Optimizing your website for voice search presents a huge opportunity.
You increase your chances of reaching potential customers who use their voice assistants to find information.
This article offers a deep dive into voice search optimization, including six actionable tips to help improve your voice search rankings.
Let’s start with the basics.
What Is Voice Search Optimization?
Voice search optimization is the process of improving your online presence so you appear for voice search queries.
The primary goal is to get selected by and/or read aloud by voice assistants when users perform a voice search.
Those digital assistants include Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa.
Users can also perform voice searches on search engines like Google using desktop devices. But those results are still displayed the same way as they are for text-based searches.
Voice search isn’t the same as traditional text-based search. Because there’s a slight difference in how we phrase our queries.
For instance, if you’re looking for an Italian restaurant in your neighborhood, you’re likely to type “italian restaurants near me” into a search engine.
But you’re more likely to phrase a voice search query like this: “Hey, Siri, can you find an Italian restaurant nearby?”
We talk to our voice assistants as if we’re talking to real people.
So, voice search queries are usually more conversational, longer, and formulated as full sentences or questions.
These are the types of queries that you need to optimize for to get chosen by voice assistants.
The Importance of Voice Search Optimization for SEO
Optimizing for voice search helps you reach more people than optimizing for text-based searches alone.
Research from Statista shows that the number of people using digital voice assistants is expected to continue growing.
Many people use them for routine tasks like setting alarms or playing music. But people also use digital assistants to find information.
To increase the chances of appearing for voice search queries, you need to implement tactics that’ll also benefit your overall SEO. Like prioritizing how fast your website loads, targeting voice search keywords in your content, and making sure your website works well on mobile devices.
Benefits of Voice Search Optimization
Improving your online presence for voice search extends the benefits of traditional SEO. To help you achieve business goals.
More specifically, voice search optimization can help:
- Increase how many voice search results you appear for: Having your content shared by voice assistants increases brand awareness, especially at the local level
- Build trust with your target audience: Providing helpful and valuable information through voice search positions your business as authoritative and trustworthy
- Improve the user experience: Making changes to optimize for voice search involves improving technical SEO elements—which lead to a better user experience.
Now that we know more about voice search optimization, let’s go over how to optimize for voice search.
6 Tactics to Improve Your Voice Search Optimization
Here are some voice search optimization tactics you can implement:
1. Research Keywords for Voice Search
Researching (and targeting) keywords specifically for voice search can help improve the chances of your content being served to users using their voice assistants for answers.
When researching keywords for voice search, it’s a good idea to focus on:
- Long-tail keywords: These are highly specific queries that often have lower search volumes. An example of a long-tail keyword is “ways to edit a pdf.”
- Question keywords: These are keywords that begin with question words like “how,” “what,” “why,” “when,” and “where.” An example of a question keyword is “how to edit a PDF.”
- Conversational keywords: These are keywords that mimic natural conversation and reflect how people speak when using voice search. An example of a conversational keyword is “how do i edit a pdf.”
While each of these keyword categories is distinct, they often overlap and can even embody characteristics of one another.
For instance, many question keywords are long-tail keywords. And many long-tail keywords are conversational.
So, how do you find good keywords for voice search?
The Keyword Magic Tool.
To get started, head to the tool and enter a seed keyword (a broad search term related to your business or a specific topic).
Then, select a country and click “Search.”
Next, you’ll see a list of related keywords along with their respective search intent (the reason behind a searcher's query), monthly search volume, Keyword Difficulty (a metric out of 100 that conveys how difficult it is to rank in the top 10 traditional search results for a given keyword), and more.
A great way to find long-tail keywords is by selecting the “Questions” filter. This will present a list of question keywords you can target for voice search.
Another great way to find long-tail keywords is by using the Keyword Difficulty filter (shown in the tool as “KD %”).
Long-tail keywords often have a low difficulty score (but not always). So, it’s a good idea to set the keyword difficulty as “Easy” or “Very Easy.” Like this:
You can also add good keyword options to a keyword list.
To do that, check the box next to the keywords you want to add to the list. Then, click “+ Add to keyword list.”
You can then create a new list or add to an existing one.
