Voice search has become a go-to for today’s consumers. In fact, two in five adults use voice search at least once daily. It provides users the freedom to browse the web, search for information, play music, and shop online – all without scrolling through results pages on screens.

It’s a more dynamic search that’s made even easier due to the influx of voice devices and assistants available to consumers. Whether it’s Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana, these devices all use voice search capabilities, and it’s transforming the way consumers conduct searches.

In fact, by 2020, half of all online searches will be made through voice search. Due to this rise, marketers need to optimize for voice searches in order to reach audiences online and get a leg up on the competition.

By optimizing for voice searches, your content will be easily consumed by the rising number of voice search users, keeping your brand at the forefront of digital. But optimizing for this new type of search is no easy feat. Here’s what to do:

Converse Through Content

Keyword phrases that are typed into search queries are much different than those spoken through voice search. For example, when searching for the weather outside, one might type “weather right now” into Google’s query. But, if someone were to voice search the same information, one might say, “Siri, could you tell me what the weather is like outside?” Voice search is much more conversational and natural, while Google searches are shorter and concentrated. In fact, the average speech search consists of seven or more words, while text searches are confined to one to three words.

Due to this shift in search language, your content needs to adapt. Voice searches are naturally-flowing long-tail keywords. In fact, Google Data shows that 70% of all searches on the Google Assistant are in natural language. This makes sense, because in conversation, people don’t talk in stiff, short keywords – instead they talk in longer phrases that form fuller sentences.

To adjust to this format, think about how your audiences talk about your brand, and the keywords they’ll use when speaking to their voice assistants. Once you uncover this, build these keywords into your long-tail keywords. By including natural, conversational keyword phrases throughout your content, search engines will start picking up on your content in search results that matches the user’s inquiry.

Smart speaker in a home setting

 

Focus on What’s Local

Printed Yellow Pages have become a thing of the past. Consumers are now accustomed to typing a quick “nearby” “near me” or “local” into their search engines to find local restaurants, stores, and businesses. And now that voice search is on the rise, the same words are popping up in these searches. In fact, 22% of voice search queries are looking for location-based content. This makes sense, since most people are using their smartphones on-the-go, with their devices in-hand.

When searching for an open ice cream shop, one might type “ice cream nearby” into Google’s query. But, if someone were to voice search the same information, one might say, “Siri, could you find an ice cream shop that’s open near me?”

Considering 50% of local mobile searches by a consumer lead to a store visit in a day, it’s essential that you’re matching your keywords to their local searches. Claim your Google My Business listing and include your city’s name in multiple long-tail keywords, with URLs and meta descriptions enclosing your location information. By focusing on what’s near you and your user, you’ll capture them during every local search.

Screenshot of Boston Interactive's Google Business page

 

Build a Featured Snippet

Google’s “featured snippets” appear at the top of search results pages with an easy-to-read, high-level content summary. Otherwise known as “answer boxes” or “position 0,” these snippets include shortened answers to search questions, with a link to the corresponding website. They’re becoming more and more prevalent during every search. In fact, Moz’s two-year study shows there’s been an increase in the number of words in a query that surfaces a featured snippet.

To effectively build a featured snippet, research keywords that match your brand and fit your user’s searches. You can leverage Google’s Keyword Planner to identify these keywords – just be sure to select ones with low competition and high search volumes. Then, you can tie in your question-based keywords and long-tail keywords to formulate a high-level, concise summary of your information. Search Engine Journal’s Quick Start Guide dives into everything you need to know about featured snippets, along with opportunities to explore, and bonus tips to keep in mind moving forward. 

With 80% of voice search results coming from featured snippets, it’s essential to optimize them to boost your website’s exposure during a voice search. With featured snippets, you’ll grab the attention of search engines and provide users with the information they’re looking for.

Screenshot of featured snippet in Google

 

Conclusion

The way users conduct a voice search is much different than how they perform an online search. This means it’s crucial to adapt your SEO strategy to this change to keep up with the digital landscape. By conversing through content, focusing on what’s local, and building featured snippets, your content will stand out to search engines during every voice search – helping your brand shine in speech.