Voice commerce. A fad, or the future?
The statistics suggest the latter. Every month, more than a whopping one billion voice searches take place*. The tech voice searches rely on is growing, too – and the number of voice assistants in use is set to hit 8.4 billion by 2024**.
The question, then, becomes not whether voice search is a fleeting trend (it’s not), or whether your business should tap into it (it must). But how to optimize for voice search: from your website’s content, to the blogs, social media posts, and articles you write.
If you’ve built your site using a website builder, chances are it’s given you tips and prompts on optimizing for SEO – but probably not for voice search specifically. Voice search optimization is an emerging field, and quite a complex one – so it can be hard to get the hang of at first. That’s why we’re breaking it all down for you below.
We’ll discuss what voice search optimization is, and how it can benefit your business. Then, we’ll get into the nitty gritty: from voice search keyword research and mobile-friendliness to local SEO and technical considerations.
Ready to read up, listen up – and let your customers speak up? Let’s get started!
Fortunately, the key to understanding voice search is, quite literally, in the name.
It refers to when a web user searches for things online not by typing their query into a search engine – so 2000s – but by simply speaking it out loud. Voice commerce allows customers to simply say what they want to buy, and see instant results!
Whereas a traditional search comprises the person, the search engine, and a computer or mobile, a voice search involves the person, a virtual assistant, and a device equipped with the tech to facilitate it. This includes:
- Smartphones: most of which, these days, have built-in voice assistants: including Siri (on iPhones), Google Assistant (on Android devices), and Bixby (on Samsung devices).
- Smart speakers: devices like Amazon Echo with Alexa, Google Home with Google Assistant, and Apple HomePod with Siri all enable voice searches.
- Most computers, laptops, wearable devices, tablets, and smart TVs in 2023 come with the ability to facilitate voice searches, too.
Voice commerce is a type of conversational commerce: a movement which also includes talkative tech like live chat tools and chatbots. Dive into our guide to find out more!
Now you know what voice search is, and how your customers are tapping it. But the question remains – how does your business stand to benefit from voice search going forward?
The many benefits of voice search include:
- An enhanced user experience: voice search offers a more natural, convenient way for your customers to discover and interact with your business. There’s no need to scroll through menus – or strain their fingers with lots of typing and clicking!
- Increased accessibility: voice search opens up opportunities to individuals – people with disabilities, for example – who may have difficulty using traditional input methods, such as typing or touching a screen.
- More brand visibility and organic traffic: optimizing your content for voice search can improve how likely your website is to appear in voice-powered search results.
- A competitive advantage: by being an early adopter of voice search technology, you can attract – and engage – with similarly tech-savvy customers who appreciate voice search’s simplicity, convenience, and innovation.
Keyword research is the process of identifying the common questions or queries your users are searching for when they activate their vocal cords and take to Google.
By utilizing tools such as Semrush (paid, and brilliant) or Wordstream (free, albeit limited), you can collect and curate the keywords your target audiences are most interested in. Then, it’s simply a matter of integrating them naturally into your content.
How? Here are our three top voice search-specific tips for bossing your keyword research:
- Optimize for long-tail keywords: usually, voice searches involve long-tail keywords – ones which incorporate longer, wordier (and often more specific and detailed) phrases. For example, “best bike helmets for kids” is a long-tail keyword, compared to just “bike helmets.” These long-tail keywords are particularly valuable. Not only do the have less competition (that is, other businesses targeting the same words), but they’re typically higher intent – meaning the user is more likely to make a decision, or take a valuable commercial action, if the search result is right.
- Adapt to natural language: huh? Let us explain. Voice search queries are typically framed as “natural language” questions or commands. Keyword research helps you uncover the specific phrases and wording your users are saying when making voice search queries. With a knowledge of this knowledge, you can create content that matches the language patterns and conversational tone of a voice search – making it both more relevant and appealing to users searching this way.
- Provide direct answers: good keyword research helps you optimize your content to provide answers to your customers’ queries in the most concise, specific, and accurate way possible. Better still? Offering up direct answers boosts your chances of claiming Google’s coveted “featured snippet” (also known as an “answer box”) – and with it, that coveted spot in its search engine results pages.
You may already be optimizing your brand’s content – your articles, your blogs, your ebooks, your social media posts – to achieve search engine success. In this way, so too can you set up your site and its content for better visibility in voice searches – and many of the techniques are the same.
Some are slightly different, though.
Here are our three top tips for optimizing your website content for voice search in 2023:
- Keep it conversational: remember, users aren’t typing these queries out – they’re saying them. So when you write content for your website – be it landing page or blog – be sure to use language that reflects how your users actually speak. (Hint: making your copy conversational is actually also a brilliant way of appearing human, relatable, and down-to-earth – so it’s something you should be aiming to do anyway!) Check out our copywriting tips for more advice.
- Structure your content: breaking up your content with headings and subheadings isn’t just fantastic for readability (all readers are scanners, remember!) – it’s great for voice search, too. By integrating keywords into your headings, it boosts your content’s chance of being offered up by Google as a top result for voice searches for those keywords.
