An Overview Of Voice Search and Content Optimization
By Tom Seest
How to Optimize Content for Voice Search and Better Serp Rankings
For years, website owners have rushed to stay on the topic with the changes evolving in SEO (search engine optimization). With every update that Google releases to their search algorithms, they devour articles on the topic, trying to get or keep their sites ranked high in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
But there are many who are failing in one particular area that is not only soaring as a current trend but turning into the new normal; voice search. Voice search is something that you, as a niche marketer, need to embrace so that your content isn’t buried against site owners who are paying attention to the needs of those using this method to find information.
Below, you’ll get an education in what voice search is and how you can strategically set your site and content up for success so that whenever someone uses this method, the result told to them is one from your domain.
This photo was taken by Tima Miroshnichenko and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-orange-shirt-and-brown-pants-singing-4988143/.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Voice Search and How Is It Being Used?
- What Is Needed Before Content is Used For Voice Results
- How Voice Search Results Are Delivered Based on How People Talk
- How to Create FAQ and Q&A Posts to Help Voice Searchers
- How the Length of Content Affects Voice Search
- How to Leverage Featured Snippet Positions With Voice Search
- How to Use Video to Deliver to Voice Search Users
What Is Voice Search and How Is It Being Used?
For years, marketers have banked on the fact that users were logging onto their computers, visiting Google, and typing in broad or long-tail keyword phrases to find the information they were looking for.
They were so certain this would be the only method of search that they built entire websites around this SEO strategy. But then smart technology took root, giving consumers a new media format to search with ‘ their voice.
This audible instruction is often tailored in a very different way than typical typing. When someone types something into a search engine, they often use one or a few words, such as keto diet.
But using their voice, the search is usually posed in the form of a question. They’re asking a smart personality like Siri or Alexa a question they want the answer to. These technologies then use databases to find the information and deliver it.
So a consumer might say, ‘Hey Siri, what is the keto diet?’ Siri technology would search for the answer, so if your page content is structured with that full question keyword sentence and optimized for it, it has a chance of being the answer (or in the list of results) that Siri delivers.
People use voice search on a variety of gadgets. These include their smartphones, smart speakers, and even the speakers in their cars if they have a more modern vehicle.
Different technologies reside on different gadgets. For example, Siri can be found on iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches and Apple TVs. It offers a hands-free way of searching, too ‘ so if someone is multitasking or driving, they can search with ease.
Not everyone uses the same one, either. Some prefer Siri, while others use Google Assistant and Alexa. Microsoft also used to offer Cortana, but they eventually discontinued its support of it.
Some people refuse to have a smart speaker in their homes, such as Alexa, but they have a smartphone, which can achieve the same goal. So you want to be able to cater to everyone using different brands with this capability.
The beauty of these virtual voice search tools is that they use natural language processing to grasp what it is you want to know and provide the answers in a casual, conversational manner.
Not only is it a convenient way for people to search for information if they’re busy doing something else, but it’s very helpful for people who have a disability or who may have mobility issues where they aren’t right beside their gadget within reach.
Not only are individual consumers using voice search, but companies and corporations have integrated it into their business world. It shows up in retail, hospitality, and even medical industries (to name a few).
This photo was taken by Pavel Danilyuk and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-girl-reading-a-sheet-music-while-singing-7521360/.
What Is Needed Before Content is Used For Voice Results
Before you start thinking that you can bypass all traditional SEO in favor of a sole VSO (voice search optimization), you have to understand that all of the basic SEO still applies.
You still have to make sure that your site loads quickly, for example. This is very important for both SEO and VSO. Google is very blunt about the fact that this is a factor their algorithm uses for determining rankings.
Loading under two seconds is ideal. The faster, the better. Every second counts and people will bounce from your site if load time takes 3-4 or more seconds. Make sure you optimize and compress any images on your site so that the file size is smaller.
Try not to use redirects that lengthen the time between the consumer searching and your content ultimately showing up on their page. You can also use a cache plugin to speed up load times for the page.
The second thing you want to do is make sure your site is mobile-friendly. If you’re using a WordPress theme, check to see how it looks on a variety of browsers and gadgets, not just your personal preference.
You’ll want to check the font size you’re using and see how easy it is to click on any buttons on your site. Google has a mobile-friendly test tool you can use here to see if your site is in working order for mobile devices: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly.
You might find that it tells you your Viewport is not set. This means the page isn’t adaptive to different screen dimensions, where it automatically scales up or down depending on the gadget the person is using.
Other SEO factors that will ultimately help you with getting chosen for voice search results are things like using schema markup to help bots understand the content on your site, using strategic keywords and helpful content, and more.
This photo was taken by Yan Krukau and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-white-shirt-singing-on-stage-in-front-of-people-9009602/.
How Voice Search Results Are Delivered Based on How People Talk
The great thing about priming your content for voice search results is that you can easily understand how people look for information because it’s the same way you talk. It’s conversational and casual, using long-tail questions.
This natural language query is a bit longer than a 2-3 word phrase, and you can tailor your content for these and increase your chances of being one of if not the only result Siri, Alexa, or other voice search tools deliver.
You want to immerse yourself in the research of how people are asking questions about your niche topic. You might start by brainstorming a list of questions using the starter words: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
For the keto diet query, it might look like this:
* Who is the keto diet best for?
