There are three critical parts to voice search optimization: Directory listings, content creation and website optimization. The great thing about prioritizing voice search optimization is that, not only will it optimize your business for local search, but it will optimize your business for all search online.
In this article, I will break down all three sections of voice search optimization, to help you grow your presence online, whether consumers are simply conducting a voice search, conducting local search or searching for long-form organic content.
To get our full voice search optimization checklist - a step-by-step guide to full voice search optimization - that you can print out and tick off as you go, click here.
1. Directory-specific optimization
For brands wanting to grow foot traffic directly to their physical brick-and-mortar locations, listing your business locations in online directories is essential for driving online-offline purchases.
A 2018 Uberall study found that 82% of consumers conduct ‘near me’ searches before heading to a physical location. This is the single largest consumer behaviour change in recent years when it comes to search. Google’s most recent data also shows that 20% of all mobile search is voice search.
In order to reach consumers conducting local search queries, you’re going to need to focus on filling out accurate business information for all of your locations on the directories that really matter for voice search.
Making Sure Your Directory Listings Are Accurate and Consistent
- List your business location information - (Business Name, Address, Phone, Opening hours, Website, zip/postal code etc…) on the most important directories for voice search
- Make sure the business information is accurate for all of your locations - are your opening hours correct? Have you moved or closed down a location? (this is a major search engine trust factor!)
- Make sure your business information is consistent for all of your locations - Are there variations in your business name? If so then this is a mistake and it’s one that most brands make online. Say your business name is ‘White House’. You’ve listed it as ‘White House’ on your Google My Business profile but you’re listed as ‘The White House Ltd’ on your Bing Profile. Consistency matters. Make sure all your business information is up-to-date and consistent for all locations across every directory that your business locations are on.
- List on the most important directories - Listing and manually updating a location on 30 different directories is time consuming and difficult to manage - especially when you have multiple locations. For this reason, start with the directories with the most authority juice which brings us to...
The 37 Most Important Directories for Voice Search
In our recent voice search report, we identified 37 directories that were important to rank for local voice search queries. However, we also found that approximately 90% of all voice search readiness comes from having accurate and consistent listings for all of your locations across just Google, Yelp and Bing - the three most important directories for voice search.
You might already have your GMB, Bing and Yelp profiles filled out. But that doesn’t mean they are optimized to help you rank. We recently analysed 73,000 business locations and found that only 4% of locations had accurate and consistent location information across Google, Bing and Yelp.
You may have a profile on all 3, but are those profiles correct?
Why Is 90% of Voice Search Directory Optimization Based Around These Three Directories?
- Google - Getting listed on Google is your first priority for any type of search - including voice search. The search engine powers Google assistant and Siri and also owns approximately 90% of the total search engine market share
- Yelp - Yelp reviews feed Bing and virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Cortana. Reviews are a major trust factor for local and voice search engine rankings - especially when the consumer conducts a quality orientated search like ‘best coffee near me’.
- Bing - The other big player in the search engine market. Sure, Google still dominates everywhere except the moon but Bing still gets roughly 6% of all search traffic in the USA and feeds Alexa and Cortana. Despite this, our analysis of 73,000 business locations found that approximately 50% of all Bing business listings were either missing or had errors.
Bing is the biggest opportunity today for brands wanting to optimise for voice search.
Having accurate and consistent location listings on these 3 directories will mean, not only that you will have a 90% voice readiness score, but that you will also increase your local SEO on Google’s local 3-pack and get found by consumers who are looking for goods and services that you provide in the area that you provide them.
If you want to have a 90% voice search optimization score across directories then follow the links below and fill out accurate and consistent business location listings across Google, Bing and Yelp.
If you have already filled out these profiles, you’ll want to check how accurate they are. Use our company presence check tool to diagnose the health of your business across directories important for voice and local search.
2. Content Optimization
In order to optimize for voice search, you first need to understand what a voice search looks like. In order to do that, you need to use your keyword search tool or find one that works for you.
