Zehnder Communications, Inc.

Unlocking the Power of Voice Search: Why Optimizing Your Website is Essential

Once upon a time, the idea of asking an AI assistant for vacation recommendations was science fiction fantasy.

But now, it’s our everyday reality. Despite how common it’s become, most marketers overlook the power of voice search for SEO.

So how did we get here?

From smartphones to smart appliances and everything in between, voice search is now faster (and more convenient) than ever. And it all started with Audrey, a midcentury machine that could recognize spoken digits.

Thanks to early innovators like Bell Labs, speech recognition software continued to evolve throughout the century, culminating in the release of Google Voice Search and Siri in the early 2010s.

The technology has continued to evolve rapidly. The future of voice search will only become more integral to our daily lives as machine learning and AI technology progress. If your business isn’t focusing on voice search marketing, you could be missing out on valuable customers.

Falling behind? Read on to learn how to make content convenient for modern consumers by optimizing your websites for voice search.

Understanding voice search

Voice search isn’t a fad – it’s the new normal. After all, who wants to spend time typing in a question when you can just ask your smartphone? But what is voice search?

Voice search uses technologies like speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) to interpret and respond to user queries. When a user speaks into a device (like a smartphone or smart speaker), the voice command is transformed into a digital signal. That signal is analyzed and matched to the most relevant search result.

How does voice search technology differ from traditional text search? First, voice search gives users quicker results than text-based searches on desktop or mobile. This makes it more convenient and accessible, elevating the voice search user experience.

Another key differentiator that is particularly relevant to marketers is voice search’s conversational question style. Voice search goes beyond long-tail keywords into full-blown questions that sound almost as if you’re talking to a friend.

If, for example, you’re looking for a nearby beach spot, you might ask Siri “What are some popular beach vacation spots near me?” But if you’re looking for the same information via text search, you’d probably keep it simple with a phrase like “beach near me.”

While both examples include the relevant information needed to process the request, voice search input is far more descriptive. And when it comes to ranking for voice search queries, it’s all about the way you structure your content.

This evolving technology will become even more sophisticated as natural language processing and generative AI intertwine. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on voice search trends. Google, for example, is currently beta-testing a new generative AI feature on Google Maps that uses natural language processing. With this feature, users can input queries like “places with a family-friendly vibe in South Walton” and the AI model will return a curated combination of restaurants, shops, and more based on Google Maps results.

What is voice search optimization? Why does it matter?

No matter your industry, voice search is one of the most effective ways to capture organic search traffic. And with millions of consumers using voice search to purchase products, optimizing your website is more important than ever.

According to NPR, 62% of Americans use voice assistants to answer their queries. And thanks to the rising popularity of virtual assistants and smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod, voice search is becoming even more integral to our daily routines.

Think about it – whether you’re cooking dinner or repairing a leaky faucet, the hands-free accessibility of voice search makes daily tasks easier. From researching cooking times to locating nearby hardware stores, voice search allows customers to access information in seconds.

With 50% of consumers using voice search platforms every day, it’s no wonder that savvy marketers are looking for ways to rank for voice search queries. How do you tap into that traffic?

Benefits of optimizing for voice search

If you’re new to voice based search, you’re probably wondering how to optimize your website for voice search.

By optimizing content for voice search and virtual assistants, you can tap into a new market of users who depend on smart devices for discovery. Here are just a few of the benefits of voice search optimization strategies:

1. Improved user experience and satisfaction

Speed. Accessibility. Accuracy. All these factors influence user experience, and voice search delivers better results by personalizing responses based on context and user preferences.

Voice search also allows users to access information or finish tasks without lifting a finger, preventing accidents while driving, cooking, or multitasking. This hands-free convenience also makes voice search accessible for disabled people who have difficulties inputting text-based queries. And because speaking is faster than typing, voice search delivers results faster for everyone.


2. Enhances your SEO performance

Voice search isn’t just one of the best ways to capture organic search traffic, it can also boost your overall SEO and ranking.

Search engines favor sites that optimize for voice search, which can in turn give your site more authority. This results in better positioning on results pages, with the best sites snagging the coveted voice search result spot. And because most voice searches are “near me” questions, voice search local is especially important for small businesses. According to one study, 46% of voice search users look for local listings daily, using this feature to make reservations, research prices, and find product or service information.


