OK, Google: how do I make my site voice search ready?
With over 50% of web searches set to be initiated by voice this year, most businesses will need to optimise their websites to avoid losing out on precious leads. Thankfully, just a tweak or two is all it takes…
If you’ve tested your phone or smart speaker with a phrase that isn’t related to the weather or music recently, you’ll have noticed that voice search has improved dramatically. When the technology was introduced by Google and Apple in 2011, it was frankly a clunky novelty, but today it’s where the future of the internet lies. 41% of adults used voice search last year and projections show that in 2020, at least 50% of all online searches will be voice driven. (And if you can stomach another statistic, a further study claims that 58% of consumers used voice search to find information on a local business in the last 12 months.)
The way that people are looking for businesses is changing – and those that are voice search ready will be at the top of the rankings.
As with most aspects of SEO, you can dive as deep as you like into the detail and invest considerable amounts of money in getting your site optimised for voice search across every browser and device. The average small to medium sized business, however, can achieve solid results by making simple website copy changes and checking that they’ve got the essentials covered.
1) Update your Google My Business listing
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that, at its simplest, displays your services, location and opening hours. And given that it’s built by Google, it’s extremely voice search friendly. This means that the search engine can quickly access and understand all the relevant information without having to trawl your website, which may be structured or displayed in a way that the bots struggle to understand.
Log on and load GMB with as much information about your business as you possibly can – even if it’s repeated on your website – and you’ll reap the rewards in no time. Even information such as whether parking is available can make a difference, so make sure that your Google My Business listing is as complete and comprehensive as possible.
And if you do nothing else, update your address. ‘Near me’ searches are ridiculously popular on Google and it’s highly likely that GMB is the first place that the search engine looks for answers.
2) Mind your language
Someone searching for something on their desktop browser will more than likely use a few key words to find the information they’re looking for: ‘creative agency Bristol’, for example. But voice search is different.
Users will typically search for things in a more human, conversational manner – ‘what are the main creative agencies in Bristol?’ would be the voice search equivalent – and if you can replicate the answers to these questions in the phrases used on your website (‘SIM7 is one of the main creative agencies in Bristol’, for example), the search engine will thank you for it by pushing you up the rankings. Yes, Google is an incredibly sophisticated search engine, but the easier you make it for Google’s spiders to crawl and parse your content (word-for-word), the more likely you are to show up in search results.
3) Are you answering the right questions?
Following on from the previous point, what questions might your prospective customers or clients typically have about what you do? What crucial information do your prospects need to make an informed decision about your company? What is it about your business that’s unique?
The answers should all be found on your website – and phrased in a conversational way – if you want Google to promote your business when someone literally asks the questions.
4) Play the long (tail) game
If you’ve ever looked at Google Analytics to find out what search terms are driving people to your site, you’ll have probably seen some longer and fairly specific – almost unique – phrases used. In SEO terms, these are known as ‘long tail keywords’ and they’re extremely powerful when it comes to voice search. By adding these long-tail phrases into your copy, you’ll have a much better chance of ranking for these queries and appearing prominently in search results – especially if you can match all or some of the phrase word-for-word.
For example, we’ve just added the phrase ‘…we’re proud to be a creative agency that’s known for copywriting as much as design…’ to our site. And yes, while it’s unlikely that anyone will voice search for that exact phrase in its entirety, there’s a good chance that someone will ask Google for ‘a creative agency that’s known for copywriting’. And as far as voice search is concerned, matching a string of seven consecutive words like that is SEO gold.
For more information about getting your site voice search ready, get in touch with Sim at email@example.com