating short pages using long-tail keywords – think again.

6. Work on Google My Business page. Given that a lot of the voice searches are ‘on-the-go’ searches with Google prioritizing top local business or ‘local 3-pack’ in its search results, you need to not only work on your pages and content, but also take your My Business page seriously if you haven’t already done that.

How to Optimize the Page for Voice Search? 

Now that you know the basics of what is important for Voice Search rankings, it is time to discover of how to actually make your page voice-search-friendly.

1.    Website Authority

First of all, you need to have an authority website, as most of the voice search results come from TOP10 of Google’s regular search. So continue with your regular SEO strategies for top desktop search results. The keywords your page is ranking for in TOP10, are more likely to appear in voice search results if you follow the instructions below.

2.    Use Long-Tail Keywords & Low-Hanging Fruits

Yet again, keyword research may be necessary. Considering that the majority of voice search keywords are conversational, then you need to discover long-tail keyword combinations applicable to your specific page.

Moreover, the majority of voice search queries have informational intent. So try to address as many pain points and answer as many questions on the given topic as possible. Look for ‘what, how, why’ combinations with informational intent. You can use Google’s ideas to think of more question combinations, in the ‘People also ask’ section in regular text search.

3.    Optimize your page

Voice search is another proof that your page needs to be ‘reader-friendly’. Considering that Google looks for an answer on your entire page, rather than the page title, the way you organize your content is very important:

  1. Good old ‘content is king’, has been replaced with ‘long content is king’. Although Google uses only short snippets in its search results, these snippets come from rather long pieces of content, over 2000 words on average.
  2. After you have discovered possible questions you can ask and answer within your article, make sure that you provide concise answers to these questions. The average length of answers that Google displays on voice search results is around 30 words.
  3. Adopt structure and simplicity. Google loves short paragraphs, simple language and lists. And this applies to SEO for voice search. Write well-organized, well-structured and short answers in plain English (or any other language you might be working with).
  4. Use many contextually similar questions within your article, but structure them logically. Do not just simply ask and answer random questions, make sure that the text ‘flows’ opening up the topic gradually and logically using h2 and h3 subheadings.

One thing to remember is that the combination of these factors is important. Having just authority domain or just ‘king’ content is not enough.