Ryan Henry President & Founder

10 Voice Search SEO Tips to Boost Your Site’s Rankings & Organic Traffic

Search engines have evolved since their early days of the 1990s. No longer are users forced to type their query into a search box. Thanks to voice search, users can now speak their search queries into their computer's or device's microphone. For webmasters and online business owners, the advent of voice search technology signals new traffic opportunities. If you're looking to capitalize on the rising growth of voice search and attract more traffic to your website, you should consider these search engine optimization (SEO) tips.

What Is Voice Search?

Voice search refers to the use of speech recognition software to perform an online search. Rather than typing your search query into a search engine like Google.com, you speak it into your device's microphone. The device's speech recognition software will analyze your voice to determine the word or words for which you searched, after which it reveals the appropriate results for that search query.

Voice search has become increasingly popular in recent years. According to a report published by Google, 44 percent of all adults perform an online search using their voice at least twice a day. By 2020, Google predicts voice search will account for more than half of all online searches.

1) Target Long-Tail Keywords

To increase your website's chances of appearing at the top of the results for voice searches, you should target long-tail keywords. In other words, optimize your site with the goal of ranking high for search queries consisting of three or more words. Known as long-tail keywords, they often receive higher search volume among voice search users than short-tail keywords. With voice search, users aren't required to type their query, so they'll perform more extensive searches.

2) Target Question Keywords

In addition to long-tail keywords, you should target questions to optimize your website for voice search. Voice search users are more likely to format their query as a question than text search users. Whether it's Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortona or Amazon Alexa, one of the primary functions of a virtual assistant is to find answers to the user's questions by providing relevant search results.

To take advantage of this trend, create web pages around common questions asked by your website's target audience. These questions should begin with who, what, when, where or how, and they should include an in-depth and detailed answer. Don't just create a single page of frequently asked questions. Instead, create a separate page for each item that you want to target for voice search.

3) Make Website Mobile-Friendly

Millions of people perform voice searches using their mobile device. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 5 mobile searches are performed using voice. Android smartphones typically come with Google's pre-installed Voice Search app, whereas Apple iPhones come with the Cupertino company's Siri virtual assistant app. With the Voice Search app and Siri, mobile device users can perform voice searches on the go. If your website isn't compatible with smartphones and tablets, however, it probably won't rank high for these mobile voice searches.

4) Get Local

If your website is for a local business, you should optimize it for local search traffic. According to a study conducted by BrightLocal, 46 percent of voice search users search for local businesses at least once a day. If someone wants to visit yours but doesn't know where it is, they may search for it using their voice.

To optimize your website for local search traffic and boost your website's rankings for voice searches, publish your business's name, address and phone number (NAP) on every web page. If your site uses a theme or template, you can include your business's NAP in the footer or sidebar so that it automatically displays on every page. You also can create online listings on directories like Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Superpages, The Real Yellow Pages and Apple Maps.

5) Secure Website With HTTPS

You'll achieve higher rankings for traditional search results as well as voice search results by securing your website with Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). With search engines now emphasizing user privacy and security, webmasters can no longer afford to overlook HTTPS encryption. Updating your website with HTTPS helps protect visitors' data from hacking and theft by encrypting all incoming and outgoing traffic. As a result, search engines favor HTTPS websites over their HTTP counterparts in the search results.

6) Optimize for Featured Snippets

When performed on a device with a display -- a computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. -- voice searches typically display a page of relevant search results on the device's screen while the virtual assistant speaks an excerpt from the most relevant, highest ranking result. The same voice search performed on a voice-controlled smart speaker, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo, only responds with the spoken excerpt, which usually comes from websites ranking in Google's featured snippets.

Featured snippets are individual listings in Google that appear above all organic listings and below all paid ads. They are longer, more descriptive and typically answer a specific question related to a search query. If you're able to secure a ranking in Google's featured snippets, voice search users will likely see and hear your website on their device.

7) Encourage Visitor Discussions

Leverage the power of visitor discussions to increase your website's rankings for voice searches. Visitors offer a wealth of information that can enhance and improve your website's content. When visitors engage in discussions on your site, they'll create a questions-and-answers dialog that naturally targets voice-search queries. Enable visitor commenting on your website, and encourage visitors to share their thoughts and options.

8) Schema Markup

If a search engine can't understand the context of your website and what it's about, then the voice search apps powered by that search engine probably won't reveal your site in their results. You can help search engines better understand your website by using schema markup.

Available at Schema.org, this involves the use of structured data to provide search engines with additional information about the respective web page. If your website is for a restaurant, for example, you can use schema markup to tell search engines your restaurant's location, hours of operation, prices and other relevant information. There are hundreds of schema markup codes. Regardless of your website's purpose, you can enhance its search engine visibility for voice search using this markup language.

9) Build Backlinks

Building backlinks is an essential part of any SEO strategy, and voice search is no exception. Backlinks from relevant and trusted websites show Google that your site is popular enough that other places want to share it. Therefore, Google may give your website a higher ranking than other websites competing for the same keywords.

10) Promote Deals

Finally, create web pages on your site that promote deals. According to a report by Think With Google, 52 percent of voice search users search for deals, promotions, coupons and discounts. That makes sense considering that many people perform voice searches on mobile devices. And before buying a new product, a user may search for a coupon or discount using their mobile device's voice search app.

Voice search isn't a fading trend. On the contrary, it's become an increasingly popular method for finding websites and online information. You can piggyback on the rising popularity of voice search by optimizing your site using the 10 tips listed here.


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