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Is Your Website Voice Search Ready?

21 Jun 2017

When Apple introduced Siri in 2011, many people thought voice-assisted search was little more than a passing fad. I’ll admit, I had a hard time thinking of Siri as a serious tool that could assist me in daily life. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy asking Siri to do amusing things…

Fast-forward to 2017 and it’s clear that the idea of voice-driven queries is here to stay. Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Samsung are just some of the industry leaders that have invested some serious capital into the development of their intelligent personal assistant platforms. As the platforms have evolved and become more sophisticated, the adoption of voice-activated search is accelerating rapidly. Signs of change include: 

  • In 2015, MindMeld shared data showing that the percentage of voice searches went from 0% to 10% in just one year
  • In May 2016, Google reported that voice search represents approximately 20% of mobile searches on the Android platform 

As voice search becomes commonplace, savvy digital marketers are finding ways to ensure that their content is optimised to capture voice queries. Today we’ll share a few of the things we’re doing to ensure our clients’ websites will perform well in the era of voice search.

Anticipate conversational questions

When using voice search, people tend to ask specific questions. You can prepare for this by thinking about the types of questions your audience might ask when looking for your products or services. Once you have a list of questions in mind, find a way to address these questions throughout website content. Here are two easy ways to do this: 

  • Include a detailed and thorough FAQ page (or pages) on your website. You should list out questions that you commonly receive from customers. Use natural language to write these questions – this is how people will ask them when using voice queries.
  • Write blog posts that address a specific question or issue. This is an easy way to mix up your editorial schedule, too! 

Both of these suggestions are things that we have been recommending for years – well before the advent of voice search. It just so happens that they are also great for helping capture the voice search segment, proving once again that providing natural, intuitive content is a great future-proofing strategy.

Optimise for longtail keywords and phrases

Let’s say you’re looking for a mechanic to service your Toyota. Using text search, you might type in “Toyota mechanic.” If you are using voice search, you’re more likely to say “Find me mechanics that work on Toyotas” or “What mechanics specialise in Toyotas?” For now, the way we are using voice search is more conversational, and less direct that the keyword-driven searches we tend to make using traditional text search. 

This means that long-tail keywords and phrases are more important than ever. When creating new content or optimising existing content for voice search, try to think about the different ways various groups may describe your products or services. Take advantage of the way voice search uses natural language to beef up your content. The good news is that this should be easier than trying to cram in unnatural keyword strings into your content (we don’t recommend doing this anyway!).

Optimise your website for mobile use

For now, voice search is strongly associated with mobile use. This is just another reason why it’s vital that you have a responsive website that will meet the needs of those browsing your site on a mobile device. Recent trends suggest that people are using voice search when they are actively looking for a product or service. This is an incredibly valuable segment because these users are in a decision-making mind-set and are more likely to convert. But that can only happen if you’re meeting their needs. 

Take the time to frequently visit your website from your mobile device. Ask yourself if it’s easy to find information about your products or services. Can you quickly locate contact information? Are images and text appropriately sized? Does the website load up quickly? If you don’t have a responsive website, now is the time to consider updating your look. If your site isn’t attractive to a mobile audience, I can guarantee that you will miss out on the massive potential of the voice search audience.

Optimise for local search

Voice search also tends to be oriented towards finding local products or services. Customers may be saying things like “Where can I find a healthy lunch in Christchurch?” or “Where is the best seafood in Christchurch?” To show up for these searches, not only will you need to capture these longtail searches, but your website will also need to be optimised for local SEO. If you have a brick and mortar shop, local search is vital to your success in and outside of the mobile search arena. So if you’re not already focusing on local search, we encourage you to start doing so now. In addition to a local SEO strategy, it’s a good idea to include info such as: 

  • Your opening hours
  • Location (and how to find your shop if it’s not immediately visible from the street)
  • Where to park or how to arrive via public transportation 

This kind of information removes barriers that might prevent prospective customers who are on the go from finding you.

Are you ready?

Love it or hate it, voice search is here to stay. Ensure you stay ahead of the curve by optimising your website to capture this increasingly popular way of searching for content. At Limelight Online, our time-tested SEO strategies are an excellent investment that will keep you at the front of the crowd regardless of emerging search trends because we are committed to providing user-focused content. We encourage you to contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get more visibility online.

Written by
Mark is our Digital Marketing Manager and has worked in the online marketing space since 2005. Before joining us he plied his trade in various traditional marketing roles abroad and in New Zealand, yet nowadays much prefers the highly measurable and transparent nature of online marketing.

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