With the viral adoption of virtual personal-assistant software—such as Amazon's Alexa, Google's Google Assistant, Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana—voice search is exploding in popularity. Failing to optimize your business for it may significantly impact your site's performance online. By optimizing your business, your website and your content for voice search, you'll ensure that your brand stays relevant as virtual personal assistants begin to take the driver's seat in consumers' online interactions.
Read on to see what your brand should be doing to stay on top in the age of personal assistants.
"Semantic search" is a technique that search engines use to identify the context in which keywords are used. Say, for example, you asked a personal assistant the question, "Who was Steve Jobs?" Once you received the results from this search, you might ask the follow-up question, "Where was he from?" Using semantic search, the assistant would know that the "he" you were asking about was Steve Jobs and would then pull up information on from where Steve Jobs came. Semantic search is an answer to the evolving way that users search for content online. Prior to voice search, users would generally enter a string of keywords that pertained to the questions they were attempting to answer, such as "Steve Jobs hometown." With the advent of personal assistants, we have changed the way we ask questions and shifted the way that search engines attempt to answer them.
So, what does this mean for your site? It means that optimizing for individual keywords is no longer enough. From here on out, sites will need to include the exact questions and answers that individuals are searching for if they want a shot at being the top result and the answer to users' voice-search queries.
To optimize your site for voice search, you'll need to sprinkle questions and answers to common questions your potential customers have throughout your site. Some great places to get started are on your company's blog or in the "FAQ" section of your website. These two places provide an excellent environment for you to both ask and answer user questions. Write a blog about common problems in your industry, list the questions as headings and provide the answer immediately below. Sound familiar? Take a look at how this post is written. This question-and-answer structure will show Google's spiders that your blog has helpful information, which will boost your voice SEO. Looking for more help boosting your SEO? Check out our blog 4 Free SEO Tools You Should Give a Try.
A featured snippet is a block of information that appears as the top result when users ask certain questions of Google. Featured snippet blocks contain an answer to the user's question that has been extracted from a webpage. Each snippet also contains a link to the page and the title of the page. According to Backlinko, 40.7% of voice-search answers come from the featured snippet. This means that, if your site isn't optimized for specific questions that people might ask their personal assistants, you likely won't be chosen as the featured snippet—and your site won't be the one to provide the ultimate answer.
"Near me" searches are incredibly common on all types of social platforms. In a "near me" search, users simply search a certain type of service and then follow their search with the words "near me" (i.e., "restaurants near me"). To ensure that your business is appearing in these results, you'll want to completely fill out your Google My Business profile. This will help make you the top result for local searches and will ultimately drive more customers to your business.
Backlinko's voice SEO study revealed that the loading speed of a voice search results page was about twice as fast as the average webpage. This means that the speed at which your website loads has a significant bearing on how high your website ranks in voice searches. To see how fast your website loads, visit Google's PageSpeed Insights page, enter your URL and see how you stack up. In the report, Google will let you know what you can do to get faster loading times on your site, which will help you rank higher.
We have entered into a new era of online search, and failing to optimize your brand for voice search may leave you playing catch-up if you don't act soon. By heeding these recommendations and making your website and content personal-assistant-friendly, you'll increase the odds that you come out on top when it matters most. Need help preparing? We've got you covered. Drop us a line to see how we can help you prepare for the voice-search revolution.