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How to optimise for voice search in 2018

4-MINUTE READ 10th October 2018

In Q1 of 2018, 10% of Brits owned a smart speaker, and this had doubled from 5% in Q3 of 2017, according to research from YouGov. The report also studied how owners use their devices and found that 58% use them to answer general questions, which is what brands, digital marketers, and SEOs need to pay special attention to. As demand for these virtual assistants grows, the use of voice search will, too. And, if you want to stay ahead of the game, you should look at optimising your content with this in mind.

How does voice search differ from desktop and mobile?

The main way voice search differs from desktop and mobile is that voice queries tend to have a more conversational tone. When typing on our phones or computers, we’ll typically use short phrases, because it requires less time and effort. But this isn’t much of a concern for people using smart speakers.

For example, when performing a search on a computer, you might Google “Robert Downey Junior age”, but you’d be more likely to ask Google Assistant or Google Home “How old is Robert Downey Junior?” out loud. This is something you need to consider when optimising your content for voice search.

Additionally, there are some things most voice search results tend to have in common. For example, Backlinko has found these similarities:

  • The average voice search results page loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than the average page)
  • 4% of Google Home result pages are secured with HTTPS
  • The typical voice search result is 29 words in length
  • Around 75% of voice search results rank in the top 3 on desktop
  • 7% of all voice search answers come from Featured Snippets

How can you optimise your content for voice search?

Now that you know how voice search differs from more traditional forms, we’re going to give you some practical tips that will help to give you the best chance of benefiting from the growing popularity of smart speakers.

Use structured data markup

Applying the correct schema to your website’s content will help to give voice search devices more information about your site and the information on it.

If you aren’t familiar, structured data (AKA schema markup) is a form of HTML that you can embed into your website’s code to help search engines to discover your content more easily. It can also be a great step in optimising your copy for voice search, because schema markup gives smart speakers a better understanding of your content and its context.

To learn more about implementing structured data in your work, we would recommend heading over to schema.org, where you’ll find a range of tags or microdata that can be added to your HTML code to provide additional information about your web pages. As a result, search engines should understand your site’s content much better, and will find it easier to recommend your business to the right people.

Claim your Google My Business listing

As we explained in our guide to getting the most out of your Google My Business listing, it’s important that you claim your listing, because it allows you to manage your online presence across Google platforms including Maps and Search. You can even use it to interact with people who take an interest in your company. Claiming your Google My Business listing can also make you more visible to voice searchers.

Through your listing, you can confirm what kind of business you have, as well as provide information such as your address, phone number, and opening times. Because Google will source your company’s information from your My Business listing whenever relevant, keeping everything up to date will ensure that potential customers are always given the correct information.

Target conversational keywords

When dealing with voice search, you want to target ‘long-tail+’ keywords. The plus sign refers to the conversational phrases you’ll need to add when optimising your content for spoken queries.

Once you decide to factor voice search into your SEO strategy, you must put more effort into including conversational keywords to mimic how real people ask questions out loud. Consider what kinds of questions customers ask when they call your business and start documenting the exact words they use. As you develop a list of questions and statements that you hear from your customers quite regularly, you can start to create content that features these longer, more conversational search terms.

Voice search isn’t on its way: it’s here now, and it’s important that you’re making changes to your SEO strategy to account for it. By taking the tips we’ve outlined here on board, you should find that more people discover your business through their smart speakers.

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