Do you remember the bold projection that by 2020, 84% of internet traffic would be video? Here’s a more recent prediction gaining the headlines: half of all internet searches will be voice searches by 2020.
Yes, it’s true that video continues to trend upward for devices with screens, but screens aren’t the only dominating force of the internet right now. Here’s one evolving stat we’re following closely: 65% of Americans aged between 25 and 49 perform voice searches on their devices daily. That’s not a prediction. That’s present-day data.
We talk to our phones. We talk to devices in our homes like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. We talk to our smart watches. Talking can be easier. It’s hands-free and allows us to multi-task away from the screens that are so ubiquitous in our lives. When answers are delivered in audio, it arguably fits more naturally into the conversational flow of human life.
But how do you optimize your website so that voice search results bring people directly to you?
Here’s what you need to know:
- Focus on “Featured Snippets” – Remember that voice search rankings can vary from search rankings delivered on your desktop computer, and this difference and the fact that many websites haven’t yet optimized for voice search is your opportunity to stand out. Google devices from Android phones to Google Home Hubs answer voice search queries by reading the “featured snippet” of the top ranked website, and this “featured snippet” comes from structured data (i.e., code formatted in a way to get the attention of search engines for this purpose). Your web development team can help you with this, or there are many plugins available that can allow for easy creation and management of these featured snippets for every webpage you create. How you add this structured data is up to you, but if have a dream of hearing Siri quoting an answer from your website, this essential piece is part of the process.
- Focus on Questions and Natural Language – When we type queries into search engines, not even the English teachers among us use complete sentences. Doing so would feel a bit silly. We use phrases like “web development near me,” “best local pizza,” or “funny cat video.” But when we speak, our language is more natural. Instead of short phrases and jumpy fragments, we’re more likely to say, “Who does web development near me?”; “Where’s the best local pizza”; or “Show me a funny cat video.” Thus, when you’re thinking of SEO for voice search, think about the exact language someone might use when they’re looking for what you provide. Then integrate that precise language into your SEO-focused content strategy.
- Focus on Popular Voice-search Terms – Over 80% of voice searches begin with the word “how.” Words like “best,” “easy,” “free,” “list,” and “good,” are other standard choices. There is a time for powerful language and a diverse vocabulary, but when it comes to voice-search, think of the most commonly used words. What do you say when you do a voice search for something? Whatever it is, there’s a good chance you could replicate your own word choices to empower your website’s SEO—acknowledging, of course, that “keyword stuffing” or inserting too much of a word or phrase beyond natural levels for the sake of SEO, will still red flag you, so be thoughtful, as always.
- Focus on Local SEO – Think about how frequently people search for answers to a problem that your business can solve. Whether you’re a restaurant, a shop, a community service, or otherwise, local search results matter. Why? Because 76% of smart speaker owners perform local searches at least on a weekly basis. And these are local searchers primed to take action. Be sure that you optimize your website so your business will be what’s discovered. That means mentioning the name of your city or service areas, your neighborhood, or even local landmarks or other businesses around you. Organically prove that you’re trusted and appreciated locally, and your rank in local search results will improve.
61% of those between 24 and 64 say that they plan on using more voice-enabled search in the future. By 2022, it’s projected that 55% of American households will own at least one smart speaker device. Voice commerce is poised to be the next big disruption in retail. Whatever voice search statistic you’d like to examine, this is not a trend you should ignore.
In its infancy still, voice search has a lot of potential. How is your business going to take advantage of this moment?