Voice Search Optimization: Marketing For Real Communication

Voice Search Optimization: Marketing For Real Communication

Stay ahead in SEO by optimizing for voice search. Learn strategies for enhancing your content's visibility in voice queries.

Jul 7, 2023

Voice search is a user-friendly technology that has seamlessly integrated into smartphones and other connected devices. Think Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s Siri. It allows the user to communicate their search queries verbally to a virtual assistant and get search results on their device without the need for typing. This intuitive and convenient feature is rapidly gaining popularity, making it a crucial aspect of a comprehensive SEO strategy.

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The popularity of voice search-enabled devices has surged in recent years, presenting a golden opportunity for businesses to stay ahead of the curve.

According to a study by Insider Intelligence in 2020, 40% of all searches were done through voice, an 11% increase from the prior year. Adapting to this rising trend of voice search can give you a competitive edge.

US Voice Assistant Users and Penetration, 2018-2022

This guide will not only provide an overview of voice search, and its workings, but it will also equip you with the knowledge to leverage voice search in your paid search campaigns. It will offer quick tips on optimizing your website for voice search, leading to increased traffic and better user engagement.

In 2017, Google significantly updated its search algorithms with a major update called ‘Hummingbird.’ This change shifted the focus of natural language processing from lexical (word-based) to semantic (meaning-based), allowing search results to be more contextually relevant to the user’s query rather than just a collection of keywords.

How Does Voice Search Work?

Voice Search operates on speech recognition technology, which processes spoken queries. When a user speaks into a smart device, the voice recognition software interprets the speech, formulates search requests, uses algorithms to decipher the searcher’s intent, and returns relevant results. This sophisticated process is the backbone of voice search technology.

With the advancement of artificial intelligence and machine learning over the recent years, voice search has become increasingly more refined. It can recognize complex queries, allowing these smart devices to respond to user requests with great accuracy and speed.

Keyword Strategies for Voice Search

By incorporating suitable types of keywords into your search campaigns, you can ensure they are picked up by users completing voice searches. The keywords used in voice search campaigns are more natural language-based making them easy to understand and use in voice search In this section, we will discuss some of these practical keywords.

Growth in Question Phrases Year Over Year

Question-Based Keywords

A lot of queries for voice search are long-tailed and question-based in nature. That means they usually focus on the who, what, where, and when phrases. Users typically search for “Where can I buy X” or “What is X” phrases. Voice search queries are usually stated as a full statement, rather than typing in a few select phrases a computer.

Question Based Keywords Growth

Location-Based Keywords

Suppose your business has a physical location and wants to capitalize on voice search. In that case, it’s imperative that you also use keywords that are phrase-oriented and location-based in nature. Some examples of these would be “Best restaurants near me” or “Closest Gas Station” ; these would be used by searchers who are on the go and asking their search-enabled devices for advice at the same time.

Retroactively looking at your search terms report can be a great way to see if people are searching for your business using voice search-enabled devices. These terms will fit the above profile, whether question-based (e.g.’What is the best restaurant in town?’) or location-based (e.g.’Restaurants near me’).

You can also use that as an idea for what types of voice search-friendly keywords your user base can use and incorporate them into your voice search campaigns.

Voice Search Keywords and Intent

Like with all marketing campaigns, it’s crucial to consider the stage in the users journey when building out a voice search campaign. A voice search campaign refers to a set of strategies and tactics aimed at optimizing your content for voice search and improving your visibility in voice search results.

For those users just starting out, their search queries will usually start with queries starting with “who” or “what.””. This shows that they are in the awareness stage and seeking more information in general.

As they progress down the funnel, their queries will shift to use “when” or “where” to gather information about your business and its location along with other pertinent information.

By aligning your voice search strategies with the user’s intent, you can significantly enhance your campaign’s effectiveness and drive better results.

Writing Ad Copy for Voice Search

Ad Copy optimized for voice search involves using natural language and ensuring the ad copy is easy to understand. Ads should clearly answer the searcher’s question and provide them with the information they are looking for without the need for overly technical language.

It’s also essential for voice search to include the proper active extensions to ensure the ad has increased effectiveness. Since many searches take place on mobile devices, it’s important to keep in mind ad extensions that could be handy for a user searching on mobile.

Voice Search SEO Location Targeting

Since a most voice searches are for local packs, it’s important to have adequate location targeting set on your voice search ads. Search ad location should be specific to the area your physical location serves and if necessary, ad copy should disclose the areas you serve.

One extension you would want to pay particular attention to and make sure to include would be the call extension — especially if you are a business with a physical location that may be nearby, so that a searcher could easily reach out with any questions they may have.

It’s also important to have a location extension enabled if you have a physical location as well. This makes it easy for a high intent user to quickly tap the location of your business and navigate towards it. Even if you have your business listed in Google with a contact address, having the location extension allows seamless navigation for the user.

Strategies to Optimize for Voice Search

If you are going to run campaigns for voice search, it’s important to make sure your website is optimized accordingly as well to accommodate voice searches. A properly optimized website will lead to higher conversions.

Load time Optimization

Page loading speed is crucial for SEO and voice search. Most voice searches are done on mobile devices, so fast load times are essential. A study by Backlinko shows that voice search results have a faster Time to First Byte at 0.54 seconds, compared to the average website at 2.10 seconds. Voice search pages also load faster, taking only 4.6 seconds, 52% quicker than the average web page (8.8 seconds).

Average load time of voice search answers

Mobile-Friendly Design

Having a great mobile site layout is crucial for your website’s success in driving voice searchers to convert, especially since most voice searches are performed on mobile devices. To attract those users, make sure your mobile site is optimized for different display sizes and appears clear on various browsers and operating systems.

Local SEO

Since many voice searches are for local information, it can be beneficial to make sure your site has been optimized for local search if it has a physical location. It’s important to make sure that you have your business name, address and phone number up-to-date and that you have established a Google My Business listing.

If you really want to dive into local SEO, you can create local content and link them to social media backlinks which can help improve rankings by Google.

Content Optimization

Having content that tailors to voice search is also an important facet in improving your website’s optimization. While it doesn’t necessarily mean overhauling every piece of content on your site, you should make sure the content relevant to the voice search is conversational and provides concise answers to the search queries.

Google’s voice search results are typically limited to 30 characters, so try to include the most important information that would answer the searchers question in that limit. A great way to implement this is through FAQ pages, as they provide both the user’s query and a concise answer.

Final Thoughts

Voice search is an important and rapidly developing trend in digital marketing – businesses must understand how to optimize their online presence for voice search, even if they are not running any paid campaigns tailored to voice search results.

With the rapidly developing improvements in the capabilities of artificial intelligence and speech recognition software, it is likely that voice search will continue its trend of popularity. It will increase in adoption as the experience becomes even more user-friendly and the results become even more accurate.

If you need help refreshing your SEO strategy, our experts can help.

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Joe Sanders
Joe is a Growth Marketing Analyst at NoGood. His fascination with marketing began when he successfully grew and monetized a large-scale UGC Instagram page in the crowded automotive niche. His prior experiences include recruitment marketing, where he worked with some of the largest retail brands.


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