How to Optimize Your Site for Google Voice Search

“Hey, Siri, where’s the closest burger joint?”

“Alexa, who has the most lifetime homeruns?”

“OK Google, how does celery grow?”

It’s increasingly easier to literally give voice to the questions in your head.

People are asking the questions: does your website give them the answers?

And if not, why not?

Here are the best ways to optimize your site for Google voice search.

Google Voice SEO

Google voice search, in the beginning

Voice recognition software isn’t exactly new. It was actually invented in the 1950’s.

Fast forward fifty years, and Google Voice Search is released by Google Labs.

Over the last 15 years, Google has merged it with its various products. Then it became the voice search for Android.

Now things were starting to get interesting.

Smart assistants today

Initially, voice recognition wasn’t so hot.

You’d say maps and you might get a map. Or a hat.

Or possibly a chicken-related result, it was hard to tell.

But things improved quickly. Google’s accuracy is up an astounding 92% in just a few years.

And as with all things technology, there’s now more than one way to find that map. There is a range of things you can operate by just talking to them.

Apple has Siri, Windows has Cortana, and Google has well, Google.

Amazon has even gotten into the game with Alexa.

(And not to be left behind, Google created Google Home.)

Research shows that in 2015, voice searches jumped from basically zero to 50 billion.

But how can you make sure that if someone is using voice search that they are finding you?

Keywords and voice search

For years, we’ve optimized sites according to keyword searches.

We’ve used tools like Google Adwords to figure out what people are searching. And you want to continue doing that (here’s our free tool that can help).

But, you also need to optimize for voice search.

That means changing up how you think about keywords.

People speak differently than they search using a keyboard.

To understand that, first, let’s…

Try being a human

That probably sounds a little strange, but go with it for a second. Up until now, we’ve used SEO phrases that were sometimes a little odd sounding.

You might be thinking something like:

“How much is airfare to France in May?”

What you typed into Google was probably closer to:

“airfare France May”

Which also means that that’s the SEO phrase you’ve likely used in your content. For Google voice search, you might try using the longer phrase for better results.

But how do you figure out what those questions are customers could be asking?

Listening can help

If your business has direct contact with customers, start listening to them.

Read through your social media feeds for clues. See how they talk about your business.

Is it different than you thought? Make adjustments to your content based on what you learn.

If you don’t have face-to-face (or even voice-to-voice) contact, you’re not out of luck.

Try a business networking event or other activity. Take note of the questions people ask you about your business, and how they ask.

Even lists of the funny ways people use Google voice search can be useful.

If humor works with your brand, you could use those to add a little fun to your FAQs.

If all else fails, read the manual

Who knows Google voice search better than the people who made it?

Try reading their ways to use voice for tips on how to structure your keyword phrases.

Now what?

You’ve got a good grip on what words and questions you want to use.

Here’s what you need to do now.

Mobile friendly isn’t optional anymore

It may seem obvious, but we’ll say it just in case:

Your site has to be mobile optimized to rank well.

If you’re not sure if your site is or haven’t checked recently, Google has a tool to help. They’ll even give you suggestions to improve what’s not so great.

Make sure the things that people regularly search for (address and phone) are text.

An image (say, your logo with that info) won’t be found by the bots. This is especially key if local search is important to you.

“Near me” is the end of nearly every search question when customers are searching locally.

If you want people to find you, make sure your name, address, and phone are clear.

Speed things up

Along with having the right info, a fast loading page is key. And by fast, Google means instantaneously.

Meet the newest Google tool, Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP.

AMP is quickly becoming (see what we did there?) the way to get returning users and fast page loads.

Get your site AMP’d in six painless steps.

Easy ways to use keyword phrases

A quick way to start using these longer question-style keywords is on your FAQ page.

Make a list of the ones you want to use, write the answers and you’re ready. You can take that same list and use it in your content, too.

You may find it’s more natural to write, “What’s the best price on carpet?” than “carpet best price” in your blog posts.

Test it out

After you’ve made changes, make sure you’re testing them.

If you don’t own an Android phone you can use to test, it’s a cheap investment. Start saying, “OK Google” and asking it questions about your business.

But wait, there’s more

You’re testing out your queries, great.

But instead of your company, the results are coming up with things like Yelp lists or Facebook.

Lists of businesses that should include yours, but don’t. Make sure you’re ranking on those pages, too.

Buying advertising, or building your check-ins and reviews are ways to do that.

Just make sure to play by the platform’s terms of service (i.e., soliciting reviews, etc.).

How we can help

We have a variety of tools to help you with your SEO strategy.

From content writing to backlink building we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re a pro with SEO or a newbie, we can give you the help you need.