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With a computer at our fingertips, there is more information readily available with the touch of a button than ever before. This power allows us to ask any question we can think of to the goliath known as the Internet.

As technology users are increasingly on the go, more people are using voice search to find answers to their questions. A survey about the use of voice for searching released by Adobe found that 48% of consumers are now using voice search for general web queries, rather than using their mobile browser.

The penetration of voice search in the overall search engine market is growing larger all the time. As a result, learning how to optimize your site’s Voice Search SEO is the key to growing your traffic.

A Brief History

Voice Search SEO, or Voice Search Optimization is the optimization of keywords and phrases for queries searched by voice. Like traditional SEO, the goal is for your site to easily be found by those searching for what you’re offering. The main difference between regular SEO and Voice SEO is that content must reflect the way in which people speak.

Voice searching isn’t exactly new. Google first released the capability for voice-based web searching in 2002. However, in its infancy, the technology was less useful than it is today. The modern voice search assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana started to emerge around 2011. Google’s modern voice search function was released in 2012 and the technology has become more and more sophisticated since then.

The most revolutionary advancement in the Voice search SEO was the Hummingbird Update, released in 2016. This new technology accomplished three main goals:

1. The use of conversational search.

Search engines use natural language processing, meaning that they now think more about the way humans speak. This technology allows search engines to retrieve more accurate and specific results for the user.

2. Better search results by focusing on the user’s intention and not just literal words.

The Hummingbird update gave Google’s voice search a new type of artificial intelligence. This intelligence included synonyms and themes in its searches, based on users’ questions, but not limited to those exact words. Such newfound ability helps users find what they are looking for, even when it’s not exactly what they searched for.

3. Using location to aid in precision.

The Hummingbird release brought the idea of location into the context of the voice search. For example, if a person searched for “weather,” the technology assumed the user was looking for a local weather forecast.

Why is Voice Search So Popular?

Voice search’s surging popularity can be attributed to a variety of factors:

  • 85% of adults say that they use voice search because it’s the future of technology.
  • 76% say that it’s safer (perhaps while driving).
  • 63% say that it makes them more efficient
  • 63% also say voice searching is best for multi-tasking

While voice searching has not overtaken traditional text searches as the most popular method, its popularity continues to grow. A survey released by Adobe in July of 2019 found that consumers are using voice searches for 48% of their general web searches. “General web searches” is not the same as all web searches, but it still amounts to a large number of voice searches being performed on mobile devices each and every day. Meaning, if your website is not optimized for voice searching, you could be missing out on a large chunk of potential customers.

How To Optimize A Website For Voice Search

To optimize for Voice Search SEO, it’s important to know who your audience is. Let’s look at who the users are that are making these searches. Teens have always seemed to be the earliest adopters of new technology. Not surprisingly, 55% of teenagers are using voice search on a daily basis. That being said, teens aren’t the only ones using voice search. 

A quote from the VP of engineering on the Google Assistant.

Up to 41% of adults use voice search every day. Some of the top uses for voice search are: 

  • 52% of people say they use voice searches for getting directions while driving 
  • 51% of people say they use voice searches to place phone calls 
  • 50% of people say they use voice searches to send text. messages 
  • 49% of people say they use voice searches to check the weather 
  • 49% of people say they use voice searches to play music

Voice searching has become even more popular as virtual assistants and smart speakers become ubiquitous across American households. These devices were built for voice searching and help the user perform a voice search more easily. When it comes to the popularity of different devices, a 2019 report from Microsoft  that Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant share the top spot at 36% each. Then, 25% of voice assistant users have Amazon’s Alexa. And lastly, 19% use Microsoft’s own Cortana. 

With all of these devices being used more and more, it’s vital to make sure your content can be found by searchers who use voice instead of text to complete their queries. Voice Search Optimization is different than traditional Search Engine Optimization in some significant ways, so it’s important to ensure your website is optimized for both.

How to choose keywords for Voice SEO

When people conduct a voice search, they often ask a question. Some of the most popular voice searches start with words like “how,” “what,” and “best.” In order to get found through voice searches, you should try to write your content with natural language in mind. What questions will people ask when they are looking for the information on your site?  

This differs from typed content and typed search questions because people tend to be more conversational when doing a voice search compared to a text search. Over time, people have learned how to string together words and phrases to find what they’re looking for online. But, when it comes to voice searching, particularly when using a virtual assistant, people still sound a lot more human. 

Rather than typing in keywords like “auto detailer 86001” a voice searcher would probably ask “Where’s the closest auto detailer near me?” Thus, adding in more conversational phrases will help your content be discovered in voice searches, compared with spattering keywords like traditional text-based searches and SEO. 

Here are some more specific tips on How To Optimize for Voice Search SEO: 

Go Local: Voice searchers are often on their smartphones and driving or multitasking. This leads them to use voice search for driving directions and to find businesses nearby that they are hoping to visit. In fact, 58% of people use voice search to find local business information like hours and location. This means incorporating local details in your website can increase your Voice Search SEO rankings in the search results.

Stay Local

58% of people use voice search to find local business information. Users typically ask their smartphones for directions to a local business, hours of operation, or help finding a business that meets their immediate needs. 

Incorporating local aspects on your site, for example, noting nearby landmarks or well-known neighborhoods, and using “near me” in your title-tags, meta descriptions, internal links, and anchor text can increase your Voice Search SEO rankings.

Fast Loading Speeds

It’s no secret that humans are driven by instant gratification now more than ever. This means people are more likely to click away from a slowly loading page and more likely to remain on a page that loads quickly. This is why voice search result pages that rank high load, on average, 52% faster than pages that don’t.

Keep Your Business Listings Up To Date
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Since a large portion of voice searches are conducted by people who are trying to find out where to go for a specific need, you can rise up the rankings by keeping your business listings up to date. This means your business listing on pages like Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and others. Make sure your hours and location are correct and respond to reviews to gain higher search rankings. 

Studies show that the number of consumers using voice search is on the rise. As virtual assistants become smarter and more human-like, their popularity rises and it only become more important to make sure your business, website, and content can be found by them. 

Without adapting your brand to improve your Voice Search SEO, you are reducing the chances of driving more traffic to your website. Luckily, voice search optimization is not difficult once you know what to do. Use these tips to make your website stand out in voice searches. And, if you need help, you can always hire a professional to ensure your website is Voice Search SEO friendly.