Let your voice be heard on mobile searches

Whether they’re working out, driving or cooking, most people are focused on something else while they’re doing a search. This trend, coupled with advancements in speech recognition technology, faster results and a desire for more contactless technology, has brought on an increase in the number of voice searches being conducted on mobile devices. According to ComScore, half of all smartphone users are using voice search technology. And this number is only going to go up.

Most people don’t speak the way they type. That means as more people are searching for answers using their voice and not their fingers, relevant keywords are changing. Whether they’re through virtual assistants or using search engines directly, queries are drastically different for voice searches than written ones. In order for users to find your content, it’s important to optimize your site using voice search keywords. Here are some things to keep in mind when optimizing your SEO for voice searches.

Include FAQs

FAQ pages often rank for several voice search queries. In fact, Google typically pulls answers to user voice queries directly from FAQ pages with the most relevant information. By creating a FAQ page on your site and including copy that includes specific questions people ask within headlines, subheads and answers, you can improve your ranking and your chances of having your article show up when customers ask a question using voice search.

Stay Local

How often have you searched for the closest coffee shop or gas station when you were out and about? Mobile devices provide the perfect platform for users to get local information while they’re on-the-go. According to Google, the importance of local searches and “near me” business queries have increased dramatically over the last few years. So how do you ensure customers find you when they’re livin’ la vida local? The best way is to create a profile on Google My Business and keep your information updated and consistent across all networks. Google gives higher rankings to businesses that maintain accuracy and consistency. If your hours recently changed, update them on your profile. Also, be sure to tag your category, especially if it’s not evident in your name. For instance, if your business is Cup of Joe’s, it may not show up in a query for coffee shops near me unless you tag it as a coffee shop.

Go Long

People tend to speak in longer phrases than they type. That’s because speaking them takes a lot less energy than typing them. For this reason, voice searches tend to be longer and more conversational, often asking specific questions. In order to convert users, content has to feature long-tail keywords and short complete answers. Long-tail keywords are more detailed and more targeted, so they’ll get less traffic but the traffic they drive will result in more conversions. Think of it this way—if you’re doing a search for an Italian restaurant, the results will be endless. If, however, you expand your search and keywords to an Italian restaurant on Nassau Street in Princeton, NJ, you will get a lot less sites that fill that query. The longer the keyword phrases, the higher the probability of conversion. However, Google tends to answer voice search in short 29-word results on average. Keep your answers to this approximate length to increase the chance your answer is used. If you use longer keywords in alignment with how people speak, you are more likely to reach your audience and show up in searches. AnswerThePublic.com and Ubersuggest are third-party tools that can help you identify questions people are asking so you can pinpoint relevant keywords.

A Little More Conversation

Whether it’s Siri, Google, Alexa, Cortana or a standard search engine, people talk to their assistants like they would a friend. So voice queries tend to be more conversational and natural. Keywords for voice searches need to be as well. Voice searches are usually full of questions and include question words such as who, what, where, when, why and how. Let’s say you wanted to make chocolate chip cookies. You may do a written search for “chocolate chip cookie recipes.” However, if you were using a voice search, you would probably say something like, “How do I make chocolate chip cookies?” Building content that takes these question words into account and answers your audiences’ questions will increase the chances your content shows up as the answer in searches.

The Need for Speed

Load speed is one of the factors Google uses to rank sites for mobile searches and Google Voice prioritizes quick-loading websites. The best ways to speed up your site is to optimize images, reduce file sizes and make sure your site is fully responsive. The faster your site’s pages load, the higher they will rank in voice searches. You can check your site’s speed and get tips on how to make it faster on many third-party sites, including  Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Site speed can also help you capture the coveted, featured snippet spot, which occupies the top position on search engine results pages (SERPs). Sites that occupy this spot typically tend to answer the question or search query in the best way.

The Bottom Line

In today’s environment being mobile first isn’t enough. Businesses also have to be voice first. There are many ways to optimize your content for voice searches. By following the five tips above to optimize content, phrases, keywords, metadata and more, you’ll be well on your way to moving to the top of every voice search result.