* What can I eat on the keto diet?
* When should I stop using the keto diet?
* Where can I buy keto-friendly fast food?
* Why do some people get keto flu?
* How can I create a keto meal plan?
You can also add other words like can and does, anything that typically starts off a question. You can go to Google and begin typing it in and see the answers. If you type in “can keto,” it will show you what people want to know:
* Can keto cause diabetes
* Can keto cause kidney stones
* Can keto lower cholesterol?
Notice that with voice search, many people don’t use the word you; they use I instead. If you need more help finding questions, there are tools that can deliver them for you. People Also Ask is one, and it’s built right into the Google SERPs.
For example, if you type in the phrase: survival food, it will tell you that people also ask:
* What are the top 10 survival foods?
* What foods should I stockpile for survival?
* What foods will be in short supply in 2023?
You can keep clicking on some of the answers to have more questions pop up and use these to create clusters of information in your content that voice search tools will see as authoritative, comprehensive content.
You can also use a free tool called Answer the Public. Enter 1-2 words for your search query, and it will deliver the questions people are asking. If you type in dog grooming, for example, 75 questions appear, such as:
* Can dog grooming cause ear infections?
* Which dog grooming clippers are the best?
* Why dog grooming is important
If you want to be comprehensive with your question research, you can also use forums, Reddit, and Quora (to name a few) to do some lurking and see what (and how) people are asking questions about your niche topic.
This photo was taken by Karolina Grabowska and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-woman-holding-a-megaphone-8107287/.
How to Create FAQ and Q&A Posts to Help Voice Searchers
There are two types of identical pages you might want to include in your online content, or these can be sections within content pages. They are frequently asked questions or questions and answers.
They basically do the same thing; pose a question and deliver an answer to it. You want to cluster these together so that the bots can recognize the nature of this content and deliver it to their users.
With a FAQ or Q&A section or page, you’re often addressing the often-asked questions, and this can be broad (such as, ‘What is the keto diet?’) to narrow (such as, ‘can a keto diet help lower my blood pressure?’).
Gather the questions and make sure you’re not duplicating anything in the list. You might want to then organize them from the most commonly asked questions to the lesser-commonly asked questions or from broad to narrow subject matter.
Your answers should be up-to-date. If you run the risk of something not being evergreen, then you want to periodically check back and freshen up the page. For example, you wouldn’t want to have Squidoo listed as a social networking platform when it’s already defunct.
Make sure that for both SEO purposes and for the benefit of your human visitors, you’re using H1 tags, H2 tags, etc. This helps people skim down to the question they want. You may even want to use a table of contents that is hyperlinked for quicker navigation.
Make sure you add to the page or section whenever there’s a new, relevant question to add that requires an answer from you. Updating your content is beneficial in securing better rankings.
This photo was taken by George Milton and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/positive-woman-telling-story-while-recording-podcast-microphone-6953680/.
How the Length of Content Affects Voice Search
If you’ve ever asked a voice search engine a question, you will have noticed that the replies are not 1,500-word responses but quick, punchy and brief sentences ‘ usually no more than a couple of sentences or about 45 words max.
It might also depend on what the consumer is searching for. If they ask for a recipe, for example, then the result may list off the ingredients and then all of the cooking instructions.
Now you also want to make sure your content is comprehensive, such as creating a pillar blog post ‘ and those are typically longer pieces. You don’t want to fill your site with short content.
So the area where you shorten it is in each paragraph, not the content as a whole. For example, if you’re creating a numbered list, a frequently asked questions or questions and answers listing, you would present the questions or numbered steps, followed by a short paragraph for each – as opposed to 400 words each.
This photo was taken by George Milton and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/trendy-diverse-women-recording-podcast-with-microphone-6953682/.
How to Leverage Featured Snippet Positions With Voice Search
By being concise and strategic with your H1, and H2 tags, you not only increase your chances of securing a voice search result listing, but you also improve the odds of being chosen for a Featured Snippet.
This is an area known as position zero. These are sections below the paid ads and above the organic search results on Google, where it’s usually some sort of numbered list followed by a brief partial answer or explanation.
The listing will then showcase the title, URL, and meta description of the listing so that people who want to know more can follow the link and gather more information about their search query.
Many experts believe the Featured Snippets are often chosen for voice search results, so if you can achieve this type of ranking, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone in terms of SEO benefits.
This photo was taken by George Milton and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/trendy-young-black-woman-recording-audio-with-microphone-in-studio-6953866/.
How to Use Video to Deliver to Voice Search Users
Text results aren’t the only media format people are looking for ‘ or being discovered by voice search engines. Video can be used, too. You can tap into this strategy by starting with the inclusion of closed captions within your videos.
This helps both hearing-impaired visitors and search bots know what your content is about. You may also want to include transcripts of your video. You can do this yourself or use automated tools to write it.
YouTube caters to people who want to search for videos using voice search. So make sure you’re optimizing your video listing to make it easy for people to find you on YouTube, which is the second largest search engine next to Google.
Voice search may not be used 100% of the time by everyone, but it’s rising in use and becoming more common for people to speak out their requests than have to be tied to a gadget, typing and watching for an answer to their question.
This photo was taken by George Milton and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/happy-young-black-woman-singing-during-radio-program-6953877/.