“Hey Siri: How can I help people find my website?”
When they first arrived on the scene, smart/voice enabled devices were a fun and novel way to search for things. But many questioned whether they would amount to more than a quick way to know how many tablespoons are in a gallon (256 if you’re wondering). We’re here to say that voice enabled devices are not only here to stay, but are becoming a common and useful part of our daily lives. If you have any involvement with marketing a business, take some time to consider if and how you should optimize your website for voice search.
Voice Search is Growing
In case you doubt the growing momentum of voice search, here are a few stats that might change your mind (as of December 2019):
- 72% of people say their voice-activated speaker is part of their daily routine: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/voice-assistance-consumer-experience/
- More than 53 million Americans now own a smart speaker
- Voice commerce is predicted to jump to $40B by 2022: (The voice shopping market was worth about $2 billion in 2018.)
Voice Search is Everywhere
- Mobile – 20% of Google searches on the Google mobile app and android are voice. Siri is 48.4% of voice assistants, Google Assistant (with 28.7% market share) has made it onto millions of Android devices, but the company still needs to educate users on its availability and capabilities. Surprisingly, Alexa has garnered a 10% share despite being available only on the Amazon shopping app for smartphones during the survey period.
- Desktop – Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are all available on desktop. You can download and install any of these on any desktop (except Siri…because…Apple).
- In your home – This is where the largest opportunity for marketers and business owners currently lies. People augment their everyday lives at home with information, media, and shopping through their smart speakers.
How Can You Optimize Your Website and Content for Voice Search?
1. Create content that answers questions. Most voice searches come in the form of a question. Before you create content, take time to understand what questions people might be asking and what their intentions might be. If you’re creating marketing content to compare different products, potential customers may use words like “best” or “difference” or “most popular”. But if you’re creating sales copy to convince a potential customer to take action, you might use words like “cost” or “buy”. In general, try starting with questions people might ask as starting points for creating copy.
Creating content like this will help you show up more in Google’s SERP feature snippets (learn more about the SERP and featured snippets here). More than 40% of voice search results were pulled from featured snippets. This makes sense as featured snippets are generally deemed the most relevant/helpful result for a question or query. If your content becomes the “answer” to a popular question, you’ll get a ton of traffic!
2. Focus on the Long Tail. If you’re not familiar, long tail in the context of search is a string of keywords (usually 3 or more words long) that is aiming at something specific. For example, “glow bowling in Chicago on Thursday nights” would have a much more focused search results than just “bowling”. Voice search queries are most often more than three words in length. This makes sense because voice searches happen in the moment, almost like a stream of consciousness. It’s natural for us to speak in complete sentences. In Contrast, typed searches are often 1-3 words.
As you create and optimize content, include long tail keyword phrases that address potential customers needs through different levels of intent (as mentioned above). Including a phrase like “Orange glow-in-the-dark bowling ball” is obviously much more specific than just “bowling ball”. When someone asks Alexa where they can get an orange glow-in-the-dark bowling ball nearby, you just may pop up! Speaking of nearby…
3. Think Local. Know your service area(s) and be sure to optimize your site for those. If your business has multiple locations, make sure you tell people, and tell them often! A good best practice is to include your locations in the website footer (if possible) so they appear on each page. Another important factor in location-based search is making sure your Google My Business listing is up to date. These are the listings that appear next to a Google map when a location-based search is conducted. Often when a search query is about a location, Google will display the top three local results with a map ABOVE ads and organic search results. Hard to beat that!
In general, a good way to think about optimizing your website for search is to BE HELPFUL. What are the “who, what, when, where, why, how?” questions relevant to your business? What do people need to know to take action? What might motivate them?