The voice recognition industry is growing rapidly and it’s expected to exceed $601 million by 2019. Of course, the voice tech is getting smarter and more sophisticated daily. Stats show that Google’s technology is now 95% accurate. And, the most beautiful thing about it is that it’s now available to anyone. You need only a smartphone to conduct voice search queries and give voice commands. Most importantly, it’s making our lives much simpler. You can now find the desired information easily, without having to look at the screen.
As such, voice search has become a significant SEO trend you cannot afford to ignore if you want to stay competitive. Now, the question is, what exactly you should do to optimize your ecommerce site for voice search.
Here are a few simple steps you need to take.
1. Optimize your website for questions.
Let’s say you’re selling pet supplies online. How will your customers find you using voice search? Chances are they won’t use traditional keywords like “best pet supplies online.” Instead, they’ll probably ask something like “Ok Google, where to find the best discounts on pet supplies?” or “What are pet stores near me?” Voice search is more natural and it is usually in a form of a question.
Keep that in mind when optimizing your content for voice. Instead of chasing exact-match keyword phrases, design your website pages so they can really answer your customers’ questions.
To achieve even better results, use the so-called trigger words for voice search and add them to your content. Some of these words are: how, what, when, where, best, is, can, top, make, free, and so forth. This leads us to the next section and that’s the choice of the right keywords.
2. Target natural and conversational keywords.
We’ve already mentioned above that voice queries are more natural and organic than traditional, text-based searches. When conducting a text-based search, a user wants to save time and, thus, shortens their queries to the bare minimum. However, this is not the case with voice searches.
Now, we finally can perform searches without even looking at the screen and that’s why the phrases and constructions we use are similar to how we speak in real life. And, Google’s research claims the same. They state that almost 70% of voice search queries are not based on some typical keywords, but are expressed in a natural language.
For you, this means that you need to target long-tail and highly contextualized keywords. Get together with your employees and make a list of potential voice searches your target customers may use. You should also explore how they communicate and discuss yours or similar products online. Q&A sites, social networks, and niche-specific forums could be your ideal starting point.
3. Switch to HTTPS.
We’ve been reading a lot about the importance of moving from HTTP to HTTPS. Four Dots, an SEO consulting agency, has recently published an extensive piece on the link between SSL/HTTPS and Google rankings. Here are a few benefits of using HTTPS they listed. First off, Google has made HTTPS a slight ranking factor and started labeling sites with HTTP as “not secure”. So, even if it may not hurt your online presence significantly, it can still harm your user experience and brand image. When they get warned that your site is not safe enough for them, some of your potential customers may decide to skip it.
But, what does it have to do with voice search?
According to the research conducted recently by Backlinko, HTTPS may be even more significant for voice search than for desktop and mobile searches. According to them, 70.4% of voice search results contained HTTPS, compared to 50% of desktop results.
4. Make your site faster.
You already know the importance of fast load times are for your SEO efforts. A fast site significantly improves user experience, boosts the time your customers spend on your site, engages them, and inspires them to make a purchase. Most importantly, it is a ranking signal and it has been recently made even more important with Google’s Speed Update.
However, website speed also plays an important role in voice search optimization. Namely, when a user conducts a voice search, Google needs to provide a relevant answer instantly. And, if your page loads slowly, Google will ignore it.
This was also proved by the above mentioned Backlinko’s research. They analyzed 10,000 voice search results and concluded that, unlike the average page loading speed which is 8.8 seconds, voice search results pages load in less than 4.6 seconds.
Here are a few tips that may help you boost your page load speed:
- Use caching
- Reduce the size of your images
- Invest in a CDN (content delivery network)
- Choose a fast web host
- Remove broken links and reduce redirects
- Minify your code
5. Use structured data.
When we were discussing page load speed, we mentioned that voice search relies on the pages that are readily available. So, unlike the regular Google search, where a user types a few keywords into a search box and Google gives them a list of blue links in the SERPs, voice search provides a user with just one result. So, to boost your online exposure, you need to use structured data, also known as schema markup.