- Answer FAQs: through your keyword research, you should’ve already put your finger on the top questions your users are asking. By laying out portions of your website content in an FAQ style, you help search engines understand that you are, in fact, answering your audience’s most burning questions.
Hungry for more information on how to ensure your website – and its content – rank well in Google and co? We’ve rounded up all the SEO basics you need to know about in 2023.
You’ll already know that in 2023, people aren’t making Google searches from a desktop computer, at their home or office, alone. They’re doing it from mobile devices: smartphones, tablets, wearable devices. And they’re doing it, more often than not, while on the go.
This is especially the case with voice search – a style which, because of its speed and convenience, lends itself to the kinetic pace of life mobile devices tap into.
So how can you optimize your website for voice searches made on mobile?
- Implement mobile-friendly design: ensuring your site has a responsive design – so that it adapts seamlessly to different screen sizes and resolutions – allows it to be both easily accessible and visually appealing on mobile devices. So be sure to test your website across multiple mobile devices, and harness mobile-friendly design practices: large, readable fonts, well-spaced buttons, and simple navigation.
- Increase your website’s page load speed: voice search users – especially ones on mobile – expect fast-loading websites. (No – they demand them!) So to expedite your page’s load time and performance, be sure to compress images, use browser caching, and harness the benefits of content delivery networks (CDNs). Regularly test your website’s load speed, too, and its performance vis a vis Google’s Core Web Vitals – Google PageSpeed Insights is our go-to for this.
To learn more about how to make your website more mobile-friendly for voice search users, explore our comprehensive guide. Or, discover why a fast loading site is so important for SEO in 2023 in our deep-dive into Website Load Time Statistics
Ever been hungry, out and about, and – on a whim – spoke “Hey Siri, find a burger restaurant near me” into your iPhone?
If so, you’re already aware why local SEO and voice search go together like ketchup and mustard. Now, you need to understand it from a business perspective – and why optimizing your website for local SEO and voice search is so crucial.
To get started, first ensure business’s Google My Business profile is all correct and up-to-date – especially the basic details, like your business’ name, contact details, and opening hours.
Next, follow these steps to optimize for locally-driven voice searches:
- Incorporate local keywords throughout your website’s content: include the name of your city, region, or neighborhood in your website copy, meta tags, headings, and image alt tags – it’ll help Google associate your website with local searches.
- Create localized content: this is blogs, social media posts, or ebooks with a distinctly local flavor – that highlight nearby events, attractions, or news related to your industry and brand, and that’s relevant to your target audiences.
- Get on the right online directories: make sure your business is listed accurately on relevant online directories, review sites, and local business directions. Consistency is key here, too – so seek out your business’ presence on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Yellow Pages and more to ensure its information there – particularly its name, address, and phone number – are all consistent. And, of course, correct!
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For more tips on How To Use Local SEO to grow your small business, check out our full guide!
You didn’t think we’d let you get away without a few technical considerations, did you?
Of course not. So before we leave you with our roundup and FAQs, let us highlight three of the key final, finicky things to think about when it comes to voice search:
- Get to grips with schema markup: adding structured data to your site helps search engines make sense of the way the content is formatted and arranged: supporting it, in turn, with understanding the nature of the content, and its relevance for users. You can, for instance, add schema markup to your FAQs to tell Google that they are, in fact, FAQs. You can also use schema markup to boost your local SEO voice search efforts – by using structured data to provide search engines with your business’ address, phone number, opening hours, and customer reviews.
- Ensuring fast and secure website performance: a fast website is a well-optimized website – and a well-optimized website is one well-equipped to appear in your customer base’s voice searches. So optimize your website’s performance by minimizing server response time, compressing images, leveraging browser caching, and implementing SSL encryption to safeguard your site’s connection.
- Optimize your image and video content: optimize images for SEO by using descriptive file names, alt tags, and captions relevant to both content and context, you can help search engines understand – and present – your images and videos in voice search results. This is particularly important when it comes to product images and descriptions – which you definitely want appearing in voice search results!
Successfully optimizing your voice search isn’t an art, or a science – but somewhere in between. And, while it is technical, it isn’t solely technical. Voice optimization is more like a heady cocktail: a selection of ingredients that balances flair (writing conversationally, for instance) with the technical (adding schema markup, and improving your page load speed).
But most of all? At the end of the day, voice search – like all types of SEO efforts – is trial and error. No one thing will set your site up to be perfectly voice search optimized. What the techniques we’ve outlined here can do, though, is offer incremental change. Enabling your site, bit by bit, to become better placed to rank well in an emerging, yet highly lucrative, area of search.
So good luck, enjoy, and let us know how your voice search optimization efforts are coming along in the comments. You’ll have to type them in, though, because our comments section isn’t set up for voice search…
These platforms – such as all-rounders Wix, Squarespace, and GoDaddy, or ecommerce-specific ones Shopify and BigCommerce – allow you to build a site in moments. (And start selling through it in days.) Once you’re all set up, you can start utilizing the tips we’ve provided above to begin optimizing your website for voice search.
Not sure which platform to pick? Our guide to the best website builders is powered by proprietary in-house research. Trust us – we leave no stone unturned!