Google, Siri, Alexa. All are well-known voice search devices that have gained popularity in recent years. But that doesn’t mean that all websites are optimised for voice searches.
In 2013 Google launched the Hummingbird update, which changed the way searches worked. The focus shifted to semantic searches that improved accuracy by understanding the contextual meaning of the search terms and trying to understand user intent. In essence, it made searches smarter.
It was this update that was the start of effective voice searches.
Between 2008 and 2016, the number of voice searches increased sevenfold, with the real increase starting in 2013. These days voice commands can be used for anything from dictating a text to hands-free calling, checking the time, helping with homework, and so much more.
When you start to look at the statistics around voice searches, the results are incredible.
- 65% of adults aged 25-49 speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once every day.
- 30% of web browsing sessions were screenless in 2020.
- By 2022 voice shopping is expected to be worth around $40 billion.
It’s an area that’s been growing in popularity over the past decade, but recent developments in AI and algorithms have improved the experience so much that it’s becoming part of our daily lives.
As a business owner, you can’t ignore the impact voice search is having, and you need to take urgent steps now to embed it into your marketing strategies to ensure you don’t get left behind.
Why do you need a voice search strategy?
We’ve seen how influential voice searches can be, which is why you need to make sure that you’ve got a plan, a strategy for how you’re going to approach voice search optimisation.
Without a strategy, there’s a chance that voice search will fall off your radar or that it will be done in pieces. To be successful, you need a targeted, formulaic approach. Still on the fence about voice search? Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t be:
- The fundamentals of voice searching focus on making it easy for your customer to find the information they’re looking for. By doing that, you’ll improve their experience and build a relationship with them.
- It’s likely that if a user finds the result from their voice search, they’ll follow it up by visiting that website, allowing you to increase the number of visitors you receive.
- If your business website isn’t optimised for voice searches, your audience will find and use your competitors instead.
How to optimise your website for voice search
Your website will be at the heart of your strategy. But how do you optimise your website for voice searches? Here are our top recommendations:
Use long-tail keywords
Voice searching is based on long-tail keywords. Instead of a typed search which might be “hairdresser Wolverhampton”, it might be “what hairdressers are in Wolverhampton?” Your website needs to not only use the question but provide an easy to digest answer. It’s key that your website reflects this, though make sure they’re being used naturally and conversationally rather than being shoehorned in.
Claim your Google My Business listing
Check that you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing. This little slice of real estate allows you to enter your location, opening hours and other key information that Google can use to find the right information for your customers. Voice searches tend to be focused on local searches, so making sure that you’re utilising all opportunities to let Google know where you are will help you.
Make the most of Google Ads and local searches
If you’re running ad campaigns through Google, then make sure you’ve enabled your location extension. Local Search Ads can be a useful tool to drive more traffic to your site and highlight your location. These ads appear above organic search results on Google Maps.
Adopt a conversational tone
Over recent years there’s been a move away from formal language on a website and across marketing in general to a more conversational tone. This is fundamental when optimising your website for voice searches. Voice searches tend to be more informal, and the language is often as though you were talking to a friend. That means for the search terms to match your site’s keywords, they need to reflect that tone. The content on your website also needs to provide direct, succinct answers to those queries.
Include a FAQ section
An FAQ section is an easy way to make sure you’re hitting those key questions and giving the answers. This can also be beneficial to on-page visitors as it helps them find the crucial information easily, improving your overall customer experience.
It’s not just voice searches that are increasing in popularity. The number of searches carried out on mobiles is increasing too, particularly local searches. We have our mobiles with us when we’re out and about, so use them if we need directions or are looking for a specific location. With the focus on local when using voice search, we need to think about designing sites for mobiles first, optimising “near me” searches to create a solid foundation.
Improve the speed of your site
This might seem an odd one to include as we’re talking about voice searches, but it’s significant. Voice searchers want quick results; they don’t want to wait for your site to load. If your website takes too long to load because of uncompressed images or unnecessary plugins, Google won’t look at your site for answers.
Check the speed of your site with Yell’s free website performance report.
Voice searching is changing the way users interact with your website and the content your site needs to appear high up in the rankings. It’s not a passing trend that will disappear in six months or a year. That’s why you need to get serious about it now. Voice searching might seem like a new beast that you need to understand, but it’s really about understanding your users, what they’re searching for and making sure your website delivers.
Start by creating a voice search strategy and implementing some of the tactics we’ve mentioned. Not only will it help position you for voice searches, but your site should become more user friendly and SEO-optimised as a result. The danger if you don’t is that you’ll get left behind.
Did you know that when you get a listing on Yell.com, your business details will also be shared with Amazon on Alexa voice search devices? This is completely free, so make sure that your business has a Yell.com listing and that the information on it is as complete as possible to give you the best chance of being discovered in relevant Alexa search results. This includes consumer reviews, opening hours, images, contact details and other business information, all of which help your business stand out over your competitors.