Understand How Consumers Are Searching
After conducting a keyword search for ‘restaurants near me’ - which has a high monthly global search volume of 6.2 million, I found a long-tail keyword stating ‘what restaurants are open on thanksgiving near me’ (7.4k search volume).
Now, there is no guarantee that this query was actually conducted through voice search, but it is more likely considering that voice searches are more conversational and because people talk to their voice search assistants as they would to a real person. It is a good assumption to make that the longer, more conversational query would have been conducted through voice search.
Once you have found a keyword search tool that works for you, conduct online consumer queries based around your understanding of who you target consumer is and what their motivations are. Remember to consider the difference between how people type and how people speak.
Satisfy the Customer and Consumer Search Intent
Once you have discovered possible keywords that consumers are searching for online to find your product or service, start building a website FAQ page answering these queries.
One of the best voice search optimization strategies is to also create FAQs in Google Q&A within your Google My Business account. This will allow you to reach consumers conducting more specific long-tail voice search queries locally.
A recent study from Backlinko found that the typical voice search result is 29 words in length - the perfect length for an FAQ page. Creating shorter answers to popular online consumer search queries will also help you to optimize for featured snippets.
40.7% of voice search answers come from featured snippets. The Best practice here is to make sure that you are answering queries within that magical 29-word limit.
Voice Search Answers Will Come From the Body, Not the Head
When crafting content that will rank in voice search queries, focus on short and concise answers in the body of the content.
According to Backlinko less than 2% of voice search results have the exact keyword in the title. This is most likely because voice search queries are long and conversational and don’t work naturally in content headings.
Focus on using these keywords in the body of your content while trying to satisfy the user intent with a short, direct answer that can be pulled by voice search assistants to satisfy the user intent.
3. Website Optimization
When thinking ‘website optimization’ for voice search, think ‘mobile-first optimization’. Most voice search queries are conducted through mobile phones so it’s crucial that you make your website mobile-friendly.
Google penalises sites regardless of method of search if they are not mobile-friendly - because Google penalises anything that impacts the user search experience. When it comes to any type of digital optimization always structure your optimization efforts around two questions:
- Am I satisfying the user search intent?
- Am I providing a user-friendly experience?
By satisfying these two questions, you are always going to be on the right track with optimization.
With Website Page Speed You’re Either Quick or Dead
The average voice search result loads in 4.6 seconds - 52% faster than the average page speed.
If you want your website to rank for voice search (and any other search), you need to make sure that your website loading time is below the 4.6 seconds load time mark. This is not only key for your content to get picked up by search engines and get fed to voice search assistants, this is also key to ensuring that website visitors don’t bounce from your page straight away - a key indicator to Google that your website is not satisfying the user intent.
Structure Your Data
Structured data is essentially data about the information on your website that provides search engines with more information as to your site structure. This information helps search engines to organize your content.
It is difficult to say just how much impact structured data has on search engine rankings, however, since the name of the game is satisfying user intent, the more information you can hit them with when they are scrolling the search engine ranking pages and the more you can stand out from the other results, the more likely that the user will send a click in your direction.
Result two in the above image is a clear result of structured data. It contains:
- A star rating
- The number of reviews
- The amount of time it takes to cook.
You can test your structured data now by using Google’s structured data testing tool
Voice Search Optimization: The Essential Checklist
If you are wondering about the value of voice search optimization than stop wondering. Regardless of how you or your business feels about the value of voice search now or in the future, there are two truths that you need to consider:
- Approximately 1 in 5 consumers are using voice search every week
- Optimizing for voice search will optimize your business for all search
After analyzing 73,000 business locations for their voice search readiness, we created a checklist containing the most essential steps to voice search optimization included here in this article and some others that are not.
If you want a full step-by-step guide to voice search optimization that you can print out and check off as you go, then download the essential voice search optimization checklist here.