A Quick Background to Voice Search Optimization
There’s far more to voice search than mere convenience. It’s changing the way people receive information on the Internet, how users search for the information they need and even the users’ attitudes toward search engines in general. As Kenneth Sytian, head honcho for web design firm Sytian Productions explains, “This offers strong opportunities in terms of voice search optimization.”
If we take a look at some of the biggest players in voice search technology, the four pillars are – Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. Voice search as we know it today dates back to the early 2000s, when Google launched the voice interface for a search engine. This was a primitive version of voice search where users called a phone number provided by Google, asked a question, then opened their desktop browsers to reveal the results. Until 2013 that technology also powered Apple’s, Siri.
That all changed when Apple began using Bing’s search engine technology to power Siri. It was a predecessor to Cortana, which launched in 2014 as Microsoft’s — which owns Bing — “voice-activated assistant.” (Fact: Bing also powers search engine results that are requested through Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, or AVS.) Yes, just like watching a child grow, progressing from the baby-talk level of recognizing few syllables, to building a vocabulary of thousand words, to answering questions with quick, witty replies, voice search has truly evolved.
Businesses can take advantage of voice search optimization and as Sytian says “future-proof their SEO strategy.” Here are some guidelines for voice search optimization from Kenneth Sytian:
Guidelines for Voice Search Optimization
- Learn How People Search for Your Product.
Every content of your site should have the user in mind. Expand your terms since most processes are looking to pair the query with the result that makes the most sense. The closer you match, the better. How can you do this? Try voice search for yourself. If you were in the shoes of the user, how are you going to search using this medium? Simply, by asking. Focus on answering the questions that matter most to your business. For example, if a voice search user asks for “nearest local pizza restaurant”, your chances will increase if you are located near the searcher. You can do this by implementing schema markups on your site, as discussed in a few.
- Be Mobile-Friendly
Obviously, the majority of voice search is performed on mobile devices. Note that people read mobile content differently than they do with a desktop. Make sure your site is responsive, that it adjusts based on the size and resolution of the device used, and that the content of what you are showing is relevant to their needs and gets to the point. Also, your site needs to load quickly. People who use voice searches are oftentimes multi-tasking; you should be able to deliver the information they need as soon as they expect it.
- Optimize for Local
Aside from being mobile-friendly, another important facet to voice search optimization is content localization. This means that your site needs to be optimized for local search. Your local search strategy should include your name, contact and address information and it should be consistent everywhere it is listed on the web. You should also update your information on Google Maps since Voice Search uses Maps as its “directory”.
- Implement Schema Markup on your site
Implement a structured markup or Schema on your site. A schema is a code that is incorporated into a website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. Schema allows you to more comprehensively “describe” what the data on your website means that can be easily recognized by Google which then could boost your visibility. The schema is also one of the most powerful, but least-utilized forms of SEO.
Making the Most of Content for Voice Search Optimization
- Humanize your Content.
To “humanize” your content is to use natural language. Think about how people normally ask queries. Think about your keyword phrases in a more conversational context – it’s the most natural way. Focusing on phrases that a person would naturally use in speech is one of the first steps to take. Who, what, where, when, how – make sure that you include these terms in your content and messaging.
- Make the body of the content easier to scan.
Whenever we read a book or article from journals and magazine, we typically read word for word. We absorb the context and then try out to figure out its essence. But on the web, most of us just “scan” information, jumping from one point of interest to another, with a hope of stumbling over some relevant data. The point here is to eliminate fluff. There is nothing better than a brief, to-the-point content that is still filled with information.
- Properly format your content.
You may use subheads, numbers, bulleted lists, and another formatting to highlight the key elements of your post. Add emphasis to these through the good use of the bold and italic formatting options. You reader will be able to scan through and pick out the most important information at a glance. Also, back up your cornerstone content with useful and relevant links – not with a “click here” – but with an anchor text. Paragraphs should be in chunks – not a big wall of text that will make the reader lose interest with the content. If possible, facilitate better interactions with skeleton screens.
- Apply a better template layout for your content.
Your content appearance can become a moving target everyone has preferences and pre-disposed ideas. Color harmony, proper font pairing, choice of backgrounds, text alignments – these are all important to nail your site’s aesthetics.