Revolutionise your SEO with voice search optimisation

29 August 2023
11 minutes

In short

When it comes to growing your business online, staying ahead isn’t just a matter of innovation; it’s about understanding and adapting to the evolving ways consumers interact with technology. 

At the forefront of this revolution is voice search. In a short space of time, voice search has transformed how people seek and find information, make decisions and engage with brands. If you’re not already using voice search you could be missing out on attracting a wider audience or ensuring you are serving your current customers to the best of your ability.

In this article, we’re diving deep into the world of voice search optimisation, equipping you with insights that are both actionable and essential. You’ll grasp not only the “why” but, more crucially, the “how” of voice search optimisation. From understanding the nuances of conversational user intent to unravelling the mechanics of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems, this guide is your compass in navigating the terrain of voice interactions.

Whether you’re an ambitious startup or an established enterprise, the insights within this guide are your gateway to elevating your brand’s online presence, securing your competitive edge and forming deeper connections with your audience. With much to cover and plenty to take on board, let’s not hesitate a moment longer.

Grab that coffee you’ve been promising yourself and let’s get started revolutionising your SEO with voice search

What is voice search optimisation?

Voice search optimisation involves enhancing your online presence by tailoring your digital content to match how people naturally speak. Unlike traditional text-based searches, where users type in keywords, voice search uses – you guessed it – voice commands to interact with search engines and find information.

Why is voice search important for SEO?

Voice searches are rapidly gaining popularity with people seeking information online. In fact, according to recent data from Google, 27% of the global population currently uses voice search on their mobile. This shift in user behaviour underscores the need for businesses to adapt their SEO strategies to accommodate this trend.

Voice search isn’t just a technological convenience; it’s a seismic shift that has fundamentally altered the digital landscape, particularly in the realm of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Voice search’s importance for SEO is undeniable. Unlike text searches, where users might input concise phrases, voice queries tend to be conversational and longer. This shift necessitates a significant adjustment in content strategy – one that encompasses long-tail keywords, natural language and answers that are tailored to user intent.

Furthermore, voice search often presents opportunities for winning featured snippets, those succinct answers that appear above search results – more on this later. For SEO, this means the focus shifts from mere rankings to securing the coveted position zero.

Incorporating voice search optimisation into SEO strategies is a proactive step toward meeting evolving user behaviours head-on. It’s about staying aligned with the way your audience interacts with technology, capturing the essence of their spoken inquiries and delivering answers that are useful and relevant.

What distinguishes voice search from text search?

  1. Query length and complexity: Voice queries tend to be longer and more conversational. A text search for “weather forecast” could become “What’s the weather like today?”
  2. Local intent: Voice search often includes local intent. Users might ask, “What are the top coffee shops near me?” instead of searching “best coffee shops.”
  3. Question phrasing: Voice queries are often direct questions which reflect our natural speech patterns, while text searches may tend to use more keywords.
  4. Featured snippets: Voice search often relies on featured snippets for responses, emphasising the importance of concise, informative content.

How does the Automatic Speech Recognition System work?

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology involves using voice recognition software to process human speech and convert it into written text.

The present-day capabilities of ASR have skyrocketed primarily due to breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI). These advancements empower engineers to create sophisticated software that can quickly and accurately respond to human vocalisations. Amazingly, today’s systems are capable of distinguishing between various speakers, accents and other more nuanced vocal characteristics.

Modern iterations of ASR transcription technology have incorporated an element known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). This involves capturing genuine conversations between individuals and processing them using machine intelligence.

How does the process of ASR transcription operate from the user's standpoint?

Here’s the science bit 😉

Individuals or groups produce spoken language, which the ASR software rapidly detects.
Following this, the device generates a waveform file containing the captured linguistic data.
This file then undergoes a process of noise reduction and volume normalisation and the software dissects the refined waveform file into sequential segments for detailed analysis.

By applying statistical models, the ASR software interprets these segments, identifying complete words and subsequently constructing coherent, fully-formed sentences. Clever stuff, right?

How to use voice search optimisation in your business

Voice search optimisation involves several key strategies to ensure your content aligns with how people speak and search. Above all, it is essential to incorporate conversational language, long-tail keywords and natural phrasing into your content.

For example, a travel agency aiming to optimise voice search could create content like “What are the best holiday spots for families?” rather than traditional keyword-based content like “family-friendly holiday destinations.”

How to incorporate keyword research in voice search optimisation

Keyword research is a crucial component of voice search optimisation. By identifying phrases and questions that mirror real-life conversations, you can tailor your content to match the way people naturally ask questions.

Here are some real-world examples to help you get to grips with this important concept.

