Jeff Shipman

Voice SEO

Marketing your business can be an incredibly complex process. With so many marketing channels of which to keep track of, it can be challenging to know what to prioritize.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, continues to be a vital part of any digital marketing plan. When you utilize SEO, you’re able to provide information about relevance and context to search engines. They, in turn, will gain a more complete understanding of what your website has to offer and will subsequently provide your site as a possible solution to web searchers looking for answers. 

By properly optimizing your website and keeping track of SEO performance, you can earn a more coveted position in search engine results pages (SERPs) and a larger portion of organic traffic share.

To get the most out of your strategy, it’s essential to stay on top of the latest developments in SEO. In recent years, voice SEO has emerged as a trend to watch due to how consumers have embraced voice-enabled devices and voice search technology. 

Let’s take a closer look at voice SEO and its impact on marketing in 2021 and beyond. You’ll soon see why it’s critical that you explore the most effective types of voice SEO and include them in your strategy.

What is Voice Search Optimization?

First, we need to discuss voice search technology and how it’s being used to perform web searches.

Voice-enabled technologies aren’t exactly new. Voice search is one kind of dialog system, which involves interaction between a human and a computer. In a voice-powered search, the user can search a website, an app, or the whole of the internet by speaking commands into a device. 

The most common examples of these technologies in action? When we ask Siri, Alexa, or Google Home to find out information for us. 

Whether we use a voice command to summon a digital assistant or tap a button on our screens that prompts us to start talking, it takes minimal effort to utilize voice search technology. That’s one reason voice-enabled technology has become so popular, particularly for users on the go.

With that in mind, what is voice search optimization? It’s a particular kind of SEO that’s meant to target those who are utilizing these voice-powered technologies. While voice SEO doesn’t discount people who perform traditional web searches on their desktop or laptop computers, it’s geared toward mobile users who search for information via voice. 

While there aren’t necessarily different types of voice SEO, there are different ways to optimize for voice search. And because consumers interact with search engines differently when voice-powered technologies are added into the equation, it’s imperative that your strategy includes optimizations that are specific to voice search. We’ll talk about why that is below.

Why Does Voice SEO Matter?

You might be asking yourself, does SEO still work in 2021? Should it even be part of my marketing strategy? The answer is a resounding “yes.” 

According to BrightEdge, organic search is still the number one source of trackable web traffic. It drives 1,000% more traffic than organic social media and far outpaces paid search, as well. And if you want to appear in organic search results, expert SEO analysis tells us that you need to include both on-site and off-site optimization as part of your marketing strategy.

That said, SEO performance and strategy have evolved quite a bit over the years. In 2021, voice search content plays a more prominent role than ever. 

That’s because voice-powered searches have become incredibly commonplace. In fact, Search Engine Watch found that approximately 20% of survey respondents used voice search technology on a weekly basis, while PwC revealed that 65% of consumers between the ages of 25 and 49 speak to their voice-enabled mobile devices every day.

Want to know why voice search is becoming so popular? Statista compiled a number of reasons why web users have readily embraced this technology:

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Ultimately, the prevalence of voice-powered search is a result of our ever-increasing mobile device use. Since more than half of all web traffic came from mobile devices in 2016, according to Think With Google, it’s clear that most of us use our smartphones to access the internet and find the solutions we need.  

Mobile search and voice-powered search have had a profound impact on the way we look for information, products, and services. If you fail to optimize your website properly for mobile and voice SEO, you’ll likely struggle to achieve your ranking goals. 

That’s because Google wants to provide web searchers with the most relevant and useful information possible. In particular, Google cares about the mobile user experience (as evidenced by recent algorithm updates). Now, Google indexes the mobile versions of web pages first and gives preferential treatment to sites that load quickly and provide a consistent experience across all devices. 

And if you take the extra step to optimize for voice search technology, you’ll be more likely to outpace your competition. As we’ll discuss in the next section, the way we use voice-powered search differs from traditional search – so your optimized voice search content will also need to evolve if you want to compete.

Has Voice Search Technology Changed SEO Forever?

If you’re curious about how SEO has changed in 2021, voice search and mobile search act as driving forces.

That’s not to say that web users have given up on typing in search queries. Conventional web searches are still being used and continue to be more popular than voice-powered searches. As such, you’ll still want to optimize more conventionally.

