As we increasingly embrace the “smart home” revolution, we’re also becoming more and more reliant on voice search for information.
We “ask” Google, Siri, Alexa, and Cortana for local store hours, the best restaurants near us, and even for prices of products we want to buy.
These powerful digital assistants use natural language processing and artificial intelligence to understand the way we speak and the way we ask questions in order to provide the most relevant and accurate answers.
Here are just a few incredible statistics that confirm the rising popularity of voice search:
- Around 60.5 million people use voice search for basic tasks in the U.S.
- Approximately 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search at least once a day.
- It’s predicted 75% of US homes will have a smart speaker by 2020.
Regardless of whether your business is local or entirely online, it’s important to start optimizing your site and content writing for the millions of voice searches that now take place every day.
Here are a few steps to get started.
1. Read your content out loud
One of the best ways to start optimizing your content for voice search is to consider how your writing sounds when reading it out loud.
Does your writing sound choppy or too wordy? Does it answer a specific question?
You’ll also want to consider how your content is organized on a page.
For example, if you are writing an article in which most of the information is laid out in a table or a list of links, this probably won’t work well for a voice search.
There are a few simple ways to hear what your content sounds like before publishing it. TTSReader is a free web app that offers a wide variety of voices and reading speeds.
Alternatively, you can use the built-in “Speech > Start Speaking” function from the drop-down menu if you’re using a Mac.
2. Structured data is your friend
To optimize your content for voice search, you need to make it easy for Google to understand what your site, or a page on your site, is all about using structured data.
Structured data is a form of HTML that you can embed into your site’s code to help both search engines and voice searchers find your content more easily.
That said, you don’t need to go crazy marking up everything on your site. Instead, identify which information people might be searching for using voice assistants, and highlight that information with structured data.
For instance, popular topics that consumers often use voice search for include:
To learn more about how to apply structured data on your website, visit schema.org.
3. Avoid over-optimization
While short, direct paragraphs are important for voice search, it’s also important not to “over do it.”
Creating a dozen pages on your site with short answers targeting very specific queries will do more harm than good.
In fact, Google will consider your site to have little to no value, and it won’t show up in search results.
The average word count of pages used to draw voice search results is 2,312 words.
This suggests Google wants to pull results from authoritative pages. Therefore, a better strategy is to have a shorter section that answers a specific question accompanied by a longer section or full page of helpful, in-depth information.
Voice search is here to stay
The way we search for things online is evolving quickly. Focus on writing high-quality, content that sounds natural and answers specific questions, and you’ll have no problem getting in front of the millions of people who are now using voice search and voice assistants on a daily basis.