The growing popularity of smartphones, smart speakers and virtual assistants is changing the way people search online. The convenience and efficiency offered by voice search, together with its use of AI, means it’s here to stay. For website owners, understanding and adapting to this shift in user behaviour is vital if they are to maintain and improve online visibility and provide the seamless user experiences customers now expect. In this post, we explain how to optimise your website for voice search.
Understanding voice search
Essentially, voice search allows users to search online using their voice. This is possible because the devices they use are connected to powerful computers that can understand and interpret speech using advanced algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Referred to as Natural Language Processing, it enables computers to deliver relevant and accurate results, which it can do using speech itself, allowing people and machines to communicate and have realistic conversations.
While a highly advanced technology, voice search has been popular for many years, thanks to services like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Today, the market for voice-activated products is booming. According to TechReport’s Key Voice Search Statistics, there will be 8.4 billion voice assistants by the end of this year, that’s more than one per person, globally. In the US, 41% of adults search with them every day. Synup, meanwhile, informs us that 27% of Google app searches are now done by voice, that local searches will make up 76% of all voice searches and that voice search sales were expected to hit over £30 billion in 2023. What’s more, the take-up of voice search isn’t limited to niche demographics but spans many age groups and lifestyles.
Importance of voice search optimisation
As voice search becomes normalised, website owners will have little choice but to adapt. Only this way will their websites be able to improve visibility, engage the voice-search audience and keep up with competitors.
Voice search optimisation offers several key benefits. Firstly, by adapting your website to support this type of search, you cater for the growing audience that prefers it, thus enhancing the user experience by providing a quick, convenient and often hands-free way to access information. As voice searches often carry local intent, optimisation can also give businesses a competitive edge in local search results, boosting local SEO and making your business more discoverable in your area. This is especially beneficial for small and local businesses aiming to attract customers nearby.
Additionally, website voice search optimisation can help increase traffic and improve engagement. By creating content with the natural, conversational tone used in voice queries, you can increase the likelihood of appearing in voice search results.
Optimising content for voice search
So, how do you optimise content for voice search? Well, as voice searches tend to be more conversational and question-based, adapting your content to suit these behaviours is crucial if you want to be visible and relevant in voice search results. This means adopting a more natural and conversational tone in your content and answering questions using phrases and sentences that people are likely to speak rather than write.
This is particularly important for SEO. As a typical typed search might be something like ‘web host Leeds’, traditional SEO would suggest using this phrase as a keyword. However, with voice search, a person may ask, ‘Are there any web hosts based in Leeds?’ As this is a question, content which formulates an answer, e.g., ‘Webhosting UK is a web host based in Leeds’, is likely to rank higher. Long-tail keywords like this, therefore, will become more important for voice search SEO due to the conversational nature of voice queries.
Additionally, structuring content to directly answer questions can also boost your voice search optimisation. This can be done by creating FAQ pages or using question-and-answer formats within your content.
One of the most important technical aspects of website voice search optimisation is the implementation of schema markup and structured data. These are vital as they help search engines understand the context and content of your website. Structuring your data in a way that search engines can easily interpret is particularly beneficial for voice search, for instance, marking up your location, opening hours and services can improve visibility in local voice searches.
As a significant portion of voice searches take place on mobile devices (27% in 2023, according to TechReport,) it’s vital that your website is mobile-friendly. This means having a responsive design that adapts to various screen sizes, fast loading times and easy-to-navigate pages. What’s more, mobile-optimised websites are also more likely to rank higher in search results, a factor that’s increasingly important as voice search queries continue to grow.
Website speed also plays a key role in voice search optimisation. Users expect quick answers and search engines prioritise websites that load quickly. Speeding up your website can therefore play dividends for both SEO and user experience, as well as boosting sales.
Local SEO and voice search
As voice search queries often involve seeking information about local businesses, events or services, optimising for local SEO can significantly improve your visibility in these results. To help, use location-based keywords in your content, titles and meta descriptions, but make sure they are couched in a way that will be spoken rather than typed.
You should also sign up and get a listing on Google Business Profile and Bing Places, as information is often pulled from here to provide voice search answers. Other helpful content includes local news or blog content and reviews of your business. For more information, read our article 5 Top Local SEO Ranking Factors.
Voice search tools and analytics
Success with voice search requires an understanding of the tools that help optimise, analyse and improve voice search performance. There are various tools available today, some like Google Search Console are free, while others, like SEMrush, are paid for. Some feature keyword research tools that focus on the long tail keywords, conversational phrases and questions commonly used in voice searches, while others help optimise content snippets so that they have more chance of being pulled in search results.
The most beneficial tools are those which offer specific voice search analytics, as these can offer deep insights into the performance of your voice search SEO, including the frequency of voice search traffic, the types of queries sending users to your site and search visitor behaviour.
Just as every website had to adapt to accommodate mobile devices with the advent of smartphones, today, every website will have to begin adapting to voice search. It is not only here to stay; it’s going to get more popular and more capable. Hopefully, this article will have helped you better understand voice search and the strategies you will need to put in place to optimise your site for it.
Ready to enhance your website for the voice search era? Start implementing these strategies today to stay visible and accessible to your audience. If you’re looking for reliable hosting to support your optimisation efforts, explore our web hosting services. Have questions or need assistance? Feel free to reach out. Let’s optimise for voice together!