3. Competitive advantage in the digital landscape

Every customer has questions they need answered. And nothing beats the convenience of a smart device.

Optimizing for voice search can help you embrace new technology and stand out among competitors, improving your online visibility and user engagement. And by aligning your content with voice search keywords and queries, you can capture potential customers from the growing body of voice search users.

How to optimize your website for voice search

In today’s digital landscape, traditional SEO strategies are not sufficient. Instead of relying on dated tactics like keyword stuffing, distinguish your business as an industry leader and reach a larger audience with data-driven tactics.

Wondering how to optimize for voice search? Here are a few simple SEO strategies to optimize for voice search:

1. Focus on natural language and conversational tone

Voice searches are more conversational than text-based ones. That means you should create content that sounds like natural speech and aligns with real customer queries.

One easy way to create a conversational feel is to incorporate pronouns in blog posts, such as “I” or “you.” Additionally, dial back the jargon and steer clear of highly technical language.

However, this laid-back approach isn’t an excuse to create low-quality content. A casual writing style should provide value yet feel accessible to the average person.


2. Create FAQ pages and optimize for question-based queries

Wondering how to rank for voice search? It’s all about leveraging long-tail keywords and including complete questions on your site. However, stuffing your blogs with dozens of questions and answers feels awkward. That’s where FAQ pages come in.

A frequently asked questions section allows you to list common voice search questions and provide an answer. This Q&A format is also a great way to compete for the coveted Google featured snippet.

Displayed at the top of the Google results page, these snippets are pulled from high-ranking web pages. And more often than not, virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa read these featured snippets as answers to voice search queries. This means better visibility and a major traffic boost for your page.


3. Target local SEO

Local SEO improves search engine rankings for local businesses, targeting customers in the area who are more likely to shop at these brick-and-mortar stores. But it’s also a proven method to boost your voice search local rankings.

The most crucial step to improving your local SEO? Optimizing your Google My Business profile. Google My Business is an online listing that displays your location, hours, contact information, directions, reviews, and more, driving web traffic and foot traffic.

According to one study, users are 70% more likely to visit a business and 50% more likely to purchase from businesses after seeing their Google My Business profile. And because a significant portion of voice searches are location-specific, building out your profile and aligning it with search queries increases the chance of ranking in voice-based search results.


4. Implement structured data markup for search engines

Structured data markup is like adding special tags to your website's code. These tags give search engines more detailed information about your business, such as hours, addresses, contact info, pricing, reviews, and more.

Although they’re not visible to customers, these tags help search engines better understand your content, making your site more visible in search results and increasing the likelihood of appearing in voice searches. This boosts on-page SEO as well as voice search SEO.


5. Hone in on mobile optimization and site speed enhancements

Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in its rankings, so having a responsive design and other mobile-friendly features is essential. But in addition to using simple layouts and responsive templates, you also need to keep your site fast.

Much like mobile optimization, page load time affects your site's visibility in search results, including voice search. Google aims to deliver a good user experience, and slow websites negatively impact user experience. You can improve your site's speed by assessing its performance and taking steps to improve site performance.


6. Integrate voice search into your social media

From Facebook’s new voice messaging options to Siri’s “post to…” platform features, voice search is also impacting social media.

Voice search gives users a faster, easier, and more natural way to access relevant content. But to drive traffic to your social pages, you need to adapt your social media content to match the context of voice users.

This means utilizing keywords and hashtags that match voice search queries. By conducting long-tail keyword research and incorporating structured data markups into your social profiles, you can create voice-friendly content that moves customers along the voice marketing funnel.


Define your voice search strategy today

Over the past decade, voice search has evolved faster than ever before. And as more and more consumers rely on smart devices for information, voice search optimization is no longer optional – it's essential for staying competitive.

That’s why you need a digital strategy to optimize voice search.

By embracing conversational language and targeting local SEO, businesses can tap into a new market of users and enhance their voice search SEO performance. From tourism to finance and beyond, the experts at Zehnder offer dynamic voice search optimization services so you can capitalize on convenience and drive conversations. Contact our team today and learn how we can help you maximize your relevance.


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