Voice Search Optimization for Beginners

Statistics on the rise and potential of voice search are captivating: 

  • 55% of households are expected to own a smart speaker device by 2022 (Source: OC&C Strategy Consultants)
  • 65% of 25-49 year olds use their voice-enabled device at least once per day (Source: PwC)
  • More than half of all online searches will be voice initiated by 2020 (Source: Comscore)

There’s simply no question that the age of voice search has arrived but the question remains; how can businesses like yours take advantage of this new reality? Not much information actually exists - unfortunately - about best practices for optimizing a website or its content for a voice search dominant world. Doing some digital digging, however, reveals some very useful guidance on ensuring that the information your business provides is what’s featured through a customers smart speaker when asked.

To be successful with a voice search optimization initiative, it is essential to ensure that content is presented in a way that is perceived as useful and the best possible response for a users’ query.

What’s the best approach to voice search optimization?

Information Satisfaction: The number of search queries in the form of a question has risen dramatically over the years but it is important for content marketers to ensure that they are providing the actual answer to the users’ queries and to do so quickly and prominently (as in at the beginning of their content). While the tendency is for marketers to “embrace a narrative” and elaborate and pontificate ad nauseum, burying the answer in a lengthy content piece reduces the likelihood of a response being returned as the best result for the query as it is more difficult for the engines to determine the actual answer.

Response Length: While detailed answers - with supporting evidence - are almost always preferred in a non-voice search (traditional desktop) environment, keeping answers short and concise (preferably less than 30 words - source: Backlinko) provides the best opportunity to be selected as the top result due to it being efficient for the user. While great care must still be placed on providing the correct answer, formulating a response with the right words and phrases is critical and may ultimately be one of the most important factors in ranking for voice search queries. 

Answer Elocution: Communication is not just about what we say, but how it is said. That means that the rhythm and sound of the language used, as well as the pattern of intonation, is going to be a major factor in optimization - particularly because it is relatively simple for artificial intelligence engines to assess the quality and impact of the response on the user. Does the content make sense when read out loud? If so, you’re on the right track. There are many other steps that today’s enterprises should take to improve the likelihood that their information will be chosen as the answer to a voice search query, from structuring content with schema markup to using header tags and bulleted lists. Analyze your own website based on the above criteria to determine if your content is a contender for a voice search query and you'll be prepared for the search experience of the future.

Voice Search Optimization

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