Voice Search: What is it and why is it important?

What is voice search?

Voice search is the technology that allows people to do web searches using voice recognition instead of typing keywords on their browser. In most cases, it returns the results orally to the user. Programs that use such technology are Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana and Alexa.

How is voice search SEO different from traditional SEO?

Traditional SEO is built for short tail search terms that people might type in on their phone or computer. voice searches will likely involve a more conversational type of keyword which will make it more of a long tail type search term. You can’t do away with traditional SEO tactics, but you will need to optimise for Voice SEO. The key is to find a balance between the 2 types.

Target Featured Snippets

A featured snippet is also known as position zero, answer box or quick answers. Google selects what it thinks is the most relevant answer to the user and displays is as a summary just under the Google Ads and just above the organic search results.

You have probably heard about ‘Above the fold’ content. This is the area a person sees on your website before they need to scroll to see more. Google detects your ‘above the fold’ content as your most important and relevant content. This is the content that Google will determine as relevant enough to be in position zero or not. Since the average voice search result is about 29 words long, you need to include a summary of your page, containing your SEO keywords, in about 29 words in the ‘above the fold’ content. Using H-tags, lists and bullet points will make it easier for Google to determine the relevancy of your content.

Write in a conversation tone

Think about the way people speak in comparison to the way people type in a search term in the browser. They sound similar but voice search is longer and more conversational.

For example, in a browser, they may search,

“top courier companies”.

But using voice search, they may say,

“Who are the top courier companies in the world”.

Make sure your content is easy to read. Studies show that only 5% of users will read the content and 37% will jump through the headings and read something under a heading that interests them. Majority of users, 58%, will only scan the text to get a basic idea of what it is that you are saying. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to understand quickly what your page is about.

How to help users scan your content?

  • Include a lot of white space around your text and between your paragraphs
  • Make the font big enough for people to read easily
  • Choose simple words that can be read and understood quickly
  • Use headings, remember to use H-tags in your headings to boost SEO
  • Under each heading, break your content into smaller paragraphs
  • Use subheadings if you have a significant amount of content under each heading
  • Use lists or bullet points to break instructions into content that is easier to read

Optimise your content for local searches

If you are a location-based company like a car wash, hairdresser, laundromat, grocery store, etc, then this applies specifically to you. It is imperative that you include your contact information, like your phone number and address, on your website in an easily accessible place. For example, in the footer area, on a contact page, or even both.

If a user types in their location like,

“accountants in Johannesburg”,

if you have listed your address on your website as Johannesburg and your website clearly indicated you are an account, then you will rank higher in the search page results.

Recently people have been doing more searches that end in,

“- near me”

When they do this, Google looks at the Google My Business listings first before it looks at websites. For this reason, it’s a good idea to claim your business on Google My Business as soon as possible. Google will utilize the user’s location and then display search results on a map of their current location.

Make sure your website loads quickly

Usually, people use voice searches on their phone when they are out and about. They are probably in a rush to get where they need to be. Your website loading speed could be the difference whether you make a sale or not. Studies have shown that a user is 90% more likely to take an interest in your website if it loads in 3 seconds vs 5 seconds.

People in general have shorter attention spans and have very little patience when waiting for something to load. They would rather exit the slow website and try another website that might load faster. To get an in-depth look at the optimization of your website as a whole, go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights

How to make your website easier to use?

  • Most important – It needs to be mobile friendly
  • Make sure your website is responsive to different screen sizes
  • Optimse your images for web
  • Compress your files