how to optimize a website for voice search

OK, Google: how to optimize a website for voice search

Voice search is already part of our lives. No matter if you are cooking a meal, repairing a car, or just relaxing in a comfortable chair, it is nice to be able to say “OK, Google” and ask whatever you need. Indeed, this raises customer satisfaction skyhigh. By 2020, 50% of the searches are forecast to be performed by voice. What about your website — is it ready to show up in the results? In this post, we will explore how to optimize a website for voice search.

Share of voice searches 50 by 2020

The main principles of voice search

In this type of search, users submit their queries by voice instead of typing. The speech recognition technology analyzes what they say with high precision. The answer is also delivered to them by voice. The AI (artificial intelligence) techniques understand the user’s intent, consider their previous queries, and get smarter every day.

Although these technologies seem new, they have been around for a while. It all began with text-to-speech and speech-to-text assistants, and then we got giants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and more.

Google voice search

Today, we will focus specifically on Google voice search. To activate it, users say “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google” to their smartphone with a Google page search open. On desktops, users need to tap on the microphone icon.

The main goal of voice search is to quickly give users the desired result. By considering its usefulness and relevance, Google selects only one result to read out in voice. Others are simply shown on the page as usual.

So let’s see what to do so that your website’s content becomes the chosen one — in other words, how to optimize a website for voice search.

How to optimize a website for voice search

Featured snippets

Featured snippets, also known as answer boxes, are the ones shown by Google on top of organic search. The content selected for featured snippets is highly likely to be delivered as voice results.

It is recommended that you identify the most common questions your customers have, and optimize your content so it provides relevant answers that could be chosen for snippets.

The optimal length of a featured snippet is 29 words. H-tags, lists, and bullet points are especially welcome.

Featured Snippets

Conversational question-answer style

When users type Google searches, they make them a little abrupt and incomplete. But when they talk to a voice assistant, it’s like talking to a human, so their queries become fuller. Compare “best fish restaurant in Toronto” and “what is the best fish restaurant in Toronto?”

As a result, voice search phrases are usually three-to-five word long as opposed to typed ones that are one-to-three word long. Queries more often include questions like “what,” “where,” “how,” “why,” and so on. The keywords will be longer as well — so-called long-tailed keywords.

You can optimize your content so that it easily matches these queries. For example, the question could be your H2 and the relevant answer could be in the paragraph.

Concise and relevant answers

Despite the conversational and natural manner, the answers should be concise, clear, and relevant, which meets the main voice search principle — “instantly give the useful results.” Users will not read long novels, they just want a quick and to-the-point answer.

Text easy to understand

Most Google voice content is written at a 9th grade level. So, to optimize a website for voice search, you should make your texts:

  • easy for Google to pronounce
  • easy for listeners to comprehend without looking at the screen
  • free from complicated terms they would have to look up

Overall high rankings

To optimize a website for voice search, you need to follow the general guidelines of search engine optimization even more thoroughly. Since only one result will be read in voice, the content has to be the best of the best.

Since Google strives to choose the most useful results to show in voice search, it will choose highly ranked content. So it’s time to optimize! Take care of content uniqueness, usefulness, relevance that also reflect in the visiting rate, click-through rate (CTR), session duration, and other factors considered by Google.

Local search optimization

People often use voice search to find the nearest places or order something nearby. If it’s your niche and you do offer local services and/or delivery, be sure to optimize your site for local search.

This means to optimize your content with local keywords, list your company at Google My Business, keep your business contact details accurate and up-to-date, and more.

We should note one thing about the popular voice search words “near me.” Google uses them as the user’s intent to have their location tracked. However, it doesn’t mean you have to literally put “near me” on your content.

Website performance optimization

Remember about “instant usefulness”? Your site also has to load instantly. According to Backlinko’s study, a page that comes up in voice results loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than average pages). So it’s a must to increase page loading speed, which may include:

  • image compression
  • lazy loading
  • CSS and JS aggregation
  • the proper use of caching
  • CDNs

and much more.

Always feel free to contact our website support team who can either do a full performance audit and optimize your site speed or do small optimization tasks.

Using the HTTPS protocol

Google admitted that HTTPS pages have a slight boost in the rankings. The trend seems to be stronger when it comes to voice. The Backlinko’s study shows that 70.4% of voice search results are HTTPS pages. This is a powerful incentive to switch to the secure protocol, and you can do it by contacting our website support.

It’s time to optimize your website for voice search!

These have been the basics of how to optimize a website for voice search. Contact our support team and our experts will advise and help you optimize your site. Let users across the globe hear your website’s content read out by Google!

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