The growth of smart speakers and voice search functions on many other internet-connected smart devices, including cars and mobile phones, has meant that the potential for marketing in this area has grown considerably in recent years.

Not wishing to miss out on the potential of marketing via these devices, many businesses are looking at ways of optimising their website and online content to improve their voice search ranking.

This is a fast-evolving area of technology and so the tactics employed continue to change frequently.

However, to improve your chances of Google, Alexa or Siri ranking your firm above others when asked we have put together a list of tips and tricks.

Questions and answers

Firms need to analyse content and its structure to create succinct questions and answers which are inherently more voice search-friendly.

Studies have shown that Google tends to prefer shorter answers for voice search queries, with the typical voice search result being between 41 and 29 words long or less.

Many businesses are already increasing their use of FAQs to improve their chance of reaching position zero (the term used to describe the block at the top of the Google search results page).

These should be incorporated throughout a website to improve the chance of being picked up by voice search algorithms, including on service pages and blogs.

The FAQ-style format assists Google in pulling content from a website, but businesses can also use bullet points and lists to break up content into smaller fragments, which should also help with position zero ranking.

Let the conversation flow

Voice search is reliant on a conversational style of writing to pick up results, which differs from more traditional SEO. If content sounds too robotic or monotone it is less likely to get picked up by voice search processes.

By using natural language, there is a greater chance of the copy matching the request from the person making a voice search. That is why it is important to think about the searcher’s approach to making a request.

You should consider:

  • How would I ask a question?
  • What kind of answer would I expect/want?
  • Are there any keywords a person is likely to use in relation to that service?
  • What type of questions are being asked the most already?

Voice searches also tend to be longer than typed searches due to their conversational style and it has become clear that Google is fond of long-form complete content.

That is why within their content, businesses should include long-tail keywords or phrases (a highly specific phrase consisting of between three and five words).

Examples of this could include:

Buy Reebok Running Shoes Online

In comparison, a short-tail keyword is less specific, such as:

Buy Shoes

The specificity of the longer phrase helps the voice search to pick up phrases within the conversational style of a longer question or sentence asked by a person searching.

Rich answers

Studies have shown that 70 per cent of the answers returned from voice searches occupied a SERP (search engine results page), of which 60 per cent of these were linked to a Featured Snippet.

By stripping out the technicalities of these findings, this means that voice searches will default to any result on a SERP that is not a traditional organic result.

This could include a top-ranking result or even content that comes from reliable and trusted third parties.

This is where the Featured Snippet is key. This is content that Google displays on top of organic results above the ads with attribution to the original source, which is done to provide users with quick and concise answers.

That is why you will often get the same results across various devices because they rely on similar search algorithms.

To improve ranking further, your content should include a ‘Rich Answer’ to a question. This is an answer that ticks many points that the Google algorithm is searching for, including the quick and concise answers provided by a Featured Snippet.

Strip out all of the complexity and jargon and it means that those pages and posts that tick most of Google’s boxes will hit the fabled position zero, which automatically makes it a top choice for voice search results.

A speedy response

Voice search functions rely on their speed of response, but searching through millions of pages to answer a query requires a lot of processing power and so often algorithms favour the best results via the path of least resistance.

In many cases, websites that have long loading times are quickly ‘abandoned’ by the algorithm, which means that you will be less likely to feature in the answer that is given.

If you are struggling with slow loading speeds it is best to speak with a professional web team to see what steps can be taken to improve things.

Google business listings 

One of the first things that many businesses do is get listed on Google Local. This ensures that the location of their business, opening times and contact details are easily searched.

Of course, one of the main things that many people do with voice search is to look for services “near me” or within a specific location.

The main factor here will be your firm’s Google listing. This is what allows Google to know where you are located so that when someone asks Google to display similar businesses in that area, your business has the opportunity to be ranked.

To further improve a businesses chances of getting picked up on local or area-specific voice searches, they should make sure to include target local keywords and rank highly for general SEO for that service in that specific area.

Want to learn more? 

We have looked in more detail at the growing importance of voice search engine optimisation in our latest digital trends guide, which can be downloaded using the link below:

If you are looking to optimise your online content for voice search then we can help you, so please speak to our experienced team.

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