Voice Search Optimization: Tips and Best Practices for Local Businesses
From smartphone search queries to questions asked of in-home digital assistants, voice search already owns a significant share of total online search volume. In the years to come, that share will only increase, with some experts estimating that voice search will surpass text-based search volume within the next few years.
Given this tidal shift in how consumers conduct online searches, local businesses need to prioritize voice search optimization as part of their larger SEO strategy. Businesses that optimize for voice search can dramatically increase their organic search visibility to relevant audiences, increasing website visibility and brand trust. Research suggests that 58 percent of mobile device owners use voice search to seek out local businesses at least occasionally, demonstrating how voice search can be particularly beneficial to local businesses.
Unfamiliar with voice search or how to take steps to optimize for this search traffic? Read on for some of our recommended best practices.
Emphasize Conversational Language and Long-Tail Keywords
The language of search queries is much different via voice search than through traditional, text-based search. While text-based search tends to be more keyword-heavy, voice search is more conversational and similar to our natural speech patterns.
For this reason, voice search optimization should consider how voice search users are likely to phrase their questions. In many cases, this means using longer search queries and long-tail keywords, as well as more informal language, in many cases.
If you’re an HVAC service, for example, consider how a customer might call you to describe a problem with their air conditioning unit, and write content that features this language and directly addresses this query. This conversational approach will improve your voice search prominence while also making your brand seem more approachable and user-friendly.
Optimize Your Website for Rich Answers
Rich answers are an increasingly common search result delivered by Google when online users perform a specific type of query. These rich answers gain prime placement in search results because of the succinct, relevant information they offer search users, which delivers a better user experience.
In voice search, rich answers comprise a significant share of voice search results, which means this type of content should be a cornerstone of any voice search optimization strategy. Some of the most effective ways to optimize for rich answers include the following:
- Use your website to answer common questions asked by your customers. Whether through static web pages, blog posts or a variety of website content, simple answers to these questions are more likely to be selected and featured as a rich answer by Google.
- Create clear title and header tags to organize your website information. These titles and headers are used by Google to determine whether your web content is relevant to the search query being addressed.
- Use schema markup to make your content more readable to search engines. Schema markups will also increase the likelihood of having your web content used in Featured Snippets, which is one of the most common types of rich answers used in voice search.
Revise FAQs to Add Schema and Improve Clarity
As you optimize for rich answers, a Frequently Asked Questions page can become one of your best tools for achieving high organic search visibility. Whether you’re creating a FAQ page from scratch updating an existing one, make sure all common questions are addressed succinctly and with clarity.
This page should also incorporate schema markup for the FAQ answers. If online users conduct an online search that is similar to one of the questions featured on your website, your schema and rich answer optimization will increase the likelihood of getting your web content featured as the top search result.
Improve Page Load Time
The longer your website takes to load, the more likely it is that a search referral will bounce before taking the time to view your web content. Mobile web pages have a tendency to load even slower than desktop versions, in large part because many businesses don’t place an emphasis on optimizing for mobile web traffic.
Since the vast majority of voice search traffic is coming from mobile devices, though, it’s even more important to minimize page load times through mobile website optimization. Simple steps to optimize for mobile include the following:
- Use a website design that features responsive design for any type of device.
- Compress images to reduce loading time.
- Simplify website navigation.
- Reduce or eliminate web page redirects.
- Turn on browser caching to streamline future page reloads.
You can also use online mobile optimization tools to evaluate your mobile website and identify opportunities to improve web performance.
Keep Your Google Business Profile Up-To-Date
Your Google Business profile features important information that may help your business rank first in voice search results. A consumer conducting a voice search for a local 24-hour fitness gym, for example, will likely be served in search results with listings for nearby gyms offering 24-hour access. By keeping this listing information up-to-date, you make it easier for consumers to find your business—and you make it easier for Google to refer new customers through organic voice search results.
The earlier your business adapts its website and its SEO practices to account for voice search traffic, the easier and less resource-intensive this transition will be. A digital advertising partner can help you audit your existing website, optimize your digital presence for voice search, and implement voice search-friendly changes to all of your future content.
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