But you’ll also want to add voice search into the mix. With so many people using voice-powered device features, businesses need to pivot their marketing efforts to reach these customers effectively.

For those who want to know more about voice search in 2021 and its impact on search queries, it’s critical that you understand how consumers interact with this technology (and how it differs from traditional web search). 

When you perform a web search on a computer, you’re more likely to type three to five words into the search bar. It’s far more common to see segmented phrases than complete sentences. Most of us will choose the strongest words to include to provide context, as this gives the highest chance of yielding relevant results.

Voice-powered searches, for example, tend to be more conversational than traditional web searches. When you speak to Alexa or Siri, you’re likely to express yourself in a more natural way. This means you’ll probably use complete sentences and ask questions rather than select only a few words. 

Although keyword research still matters for voice SEO, it’s more about the way you express the information. If you know how a question or a search is most likely to be phrased in a verbal sense, you’ll increase your chances of appearing in a voice-powered search. 

While you don’t have to abandon keyword usage and other traditional SEO concepts, you’ll want to add voice search optimizations to your efforts. That way, you’ll have the ability to appeal to potential customers across all devices and will generally increase your chances of appearing in SERPs.

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How Can You Develop a Voice SEO Strategy For 2021?

Now that you understand the importance of voice-powered search, it’s time to start implementing some voice search SEO strategies as part of your digital marketing efforts. Here’s what we suggest you focus on when developing your voice SEO strategy for 2021.

1. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly: Before you start optimizing your site, you’ll need to make sure that it’s as accessible and responsive as possible. We know that Google cares immensely about user experience (UX), especially for mobile users. And since the vast majority of those who use voice search are doing so on their mobile devices, your site must be mobile-friendly. Focus on speed, security, and consistency to improve UX. By doing so, you’ll have a stronger foundation for voice search optimization.

2. Take Advantage of Local Listings: Off-site SEO can increase your brand visibility in SERPs, too. Local listings directories and platforms like Google My Business (GMB) should be part of your strategy. Voice searchers frequently look for solutions nearby, evidenced by the sheer volume of searches that contain the words “near me.” Ensuring your business and website are listed in these directories can help your brand appear in mobile and voice-powered searches while increasing your overall web presence.

3. Add an FAQ Page: Because voice searches are often phrased as questions, it makes sense to add a page to your website that features queries your customers are most likely to ask. “Who,” “what,” “where,” “why,” and “how” are often used to start these voice searches, while filler words like “the,” “and,” “but,” “of the,” “on the,” and “for” are regularly included. Research what your customers really want to know, and remember to write how we speak!

4. Use Long-Tail Keywords: As mentioned earlier, conventional searches tend to be short and sweet. But Search Engine Watch recently reported that the average voice search is almost 30 words long! Long-tail keywords are more specific and may come with a lower search volume, but they’re better aligned with customer intent. That means they tend to have higher conversion rates. As natural language processing improves, so will Google’s ability to recommend results based on context and conversational tone.

5. Don’t Forget Schema Markup: Schema markup is basically invisible code that can help search engines understand what a web page is all about. It provides additional meaning and context to bots that crawl websites, which can help search engines deliver content with more value and relevance. Since schema markup can assist search engines in understanding language, you’ll want to include it when optimizing for voice search to cut down on confusion.

Don’t Wait to Try Voice Search Optimization

So does SEO still work in 2021? Absolutely – especially if you’re embracing voice search concepts. Regardless of your industry, you need to know how to create an effective SEO strategy for 2021 and beyond. At a time when smartphone use is nearly ubiquitous, and mobile web traffic is at an all-time high, you can’t ignore the need for voice SEO. 

Voice SEO and its impact on marketing in 2021 is undeniable. By including these voice search optimization tactics as part of your digital marketing strategy, you’ll be in a better position to reach your customers – wherever they are. 

Jeff Shipman

Jeff Shipman is the Director of Marketing Innovation at Semify, a white label marketing agency based in Rochester, New York. Semify provides quality SEO and PPC fulfillment solutions at-cost to help digital marketing agency owners achieve their dreams. Before moving to Western New York, Jeff earned a BA in History and an MBA at St. Bonaventure University. Go Bonnies!

Posted in Guest Articles By Jeff Shipman   Date September 8, 2021

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