Optimizing Your Website for Voice Interaction

Image of an Amazon Alexa device sitting on a table with a dark overlay

Although relatively new to the technology industry, voice search is no longer a trend to watch for the future—it’s a present reality that statistics show is here to stay. In fact, 60% of smartphone users have used voice search one or more times in the past year, and 55% of teenagers use voice search daily. With younger generations already invested in voice search and households consistently adding smart home speakers, voice user interfaces are on the rise and set to revolutionize digital marketing. That means if your website isn’t optimized for voice searches, you need to start rethinking how you push content to your users.

60% of smartphone users have used voice search one or more times in the past year, and 55% of teenagers use voice search daily.

Quoracreative.com

Voice searches differ from text searches in that they use conversational tones and speech patterns. When typing a search, users may only use two or three keywords, but when searching by voice, queries tend to be longer (three to five keywords) and in the form of a question. Additionally, voice user interfaces differ from graphical interfaces in that users cannot see the options and navigation.

These unconscious behavioral changes have resulted in the need for websites to be written and designed in a manner conducive for voice searches. It’s not as hard as it may seem at first, though. The following tips require minimal effort but could have a large effect on the way your site is accessed by voice search.

  • Write content in a conversational tone
    Consider the natural patterns of speech and how people communicate with their voices. Voice searches differ from text searches because they tend to be longer and in the form of a question. Content, then, should be written in a concise manner that answers these questions in context.
     

  • Limit the amount of information
    Users are listening rather than reading, so they may easily become confused or forget where they are in the process. Remember they cannot scroll back up to reference previous information or see where they are in the navigation—keep information short, to the point and with clear instructions.
     

  • Focus more on user intent than on keywords
    Voice searches are based less on keywords and more on semantics, so content should be geared towards answering questions. Online content must anticipate the stages of user intent and provide the appropriate  information needed to make a decision. Some easy ways to do this are to add an FAQ page and/or a blog.
     

  • Update paid keywords to include long-tail keywords
    Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases. Since voice searches tend to be longer and more specific, keywords should be too in order to appeal to users who are closer to a point-of-purchase.
     

  • Keep contact and location information up to date
    Voice searches tend to be more local: searching for restaurants, hotels, coffeeshops, etc. Thus, businesses should optimize their content for a local audience by first making sure contact and location information is correct and then by writing content that makes the business a local authority or staple—having the “best burger” in town or the “largest selection” of kids’ clothes.

     
  • Integrate structured data
    Structured data exists on the backend of a site in the form of code written to provide search engines with clues about the meaning of a page. By helping search engines better understand and crawl your data more efficiently, you can increase the odds of your search results improving. With the rise of voice searches that do not give users a list from which to choose, your search results will likely become more important than ever before because if you’re not at the top of the results list, you get no traffic.

The key to optimizing sites for voice searches is to provide relevant, meaningful content that doesn’t overwhelm the user. To do this, sites need to be mobile friendly, load quickly and contain useful information that answers voice search queries. If you need assistance updating your site, give us a call. We can work with you on your content and/or your site’s functionality to put you in a better position for meeting the needs of voice search users.

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