This article will give you insights about how to optimize your website for voice search and how voice SEO is gaining more relevance in 2020. 

We’ve come such a long way. Since the days of early voice recognition as a dictation tool, through the first releases of Siri and other voice assistants, to the ever-present voice-enabled speakers we see today – we’ve watched voice shape up as a legitimate and socially accepted form of input over the past years. As the accuracy and availability develops more and more by the day, people are increasingly using their voice assistants and smart speakers to search the web.

But this presents a whole new set of challenges that you’ll need to overcome. Voice SEO doesn’t play by the same rules as regular SEO.

But there are some measures you can take to make sure this trend doesn’t leave your website at the seventh page of Google’s search results. In just a few simple steps, you can get your SEO ready for the future! Let’s first understand why voice search is important today. 

How big of a deal is voice search?

Voice Search has been around for a while, but never really taken off as a main way for people to search for things online. That’s probably because voice recognition technology hasn’t always been as accurate and fast as it’s become today. Combining that fact with the increasing presence of voice-enabled devices in the household, it’s easy to imagine that we’re going to start seeing more searches leaving the confines of text.

There is a frequently misquoted prediction that voice search will cover a whopping 50% of total searches in 2020. This forecast came from Andrew Ng, Chief Scientist at Baidu, and was specifically based on the state of voice and image search in China. The global reality, across both mobile and desktop, is a bit different. That being said, the share of voice searches is steadily growing, and to ignore its rise would be just as foolish as to parrot misinterpreted predictions.

Out of voice searches, 60% are predicted to come from screenless devices like the Amazon Echo, or Google Nest Hub. The repercussions of this are significant for SEO and keyword optimization. Where typed-out search queries are often carefully crafted and rather formal, voice searches are more conversational and casual. Most voice searches start with the word “how” and are three times more likely to be geographically specific than text searches (often ending with modifiers like “near me”). Screenless search results may also mean that search marketers need to consider how they structure their meta descriptions. Maybe we’ll even see web standards proposed to help search engines navigate and deliver voice search results. In any case, change is coming!

Voice ♥️ Screen

With the emergence of smart speakers that also have screens, we’re seeing an interesting opportunity to augment voice apps with visuals. That’s interesting because, according to Tobias Dengel of Willowtree, the average person can type 40 words per minute (wpm), but speak 130. Conversely, we can read 250 wpm, but can only listen to 130. Just based on the math here, you can see there’s a big potential for applications employing voice recognition and visuals together.

Voice SEO recommendations  

Let’s get you started with some easy first steps: 

  1. Write content in a natural, conversational tone – it’ll be more likely to match what users voice-search for
  2. Focus more on semantic search – you can read more details about this here, but generally, make sure you use your content to answer people’s questions clearly and concisely, and use internal linking strategically.
  3. Try to work more on user intent – Figure out what you users search for, and make content that answers these questions. This will increase your chances of making into to the top of Google’s search results, and maybe even to Result 0. You can do research about this using a tool like AnswerThePublic.
  4. Include longer tail keyword phrases to reach users – Extra points if everything matches up – Search query, title, body text, URL!
  5. Integrate Structured Data in your web pages to help search engines – Here’s a great blog from Yoast to help you understand how this works.
  6. Start working with SPEAKABLE property in schema.org to provide identification for sections that are suited for audio playback using text-to-speech (TTS) – this will provide a great user experience on voice-enabled devices and may lift your chances of reaching Result 0.

These few tips will already make a great effort towards making your site more future-proof. Generally though, it’s safe to say voice search is not the reason you aren’t getting enough search traffic today. First and foremost, you still need to optimize for text search, as the main search mode in 2020 – but it can never hurt to be prepared for the ever-changing future.

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