With the rise of digital voice assistants in the home and on mobile phones, search engine optimization is being revolutionized by voice search. Between 20 and 25 percent of Google’s search is voice based, and growing. It’s a trend that is impacting your content and website performance right now. So let’s take a look at everything you need to know about voice search.

The Rise of the Virtual Assistant

Almost half of adults in the United States use voice-controlled digital assistants today: whether on mobile, computers, or devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. These voice-enabled smart speakers are expected to penetrate 55 percent of U.S. households by 2022. And all of these voice assistants are leading to more is voice search, which impacts companies of all sizes.

People search for things differently when they use their voice. For one thing, people search in complete sentences when they use their voice, like a conversation. They ask questions. They can’t scroll to find the right answers. So what impact does this behavior have on your content?

Search Like a Local

Since 2013’s Hummingbird update, all search inquiries on Google are local and searches that contained the phrase “near me” has increased 130%. And, as we have reported before, many people will purchase from a store they found in their search. So it’s important to your bottom line to capture these local searches.

Start looking at phrases people use to describe the location of your business aside from the address. Is there local name for the neighborhood? Are there any popular landmarks or attractions nearby? When you’ve compiled a list, add that information to your “About Us” page and you can start capturing searches like, “Siri, where’s an ice cream shop in Five Points?”

With voice search, people can’t go to your webpage to find your phone number, address, or hours of operation. That means, if you haven’t already, you need to claim your Google My Business listing and keep the information up-to-date.

For a bonus, be sure to add “near me” to all your tags. You should be doing this anyway given the Hummingbird effect outlined above, but if you haven’t already, now’s the time in order to increase your chances of getting found in the voice search results.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Voice search queries tend to be longer, and are more likely to be in the form of a question. That means when you’re optimizing your content for voice search, you can use this to your advantage. For a quick win, figure out which voice search terms you should be considering based on your existing keywords by using a tool like Answer the Public. Then, take your existing FAQs on products or categories, and update them to include these new phrases. Now, go further by creating a blog post on each of your FAQs to really provide valuable insights to your audience while peppering in these new, often longer, voice search keywords throughout the post.

Behind the Curtain

To really nail voice search, you have to work behind the scenes of your website so spiders can easily find what people are voice-searching on. Start by adding frequently searched information right into your structured data, or schema markup. While you’re under the hood, it’s a great time to update your metadata too so websites know how to organize the data on your website.

Optimizing your website for voice search is a process but one that if you start now you can begin reaping the voice search whirlwind.

Image: StockUnlimited