You can also export this list as a CSV, XLSX or CSV Semicolon file from Keyword Manager.
Note: The information on keywords in Keyword Magic Tool isn’t specific to voice search. But it can still give you an indication of the terms people are likely to search for using voice assistants.
Google’s autocomplete function can also help you discover keywords for voice search.
The terms Google suggests can give you ideas for keywords you may want to target.
The next step is to analyze search results for these keywords.
2. Analyze Search Results for Keywords You Want to Target
Look into what’s already appearing on the search engine results pages (SERPs)—the pages with relevant results that search engines show to users after they enter a query. To gain an understanding of what types of content are likely to appear.
And pay special attention to SERP features.
SERP features are additional elements on a SERP that add something new to a search result beyond the standard blue links.
They look like this:
Why do SERP features matter?
Because a voice search study conducted in 2019 found that 70% of all answers returned from voice search occupied a SERP feature.
Some common SERP features on Google are:
- Featured snippets: Featured snippets are short snippets of text that display a preview of a page’s content to provide users with quick answers to their queries
- People also ask: People also ask blocks offer users a set of questions related to their search queries and quick answers to these questions
- Local pack: A local pack shows the top business listings and a map for location-specific keywords (like “top restaurants in new york” or “best bakeries near me”)
- Rich snippets: Rich snippets, also called rich results, display additional information like ratings or reviews. Here’s an example of a rich snippet:
Note: Different voice assistants rely on different search engines for information (Amazon’s Alexa uses Bing, Apple’s Siri uses Google, etc.). So, it’s helpful to analyze SERPs from multiple search engines for your queries.
Analyzing SERP features can help you create content that aligns with search engines’ preferences. And increases your chances of winning those SERP features.
You can use our SERP analysis feature in Keyword Overview to study SERP features for different keywords across different geographic locations.
For example, let’s see what the SERP looks like for the keyword “how to edit a pdf” in London.
Open the tool, enter the keyword, select the location, and click “Search.”
Then, scroll down to the SERP analysis section.
You can see which results have SERP features based on the symbols below the blue text.
3. Audit & Optimize Your Website Content
Before you start working on new content, conduct a content audit. To identify opportunities to optimize existing content for keywords you want to target in voice search.
A content audit is the process of systematically analyzing and assessing all the content on your website.
So, suppose you already have a blog post on your website titled “How to Edit a PDF.”
In that case, you don’t need to write another post that targets different but related keywords like “how do i edit a pdf” or “ways to edit a pdf.”
Instead, you can optimize your existing blog post to include those keywords.
To conduct a content audit, you can use ImpactHero, an AI-powered tool that breaks down your content by customer journey stages. It identifies your most impactful content pieces and provides recommendations.
To get started, head to the tool and click “Create campaign” to set up your campaign.
You’ll then need to add a tracking code to your website.
Once ImpactHero starts collecting data for your website (it takes about a day), you can start analyzing your existing content.
Under the “Explorer” tab, find the “Content” section.
Here, you can see all your website content along with information about how each piece is performing.
You can also filter specific content pieces based on URL, title, length, content type, and tags.
When analyzing your content, look for opportunities to optimize it for the voice search keywords you’ve identified.
Here are a few best practices:
- Use natural language: Match the conversational nature of voice search queries by using natural language. To align your content with the phrasing of voice search queries and increase the chances of being shared by voice assistants.
- Incorporate keywords naturally: Add voice search keywords in your headers and body content in ways that feel natural
- Write concise answers: Provide information in a clear and succinct manner to increase the chances of winning SERP features
- Add frequently asked questions (FAQs) sections: Create an FAQ section at the bottom of website pages if there isn’t an opportunity to naturally incorporate your voice search keywords elsewhere
- Use schema markup: Implement schema markup (a structured data vocabulary that helps search engines better understand the information on your website) to provide search engines with more context and increase the chances of winning SERP features and being served in voice search results
4. Improve Your Site’s Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the process of optimizing a website to make it more accessible, crawlable, and indexable by search engines.
Improving your website’s technical SEO involves focusing on your website’s user experience.
This can indirectly impact your search engine rankings and increase the chances of winning SERP features. Which may make your content more likely to be read aloud by voice assistants.
