How many of us have a smart device in our home? Be it an Amazon Alexa speaker, a Google Home, Siri on our phones, voice remotes, etc. We live in a crazy connected world where almost anything you need is just a question away through a search. And thanks to technology, we can ask that question out loud now.
So, in a world where everyone is online you want to make sure your website gets found by anyone and everyone who is looking in your industry and location. And now, that includes voice queries.
Yes, I’m telling you that voice search has its own kind of optimizations that you need to do for your website. And we’ll give you the guide for the kinds of information you need to put on your website so it’s found in typed and voice searches.
The Voice Search Basics
The scary thing about our futuristic world now is that our search engines now understand context. Like if you first ask to see pictures of the Great Wall of China on your smart monitor, then follow up with a question of “how long is it?”, Google understands that “it” means the Great Wall that you previously asked about. Or, if you ask how far it is to the airport, Google takes into consideration your current location and tells you that it’s “20 miles” away. It’s part of the Google algorithm update known as Natural Language Processing or NLP. Essentially, Google learns the way you speak and talk to better return results that are relevant to you.
The thing with voice search, with content on your website, and with the nature of communication in 2021, is you need to be conversational. That will get you further than just about anything else in the SEO world. Google will display results, be that audio or visual, that can simply and easily answer the query. So you need to optimize for both kinds of searches.
It’s not as hard as you think. What is good for SEO practices in general will also help with voice search. But there are certain things you can do to make your website more visible for those newly popular voice queries.
Optimizing for Local Voice Search
Did you know one of the best ways to get found by people in your community is just by filling out your Google My Business profile? It’s how Google displays local results on maps on your computer and phone, it’s how people find what’s near them. And, it’s how voice search results return “near me” queries. They look for those local businesses that best satisfy the search within a close radius. If I ask Siri for “Appliance repair near me”, the algorithm will scour for local shops that have certain keywords on their website like your city, and business directories like Google My Business that also mention appliance repair and your location, then it will list it back to you.
Google My Business has become very sophisticated and can provide a lot of information about your business. And it’s one of the best tools possible for local search results and small businesses who rely on local search traffic. In addition to just your crucial Name, Address, Phone Number, you can add products and services. If you’re a restaurant, you can add your menu. You can add photos, collect and respond to reviews (today’s word of mouth and are absolutely needed to succeed in today’s world). You can add in updates and your blogs just like a social network. And so much more. When you list your products, as well as the locations you service, you’re optimizing for those local voice searches where people look for businesses “near them”.
In addition to business profiles like Google My Business or Yelp, you also need to include those keywords on your website. Make sure you list your products specifically and describe them. Then also make sure you list your location and the places you service. Then you’ve got a double threat of being relevant for those near me voice searches.
Optimizing for Information Seeking Voice Search
The first thing you do when you want to learn new information is usually type in a question. We might take out a few words here and there, but overall, most Google searches come in some form of the “who, what, where, when, why, or how”. How do I get to the airport? Where is the closest nail salon? Who won last year’s Super Bowl? It could go on forever. You might take out the actual question word and just say “nearby grocery store”, but still you’re asking a question.
Now back to your website, the best way to optimize for voice search is just to make sure you’re designing it with those questions in mind. Does your website answer the kinds of questions your audience would be asking? You need to make sure you answer questions that you know your customers or potential readers would ask. Do you explain your products and services clearly? What about your company? Is it easy to understand what you do and how you do it? Or if you provide information, is your expertise clear on your website with your chosen subject? Even within a blog, is your writing really technical, or filled with keywords that are easy to understand?
Of course you need to write to your audience. So if you have a website that talks about the latest Astrophysics findings, then of course you need to have more authority and answer the questions that people in your audience would ask.
The best thing to do for these kinds of voice searches is know your audience. Then tailor your content to that audience and the kinds of information they would want to know. Then start to write content and optimize for the questions you know they will ask. And if you do that well enough, Google will take notice and start to raise your rankings. High rankings in typed SERPs yield high rankings for voice queries as well.
Optimizing for Specific Search
At Boostability we get a lot of questions about how to optimize for very specific industries and specialties. Like businesses that are only a handful in the entire country that offer a certain thing. Or even doctors who specialize in a certain kind of treatment like wisdom teeth, and that’s all they do. So how to reach more people when you only offer a specific kind of service?
This comes down to a specific keyword strategy. National, or even international SEO is different from local SEO strategies. And if you have one of these niche industries or websites, you need to include keywords that people searching for these specifics would look for. It’s more unlikely that someone looking for these specifics would have a voice search query, but it is still possible.
Those answering specific questions with specific keywords will often earn the featured snippet or position zero in the SERPs, which are often read out in the voice query results. So these keywords with specific intent and content to back up that information will yield the highest SEO results.