Namely, schema markup is basically metadata that highlights the most important information about you and lets Google find your business information faster. Even though it doesn’t impact your rankings directly, it still gives you a nice competitive advantage. This data allows Google to analyze and classify your content easier, as well as to understand the context behind it.
But, why is it important for voice search? Well, when people google online local businesses, they usually want to learn more about them. By investing in structured data, you will ensure that search engines will make your information appear in the voice search and that your users will be able to learn more about you before clicking on your site.
6. Boost mobile experiences.
We’re living in a mobile-first era. According to some recent studies, 1 out of every 5 voice searchers uses mobile devices. Once your site appears in front of them in the voice search, they may decide to pay your site a visit. And, if they don’t like what they see once they land on it, they will leave it without looking at your products.
Remember, today’s online customers are tech-savvy and they know what pleasant mobile experiences look like. They don’t want to pinch zoom and out to read your content, scroll endlessly to find the desired products, and get lost in a bunch of categories in your overly complex menu. No. They expect a smooth interaction with your site and here are a few steps you need to take to improve their experience:
- Make your checkout process simple to inspire customers to complete the purchase. For example, make your CTAs prominent and place them on the top of the screen, keep your customers in their “thumb zone,” remove distractions from your checkout process, and add security seals to emphasize your site’s safety.
- Simplify your navigation menu. Add it to the top of the site so your customers can easily reach it irrespective of the page they’re on.
- Display catchy and visually appealing images of your hottest products in a collage format to boost their visibility.
- Make your clickable elements easy to tap on.
- Add a search bar to your site to make it easier for your customers to find the products they’re looking for.
- Use Google AMP to make your site both faster and pleasing to the eye.
- Add video product demos or GIFs to tell your customers what your product is about. Also, you should write a brief description and include a catchy CTA to boost sales.
- Assess your site’s responsiveness using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
7. Invest in high-quality content.
To boost your credibility in the online world, engage with your customers, and get more opportunities to appear high in the SERPs, you need to create quality content. Of course, this doesn’t mean writing 500-word articles spammed with a bunch of exact-match keywords. The content you publish on your blog should bring value to the people reading it. It needs to be educational, interactive, and industry-specific. And, as for voice search, you need to optimize your content for it. Here is what Backlinko’s research mentioned above teaches us about the link between your content and voice search rankings.
Create longer content.
The articles with a higher word count perform better in voice search. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Google calculates the number of words in your content when displaying it in voice search. No. In their Voice Search rater guidelines, they’ve even emphasized that they’ll value small snippets over large ones. So, this phenomenon has to do with simple mathematics- more words give your content the opportunity to match the voice search result.
Get the most out of your FAQ page.
FAQ pages can also serve as an invaluable online resource. And, the reason why they do particularly well in voice search is logical. We already said that most voice searches are lengthy questions. This is the exact sort of questions you can find on a quality FAQ page, meaning that they give you the chance to match your searchers’ queries.
You can optimize your answers, too. We’ve already mentioned that Google loves your voice search results sweet and short. So, you could simply create 30-ish word answers on your FAQ page, which would be perfect for voice search results.
Make your content readable.
In their voice search guidelines mentioned above, Google emphasizes the importance of content readability and legibility. They emphasize the importance of improving your content’s elocution, or the clarity of its pronunciation and articulation. Here is what they said about it:
“How accurate were the pronunciations of each word spoken in the response? Was the intonation of the voice natural throughout the response? Was the speed at which the response was spoken appropriate? This could be due to an awkward rhythm in the spoken response, or words slightly mispronounced.”
So, to show up in voice search, your content needs to be easy to understand. Use simple sentence constructions, choose everyday words over complex industry-related terms, and go with the terms that are easily pronounceable.
Optimizing for voice will make you more attractive to your customers.
The benefits of voice search are multiple. First, it boosts your exposure in the overly competitive online landscape. Second, it proves that you are a reliable and authoritative source of information. Third, it gives you the opportunity to target your ideal customers more precisely and boost your engagement and conversion rates. Precisely because of that, you should make it an integral part of your SEO strategy.
Have you optimized your ecommerce site for voice? Is there anything you would like to add? Share your thoughts on voice search in the comments!
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