How to Rank Your Website on Voice Search

young woman holding phone for voice search

In 2020 every SEO strategy should be focused on voice results equally as much as type searches.

This might sound like a bold statement but take into account that 48% of consumers use voice search before you decide that it is an optional extra.

Can your business afford to underperform in almost 50% of search results?

We didn’t think so.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand and optimize your website for SEO voice results. 

What’s Voice Search?

Voice search allows the user to verbally ask a question to a voice-enabled device instead of typing it into a search engine. 

This was a step towards providing a better user experience for Google users. The aim was to do a better job of addressing the real need behind a search and to steer websites away from keyword stuffing tactics.  

In 2013 Google launched an overhaul of their core algorithms called Google Hummingbird. This was partly a response to the rise in voice search and how differently users searched with their voice compared to text.

This meant that marketers needed to refocus their content to be contextual for the user instead of Google’s keyword crawlers.

The Difference Between Text and Voice Search

There are a number of differences in the way that users search with voice search compared to typing a search query. The first step in optimizing your website for voice results is to understand what these differences are.

Conversational Vs Direct Phrasing 

The most obvious difference is that typing takes more effort than talking. As a result, users tend to abbreviate their typed search terms, whereas a voice search usually contains more words and is more casual.

For example, if I conduct a search for pet shops I might type that as “pet shops near me”, but I might voice search for that by saying “show me where the closest pet shop to me is?”.

This is partly because speaking happens spontaneously while typing gives us time to think about how we are going to ask a question. As a result voice searches usually contain more long-tail keywords than a typed search.

Question-Based Search

Voice search is also more commonly question based beginning with phrases containing what, who, how, when, or where.

This means that users don’t often use voice search to pull up content they are familiar with. Voice search is primarily a tool for finding practical answers.

When Do People Use Voice over Typed Search?

Voice search is most often used to find local businesses and to find more information about a business the user already knows of. Nearly 60% of voice search comes from mobile which makes it a popular option for searching on the go.

Another reason users take advantage of voice search is because of the rise in using multiple devices at once. It’s easier to verbally ask a question to your phone while browsing on a laptop than it is to text search on both devices at once. 

How Does Google Handle Voice Search?

Voice-enabled devices allow you to speak your search into your device. The search app then translates the spoken words into text to conduct the search. So Google will search for the spoken words the same way it does with text.

Not all voice-enabled devices default to google for voice search. Amazon and Microsoft both default to the Bing search engine, which means that searches on these devices will produce different results to iPhone’s that default to Google.

How to Optimize for Voice Results

So how can you use this information to optimize your website for voice search? As with any kind of marketing, the trick is to learn as much about your customers and how they think as you can.

Ask Questions The Way Your Customers Do

Think about the questions your audience is asking about your business and the way they would ask them when talking to each other. This will give you more realistic key phrases to work into your keyword targeting. 

User intent is key to understanding why people use certain phrases in their search. For example, a phrase beginning with “what” isn’t as likely to be followed by action as a phrase that starts with “where”. Take these examples in the context of the user’s intent.

“What is the fashion this summer?” is a general query that won’t likely result in action.

“Where is the nearest shoe shop to me?” shows a much more focused intention towards action from the user.

Once you have an idea of how your customers are speaking in voice search you should choose to optimize for the most value-driven phrases.


Optimize for Your Local Area

People use voice search to find local services three times more with voice search than with text. You can use this to your advantage when it comes to your website design and content. 

Creating content that highlights you as a local business will help search engines to link you to queries within your local area. 

Create a Business Listing and Keep it Updated

Voice search is easier than text search and users are looking for quick and easy answers. As a result, they will avoid clicking through to your website if they can. 

This is why it’s so important to have a business listing with Google. It allows the searcher to get all of the relevant information about you within the Google SERP without the need to click through to your site.

Moving Forward

It’s no secret that digital marketing is constantly being disrupted with the pace that technology evolves. Being optimized for voice results is all about staying ahead of the SEO game. 

Voice search isn’t as different to type searching as it might initially sound, the best approach is to focus on your customer’s needs and adapt your keywords to the way search is evolving.

Our team of professionals can help you with your website marketing project. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Spread the word.