I have been working with a small business in Plymouth during January overhauling their web content. One of the key challenges we faced was convincing the business owner they had to optimize their website and web content for voice search as well as ‘normal’ search. It isn’t the first time we have found ourselves in this situation so I thought it was time to write about it.
Voice is gradually taking over typed search and at some point in the near future will be much more common than typing. The increase in smartphone use, the rise of digital assistants and voice-enabled devices means it is becoming much easier to talk to our gadgets than to type into them. So what does this mean for your SEO?
It means, not only do you have to take into account all the other trends in SEO like longtail keywords and page speed but you also now have to take into account how someone would ask for what you offer rather than how they would type the query in.
Ever since the Google Hummingbird update, the search giant has been gradually implementing voice search into its systems. Hummingbird elevated semantic search to a whole new level and caused quite a few problems for SEOs and website owners. The intent was to make search more natural and reflect the language people use when discussing search terms rather than static queries.
This paved the way for voice search. It was just in time too. With Amazon Echo being such a massive hit and competing digital assistants nipping at its heels, voice-enabled devices have exploded. This demands that voice search is improved across the board.
So how can you optimise your website for voice?
SEO for voice search
There are a couple of things you need to do to prepare your website for voice search. Fortunately, if you’re a Coastal Content client, much of the work is already done for you. We specialise in paving the way for small businesses to grow and move on to a fuller SEO service. We provide the groundwork at an accessible price, ideal for startups or small businesses to get things moving.
For SEO for voice search, you need:
- Web content written in a conversational tone
- To consider user intent with every page
- To use structured markup
- To use longtail keywords
- To claim your Google My Business listing
- To include local in your SEO
Web content written in a conversational tone
Typed search queries are usually short because they require minimal effort. Typing can be a chore, especially on a phone so queries are typically as short as possible. Voice queries are longer and will use conversational tone. If your website content is written in conversational tone, it should perform well in voice search.
Coastal Content writes everything conversationally. The stock scene I used to describe it is two people sitting in a café discussing your company, product or given subject. The page is then constructed much like that conversation would be. That approach will work very well in voice search.
Consider user intent with every page
Some websites out there concentrate so much on filling the page will keywords that they forget why someone would visit their page in the first place. User intent should be at the centre of every web page and should be at the heart of all website content. This will also work well with voice search as it will address the voice query.
Again, if you’re a Coastal Content client, your pages will already be written with user intent at their heart. It’s a key tenet of website copywriting and something we do all the time.
Use structured markup
Structured markup, or structured data has been around a while and most websites have implemented it. I must admit to not knowing a huge amount about it but the guys over at Moz do. I tend to go to them whenever I need to learn something new, as I did with this.
Google also has a useful Structured Data Markup Helper you can use too.
Use longtail keywords
Using longtail keywords is nothing new, especially in high competition niches. They also feed in nicely to conversational tone. You can use a mixture of short and longtail keywords within a conversation much more naturally than you can with more formulaic web content. Longtail keywords compete well with typed searches because they more accurately reflect what you’re searching for.
For example, a typed search for web content would be something like ‘web content in England’ or ‘web copywriter’. Simple and easy to type. A voice search and longtail keywords would be more like, ‘website copywriter with experience in computer websites’ or ‘web content writer based in Plymouth’. Combining both naturally into your web content is going to work for everyone, including the search engines.
Claim your Google My Business listing
Claiming your Google My Business listing should be one of the first things you do when you launch your venture. You want to begin appearing in local searches even while you’re putting your website together and begin spreading the word in your area. You also want to reserve the business name, set the address and begin building a web presence and a little hype.
Google My Business is also used for local searches. If your business is brick and mortar store or something where local matters, you’re going to want to do that right away.
Include local in your SEO
Local has been a part of SEO for years and has always been important. With the increased use of voice it becomes even more so. That should always include the ‘near me’ option. Typed queries would usually be something like ‘coffee shop in Plymouth’, a deliberate search for something. A voice search is much more likely to be more like ‘coffee shops near me’. That’s especially true if it’s a phone voice search.
You don’t type ‘near me’ into your web content of course. Google will use your Google My Business listing to ensure you appear in that search. That’s why it’s so important to claim your Google My Business listing and write with local search in mind.
Preparing your web content for voice search shouldn’t take all that much effort as long as you’re writing with your audience in mind and in a conversational tone. There are a few extra considerations in keyword composition but otherwise voice search will use what is already there.