To optimize your website for voice search, it’s a good idea to focus on the following technical SEO elements:
- Page speed: Page speed, also called load speed, measures how fast the content on a webpage loads. Search engines want to prioritize websites that provide a good user experience, and page speed is one aspect of that.
- Mobile SEO: Mobile SEO is the process of optimizing your website for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Since many voice search users talk to voice assistants on their mobile devices, it’s important to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.
- Responsive design: Responsive design is an approach to web design that ensures a website adapts and responds to different screen sizes and devices, ensuring a good user experience across all devices. And Google recommends using a responsive design for your site.
- Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTP): HTTPS is an encrypted version of HTTP that improves security for your website visitors. And HTTPS has been a ranking factor since 2014.
You can start improving your technical SEO using Site Audit.
To get started, open the tool. And click “+ Create project” to create a new project.
Enter your domain and a project name (optional). And click “Create project.”
Follow the instructions to configure your project according to your needs.
Then, click “Start Site Audit.”
Once it’s done, the tool will provide you with valuable insights and recommendations to optimize your website.
Go to the “Issues” tab to see a list of items you’ll want to address. Start with “Errors” (the most critical issues), which are listed at the top of the table.
For any issue, you can click “Why and how to fix” to learn more about the problem and how you can address it.
5. Practice Local SEO
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your online presence to increase local traffic, visibility, and brand awareness.
Why is this relevant for voice search?
Because voice assistants often rely on local directories like Google Business Profile, Yelp, and Bing Places to provide answers for local queries.
Here are a few local SEO tips you can implement:
- Optimize your Google Business Profile: Google Business Profile is a free tool that lets you influence how your local business appears for Google Search, Google Shopping, and Google Maps. Google Assistant relies on Google Business Profile for information on local voice queries. So, creating and optimizing your profile increases the chances of your local business being shared in answers from Google Assistant.
- Leverage other local directories: Local directories (other than Google Business Profile) are websites that list businesses and their relevant information based on their geographical location. Although Google Assistant fetches local business information from Google Business Profile, that’s not the case with Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri. To make sure your local business is shared by different voice assistants, it’s important to leverage different local directories.
- Target local keywords: Local keywords are words or phrases people use to find businesses, products and services in their areas. By targeting local keywords, you can increase the chances of your business ranking in local packs. To improve the odds of your business appearing for local voice search queries.
Listing Management can help check and manage your local listings.
To get started, open the Listing Management tool, add your local business name, phone number, or website. And click the search icon.
This tool will scan the internet for your business presence. And provide valuable insights and recommendations.
Scroll to “Fix These To Improve And Expand Your Coverage” to see which listings contain errors.
You can then export this list and make those changes manually. But if you have a paid plan, you can use the tool to automatically distribute your information to different directories.
6. Continuously Monitor Your Performance
Keep track of your search engine rankings and SERP features for the keywords you’re targeting. To stay competitive, increase your odds of appearing in voice search results, and identify opportunities for optimization.
You can use Position Tracking to monitor your daily rankings and SERP features for a custom set of target keywords. And you can even analyze your positions across different geographic locations and device types.
To get started, open the tool and click “+ Create Project.”
Then, enter your domain and click “Create project.”
Configure your targeting and then click “Continue To Keywords.”
Configure your position tracking campaign by setting your preferred:
- Search engine
- Keywords to be tracked
Then, click “Start Tracking.”
You’ll then have access to valuable insights and reports. To monitor and optimize your website's rankings and appearance in SERP features.
Go to the “Overview” tab for an in-depth look at your rankings. You can also see which keywords you have SERP features for by looking for icons representing SERP features in the two “Position” columns.
Continue Auditing & Improving Your Website for Voice Search Optimization
Optimizing your online presence for voice search shouldn’t be a one-time thing.
It should be a continuous process.
Regularly auditing and optimizing your website will help you adapt to changing search trends, monitor your efforts, and stay competitive in SERPs. To increase the chances of your business appearing for a wide range of relevant voice search queries.
Our suite of tools can make the process easier and more impactful.
So, sign up for a free trial today.