Since the early days of search engine optimization, the goal has been to earn the favor of search engines by building websites that appeal to the preferences of their users. They want mobile optimization? Check. Valuable, rich content? Check. Clean websites, fast loading speeds and video? Check, check and check.
SEO is how your business gets found online but accomplishing this means paying close attention to how your target market is engaging in the digital world. In the past, optimizing a website involved an SEO strategy that focused on keywords and key phrases that aligned with the queries of search engine users.
This hasn’t necessarily changed, but the language and ways that people are using search engines has. Today, optimizing your website for SEO isn’t as much about what people are typing into Google’s search bar, but rather what they’re saying with their voice.
How Important Is Voice Search Today?
If you’ve spent any amount of time researching search engine optimization strategies, you’ve no doubt come across the statistic that by this time next year, at least half of all search queries will be initiated by voice. Some would probably argue that we’re already at that point.
That’s an entire half of your audience searching and reaching out to businesses via voice. What happens if voice search optimization isn’t on your radar? The simple answer is that you’re going to miss out on a lot of traffic and the chance to win over a huge section of your audience.
If you feel like you’re behind the times because SEO for voice search has pretty much been the last thing on your mind, trust that you’re not alone. Voice search has been a thing for a few years now, but it’s really been this past year that more people have dipped their toes into the waters of voice search – due largely in part to the increased accessibility of voice search assistants.
So, now there’s a surge of businesses who are suddenly realizing the importance of voice search optimization. The time to jump on this trend is now, rather than later. This is especially true for businesses that are looking to get more traction out of their local SEO strategy as “near me” voice searches are on the rise.
The question isn’t if you should optimize your web design for voice search, but rather how you should do it. You can breathe easy because it really isn’t as difficult as it sounds, and chances are you’re already doing some of it.
What Are They Saying?
There are a few ways to approach voice search optimization, but one of the very first things that needs to be looked at is how voice search differs from text-based searches. While the intent might be the same with both types of searches, they way they’re worded are quite different.
In general, people are pretty lazy when it comes to text. We really don’t want to type any more than we need to, especially on small mobile screens with autocorrect that can completely change the context of what we’re typing. So, with a text search, a search engine user is more likely to use shorthand and omit words altogether.
For instance, say a person is looking for new flooring for their kitchen remodel. A text search might look something like “home improvement near me”. There really isn’t a lot of description there but it tells the search engines just enough to get some relevant results to show up in response to their query.
Voice search looks different. The very same person might say “show me local home improvement stores with kitchen flooring options.” That’s quite a stark contrast, and this is just one variation. There’s a great deal more variants in how people talk than how they type.
The first step to SEO for voice search is reaching the different keywords, longer phrases and natural voice patterns that are being used in voice search. Next, optimize your content – blogs, product descriptions, landing pages, video…, for voice search keyword targets.
Think About Mobile UX
When you’re looking to optimize your site for voice, you should really stop and consider where these searches are coming from. Yes, some are coming from home voice assistants or laptops, but the majority of them are coming from mobile devices.
Voice search makes sense for mobile users. It can be done while driving, walking or sitting around, and it’s just flat out easier. But what happens if you’ve built up a keyword strategy that ranks you in voice searches, but your website isn’t optimized for mobile users who are initiating those searches?
Web development for voice search should include looking at all the factors that contribute to a positive mobile user experience (UX). Fortunately, many of the optimization strategies that fall under this category might already be part of your SEO.
For instance, how fast does your site load and is it functional and easy to use on smaller mobile screens? Was your site designed with responsive design, or are you still torturing your site visitors by having them navigate a traditional website on their smartphones? Also, optimizing content for the mobile consumer will help you stand out in featured snippets and other enhanced search engine results.
Embracing the Future of Voice
Change might be necessary, but it isn’t always easy. Adapting your web development for voice has become a necessity, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or painful – especially if you have an experienced partner in search engine optimization by your side. At Knowmad, we know that the changing landscape of the digital world can be confusing for many businesses.
That’s why we’re here to help. We offer a full range of digital services that include website design, search engine optimization, content marketing and more. We can help build a website and search strategy that meets the demands of today's voice user. Reach out to Knowmad today to learn how you can reach more of your audience through voice optimization.
William McKee is a founding partner of Knowmad. As a Web architect & Internet business consultant, he is passionate about applying business knowledge & technical expertise to deliver solutions that advance business online. With over 15 years of Web experience, his current work involves designing strategies and creating processes to help business attract, engage and convert website visitors into customers.