4 Ways to Improve Your SEO for Voice Search
There was once a time, pre-internet, when sitting at home or in your car asking questions of no one was considered odd. Now it’s the next great iteration in internet search.
Echo and Google Home-style devices are trendy, and surging mobile use means more people want to ask questions, not type in search phrases, to find what they need.
But how, exactly, can you help your site get found in voice search results?
Here are four ways to improve your voice search rankings and make it easier for people to find your site.
1. Go Local If It’s Relevant to Your Business
Does your business serve a local or regional market? If so, it’s time to claim all your local business listings so that you appear in results like “find a garden center near me” or “where’s the nearest doggie daycare?”
Start with Google, Yelp, and Bing and then claim other listings like Yahoo, the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, or other platforms that are relevant to your type of business.
Not sure how to set up your Google My Business listing? This post walks you through the best practices for Google local-listing SEO.
2. Get to Know Natural-Language Queries
If you’re used to thinking in terms of keyword phrases (like “voice search optimization” and “Google voice search SEO”), it’s time to start asking questions (like “How can I optimize my site for voice search?” and “How does voice search affect SEO?”)
That’s because we don’t search with our voices the same way we search with text. Instead of typing in the most important words and hitting enter, we ask Siri or Alexa, “Where can I find the best burgers in Milwaukee?” or “Is there a dry cleaner near me?”
What that means for your site is that you need to include text that reads like natural language—the kinds of questions customers ask their phones or digital assistants. Not sure what those questions are? There are a few ways you can find out:
- Make notes on the questions customers ask you in person, on the phone, and via email.
- See what questions people ask about your type of business in forums and on social media.
- Use tools like Soovle to autocomplete questions you enter and show you what people are asking about in searches. For example, type in “how do you cook brisket” and you’ll see results like “how do you cook brisket on a grill” and “can you overcook brisket,” sorted by popularity on different platforms including Google, YouTube, Bing, and more.
3. Use Natural Language Queries on Your Site
When you see commonly searched questions that are related to your business, try to work them into your site’s headlines, subheadings, and text. This aligns your content better with what potential customers are looking for, and it can also give your site a more conversational tone, which most people find appealing.
Just don’t go overboard with the questions. Remember the days when sites would try to game search results by dumping repetitive keyword phrases into their pages so that their copy read like it was written by a robot? You want to keep the questions and answers on your site natural sounding and relevant.
Another way to fine tune how your site appears in results is to stay focused on long-tail keywords, which is another way of saying “be specific.” In a market with 15 businesses providing children’s party entertainment, including “children’s party entertainment” on your site may not even land you on the first page of local search results. But if out of those 15 businesses, only two provide hula mini-lessons for the kids, including “hula lessons for kids’ parties” is more effective because it’s more specific—it helps people find exactly what they want.
4. Post Videos That Answer Questions Your Visitors Ask
There’s another type of content you can use with natural language queries: videos.
YouTube videos can perform better than text-only web pages in Google search results, according to Michael Peggs at MarketingProfs. If there are questions that lead people to your website, make a few videos to answer them. For example, if you sell something like Acme barbecue pits, you can create videos that answer questions like “How do I put together my new Acme barbecue pit?” and “What’s the best way to smoke brisket in an Acme barbecue pit?”
Making short explainer videos takes some work, but it’s not as big of a production as you might think. Each video needs four to five elements: a script, a voiceover, visuals, some editing, and maybe music. KISSmetrics has a great tutorial on putting together an explainer video on a tiny budget, with details about what should be in your script, how to record a voiceover that sounds professional, and how to source your visuals—something that can be as simple as doodles you’ve scanned into your editing program.
If you create videos, you’ll want to get the most search results mileage from them. Remember to:
- Title your video as a search question using natural language and the keywords that lead to your site.
- Use schema markup on your video if you embed it on your site.
- End each video with a call to action that directs viewers to your business.
Keep each video brief. There’s a raft of data out there showing that two minutes is more than long enough for most viewers. And by keeping each one short, you can free up time to make more videos that answer different search questions for your target market.
Voice Search Is Always Evolving
As you implement each of these strategies, remember that the goal is to help customers find your business. When you land new customers, ask them how they found you and you’ll get a sense of which voice search strategies are working well for you and which you can refine more. And keep an eye on search trends, because the one sure thing about them is that they’ll keep evolving as the way we use technology changes.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.