IT solution providers

Your company offers a suite of IT solutions and services. To optimise for voice search, you might conduct keyword research to identify phrases like “best cybersecurity solutions for businesses,” “IT services for small enterprises,” or “cloud computing solutions for corporate networks.”

Understanding the nuanced language potential clients use when asking about IT solutions can help tailor the content on your website and promotional materials to better resonate with those seeking their expertise.

Digital marketing consultancies

In this scenario, your keyword research might uncover phrases like “effective B2B lead generation strategies,” “measuring ROI in digital marketing,” or “top trends in B2B content marketing.”

By integrating these naturalistic, conversational phrases into your content you can increase their visibility and authority when potential clients seek guidance on marketing strategies through voice-enabled devices.

Financial advisors

If you work in financial services, high-value keywords and search terms might be phrases like “best retirement plans for small businesses,” “tax strategies for B2B enterprises,” or “business succession planning advice.”

Incorporating these natural language queries into your content enables your brand to position itself as the go-to source of reliable information for businesses seeking expert financial guidance.

Advantage or disadvantage?

Disadvantages of voice search optimisation

While voice search offers a great deal of benefits and a raft of conveniences, there are also some challenges to consider. The pros far outweigh the cons but it is important to keep these things in mind so you can adapt your strategy accordingly.

  • Misinterpretation: Voice assistants might misinterpret certain accents or dialects, affecting search accuracy.
  • Privacy concerns: Voice searches raise privacy questions as recordings of user queries are stored and processed.
  • Lack of visual content: Voice-only results omit visual content like images and charts available in text searches.
  • Limited screen interaction: Voice assistants provide minimal options for users who prefer visual or interactive results.

Need-to-know terminology in voice search

Now it’s time to unpick some jargon around voice search optimisation and the world of SEO in general.

What is a featured snippet?

A featured snippet is a concise summary of an answer to a user’s query that appears at the top of search results. It aims to provide users with a quick and direct response to people’s questions without requiring them to click on a specific link.

If your website’s content appears as a featured snippet, the voice assistant may read aloud your response, driving high-quality traffic to your site and showing Google and other search engines that you are a credible, trusted source.

What is a knowledge graph?

A knowledge graph is a visual representation of factual information that helps search engines understand the relationships between different concepts. It presents information in an organised and structured manner, making it easier for users to grasp.

For example, imagine asking your voice assistant about a specific artist’s biography. If your website’s content is part of the knowledge graph, the voice assistant can provide a detailed and coherent summary of the artist’s life and work, pulling information from your well-optimised content.

Vector image of voice search optimisation

Nine great strategies for voice search optimisation

Now’s the fun bit. Here are some effective tactics to consider for your voice search optimisation strategy.

1. Incorporate long-tail keywords and natural language

When it comes to voice search, users tend to ask questions in a more natural, conversational manner. Instead of a traditional keyword search like “best content marketing agencies,” voice searches might take the form of “How can a content marketing agency help my business?” It’s essential to tailor your content to accommodate these natural language queries and ensure that your website offers relevant answers to these conversational questions.

2. Use structured data markup

Utilising structured data markup enhances the understanding of your content by search engines. For instance, if your website revolves around recipes, implementing structured data can provide comprehensive information about ingredients, cooking times and user reviews. This way, search engines can better comprehend the context of your content and provide accurate responses to voice queries.

3. Target the featured snippet

As we’ve mentioned, aiming for the featured snippet spot is a key goal, as voice search often extracts responses from this prime location. By providing concise and informative answers to common queries, you increase the likelihood of your content being selected as the source of voice response, thus amplifying your visibility and authority.

4. Provide a mobile-friendly user experience

Given that the majority of voice searches occur on mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile-responsive is crucial. A mobile-friendly site guarantees a smooth and intuitive user experience, making it more likely for searchers to engage with your content and trust your information. It’s also great for improving your SEO value overall.

5. Don’t forget local SEO

Incorporating location-based keywords is essential for tapping into the growing trend of “near me” searches. If your business is targeting local customers, optimising your Google My Business profile is essential. This gives you a greater chance of being featured when users voice search for services or products nearby.

Infographic about why you have to optimize local search for SEO

6. Optimise your website performance

A fast-loading website significantly enhances the overall user experience which is a critical factor in voice search results and SEO in general. Websites that load swiftly are more likely to capture voice search traffic, as users expect rapid responses to their queries.

7. Establish user intent

Understanding the intent behind voice queries is vital to your success with voice search and SEO. By creating content that directly addresses user needs and provides valuable solutions, you can align your offerings with what users are actively seeking, thereby increasing the relevance and visibility of your content in voice search results.

