“Okay Google: How do I optimize my site for voice search?” If you’re reading this out loud, your Android phone may have started googling that for you.
When it comes to content marketing and SEO, we are entering the age of voice search. Whether it’s Apple’s Siri, Google Home Voice Search, Amazon’s Alexa, or other voice recognition search tools, more and more search users are using their voice rather than their fingers.
Google predicts that more than half of queries will be conducted by voice by 2020. Your business has worked hard refining SEO and content marketing strategies to do well in organic SERPs for typed searches. I know you don’t want to lose your edge as users shift to voice searches. So here are four tips for optimizing your site for voice search and protecting your organic SERPs for the future.
Optimize Your Local Listings
A driver picks up her phone, presses and holds a button, and asks Siri for dinner options nearby. You could appear in her organic SERPs if you’re what she’s looking for and you’ve properly set up your Google My Business listings.
Voice search often happens on the go, making it important to have your local listings optimized. When a search user uses voice phrases like “near me” and “nearby” the service knows to compare the user’s physical address with the address and category data of matching businesses. Search Engine Land has a great primer to get you started.
Optimize for Long-Tail Keywords
When people use Amazon’s Alexa voice search system, they speak as though they’re talking to a person, who just happens to be named Alexa. Searches are more like conversations. This leads to an opportunity for your business to make the most of long-tail keywords.
Typing searchers tend to keep things short, but voice searches are more verbose. Try thinking about how voice searchers might find you. Answer the Public is a nice tool to get you started. A primary search term can be joined with prepositions and whole clauses describing a unique search intent.
Even better, if you already have customers finding you through voice search, consider taking a look through your Search Console query report. While Google doesn’t yet separate out voice searches, you may be able to identify these queries by look alone. If you notice a pattern, consider refining your keyword strategy further in that direction.
Improve Your Microdata Markup
Voice search users expect their Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and Android assistants to grasp complex meanings that might go unstated in a search query. For example: Imagine if a bat sanctuary started ranking in searches for used baseball equipment or vice-versa. Or imagine that you were able to rank higher in search because your microdata markup allowed Google to return a rich snippet of your content for search users.
Various microdata markup tools can help webmasters and developers add contextualized labels so that search users find what they’re looking for and businesses rank for their intended categories. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool and Schema.org’s complete hierarchy of microdata objects can help.
Optimize for Mobile
Mobile-friendliness is an important consideration in today’s SEO world in general, but it’s even more important for voice search. While there are some voice searches on home-based devices, many searches are conducted on the go.
Your business should also consider the look and usability of your site on mobile. Responsive web design is a smart website must-have if your customers visit your site on mobile.
Try out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool and the MobileTest.me tool to see how search engines and users on mobile will experience your site. If you find issues, make sure to fix them — mobile bounce rates are almost 10% higher than desktop bounce rates.
With the right tweaks, you could really boost your voice search performance. You may even attract a whole new customer base that loves to talk.