In the past few years, the number of voice search queries has grown to be over 20 percent of all Google searches. In future years, that percentage will surely increase as people speak rather than type their searches. How can you optimize your website’s SEO for voice search?

Voice search has come of age

Why is voice search so popular? About 2 years ago, Siri, Apple’s digital voice assistant, was still frequently used as the punchline in the popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Mostly because her answers were often absurd and completely missed the point.

Today, Siri has matured and become more advanced. And it’s not just Siri: smartphones themselves have become “smarter.” We rely more and more on our phones and tend to carry them with us wherever we go. Whenever we need to search for anything, our phone is always within reach. That has led to an exponential increase in searches through our phones rather than on desktop. It’s safe to assume that that number of searches will only increase over time.

Using your phone, it’s much easier to launch a search query through Siri or Google, rather than type the search into your phone. But the growth of voice search won’t be limited to mobile phones. The rising popularity of smart home tools and the rise of the Internet of Things will also play their part in the growth of voice search statistics. In the near future, the Google Home speaker in your office will inform you that your home thermostat needs to be raised before you head home, after asking Google how cold it’s going to be tonight.

All these developments will lead to a significant increase in voice searches. As an online marketer, website administrator, or SEO-copywriter, it’s important that you prepare for those changes. Those updates will also help optimize your website for typed queries.

SEO optimization for spoken searches

Since spoken and typed searches are so different from one another, exactly how can you change your website in order to rank highly in voice search results? We’ll cover that with a few tips:

1) Long tail keywords
Voice searches are generally a bit longer than text searches. That’s why it’s important to use long tail search terms. For example, consider this search: “carpenter Birmingham” (typed) versus “Where can I find a good carpenter in Birmingham who is specialized in built-in custom closets?” (voice search). To score higher in the results for a spoken search query, it’s important to incorporate all the bold-type words as keywords on your website.

2) Reviews
“Where can I find a good carpenter in Birmingham?” For that question, local reviews are essential for a high ranking. Sure, you can think you are pretty great, but for any potential customer, what others say about you is key.

Make sure that your company’s information is available on relevant review sites and aggregate sites that are linked to your field of work. Encourage your existing customers to leave recommendations or feedback about your products or services on those websites. That also helps you develop inbound links. And those are important factors for Google. Read our blog post about link building for more tips on that topic.

3) Structure FAQ’s
The syntax for voice searches overlaps quite a bit with any FAQ’s on your website. That means it’s smart to add those to your site if they’re not already there. Take a critical look at your FAQ’s to make sure they are questions your customers are (frequently) searching for and ensure that the answers hold all the information you want to communicate to your customers.

4) Readability
Readability is one of the most important criteria for Google. If something is easy to read for a website visitor, the same goes for Google. Packing pages and titles with keywords is something that Google has been discouraging for a while. Focus on the kind of information your customers are looking for and the best way to present that info. Use short sentences and linking words. That works best for voice searches as well.

5) Everyday language
Voice searches use everyday language. As much as possible, consider the information on your website a conversation between yourself and your customer. Avoid formal or “written” language as much as possible. For example, in a text search, someone would search for “price of custom closet.” In a spoken voice search, you’d probably see something more like, “How much does it cost to build a custom closet?” By adjusting your use of language, you’ll improve readability for your visitors (see point 4). That’s because “spoken” language is easier to read than “written” language.

How do I test my content’s readability?

Readable content is essential to your Google results. That’s true for typed as well as spoken searches. But how can you test the readability of your content?

Of course, you can simply let someone read it and ask for feedback, but other readers aren’t always available (or suited to the task). That’s where webtexttool can be of help! The tool analyses your text for readability and offers suggestions on how to improve your writing. That way you can kill two birds with one stone: great, readable content for your customers that also ranks high in Google searches!

 

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