8. Provide concise answers

Always create content that offers clear and concise answers. Voice assistants favour straightforward responses that address the user’s query succinctly, making it more likely for your content to be featured in voice search results.

9. Update your local listings and encourage positive customer reviews

Positive reviews and accurate business information play a pivotal role in determining which businesses are recommended through voice assistants. Ensuring that your local listings are updated and that your business receives positive feedback can greatly enhance your chance of being suggested in voice search results.

Google’s BERT Algorithm and its relationship to voice search optimisation

In the world of search algorithms, Google’s BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) has marked a significant leap forward. Its unique ability to comprehend context within search queries has profound implications for voice search optimisation.

BERT’s sophistication lies in its capacity to consider the entire sentence’s context, understanding the subtleties and nuances that shape user intent. This contextual understanding aligns seamlessly with the nature of voice search where queries often resemble those natural language conversations we spoke of earlier. Here’s how:

Contextual intelligence for voice search

Voice search is inherently conversational, mimicking the way humans naturally communicate. BERT’s emphasis on understanding context grants it the prowess to discern the intricate layers of meaning in queries.

Nuanced interpretation

BERT can decipher context not just based on the words themselves, but on the interaction between them. This is especially relevant in voice search where user queries tend to be more conversational and contextually complex.

User intent precision

As we have seen, voice search optimisation goes way beyond mere keyword placement; it delves into deciphering user intent. BERT’s contextual intelligence precisely aligns with this need. When users articulate queries verbally, they often seek immediate, relevant answers.

This aligns perfectly with BERT’s capacity to unravel complex user intent, ensuring that voice-optimised content is not only well-matched to user needs but also aligned with the capabilities of the algorithm.

Seizing the BERT advantage

To harness the power of BERT for voice search optimisation you should always create content that aligns with the algorithm’s contextual comprehension.

Focusing on user intent, answering natural language queries and presenting information in a conversational manner will ensure that your content resonates with both BERT’s capabilities and the user’s expectations.

Voice optimisation and its importance for people with disabilities

Voice optimisation isn’t just about staying ahead in search trends, it’s about making the online world more accessible and inclusive for everyone.

For individuals with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments, voice search technology can remove barriers and has the potential to offer newfound independence in navigating the digital landscape. Here’s why it is so important.

It makes the digital world more accessible

For people with visual impairments or those who find it challenging to interact with screens, voice search serves as a game-changer. Traditional methods of accessing information through screens and visuals can be limiting for these individuals.

However, voice technology provides a seamless way to explore the online realm by simply speaking their queries. This empowerment extends beyond just search; it fosters independence, allowing people to access information, services and entertainment on their terms.

It breaks down barriers

In the past, the digital world posed significant obstacles for people with disabilities. Navigating complex menus, inputting text and deciphering visual content were major challenges. 

Voice optimisation breaks down these barriers, offering an alternative method of interaction that is intuitive and more aligned with natural communication. By catering to voice search, websites become more user-friendly, enabling those with disabilities to interact with the online space effortlessly.

It provides an inclusive online environment

When content is tailored for voice search, it ensures that people with disabilities aren’t left out of the conversation. Websites that integrate voice-friendly features demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusivity, fostering an environment where everyone’s needs are considered and accommodated.

It enhances the user experience

Voice-optimised content doesn’t just benefit people with disabilities; it enhances the experience for all users. Voice search streamlines navigation and retrieval of information, making the online journey more efficient and engaging. 

As a result, websites that prioritise voice optimisation offer a more user-centric experience, catering to a diverse audience with varying preferences and abilities.

Starting your journey with voice search optimisation

As we reach the end of our exploration into voice search optimisation, we hope you are feeling more confident with how you can incorporate these tactics into your marketing strategy. 

As you can see, it’s not just about adapting to trends, it’s about staying ahead in a world where technology aligns with human behaviour. By understanding the nuances of voice search and implementing effective strategies, we can seize the opportunity to connect with audiences on a more personal and engaging level.

The rise of voice search isn’t just a shift in technology or a new way of looking at SEO, it’s a transformation in how we interact with information. To remain relevant, inclusive and user-centric, embracing voice search optimisation is the strategic leap forward that can give you a competitive advantage and make sure you cater to all your audience.

We’ve mentioned the importance of creating and distributing high-value, relevant and professional content throughout this article, but it bears repeating. We know, it’s not always easy to deliver a content marketing strategy alone or with an in-house team that already has a lot on its plate.

Sometimes an external point of view or an extra pair of hands can make all the difference. If you would like to find out how Contentoo’s talented team of freelancers can boost your content marketing and get your brand the attention it deserves, contact us today.

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