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8 Ways to Optimize a Website for Voice Search

Hal Conick

Amazon echo on a stack of books

Voice search is becoming more popular, but websites could be doing more to optimize for queries from voice users

Keval Baxi

Voice search is what the future holds, says Keval Baxi, CEO of UX design firm Codal, at the 2019 HOW Marketing Live conference.

To meet the future, Baxi says that marketers and designers must focus on voice to ensure there’s a smooth, natural experience for voice search users. Responses must be conversational, actionable and easy to understand, he says.

Baxi says that there are eight things that brands must do when optimizing their website for voice search.

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1. Use Long-Tail Keywords

Brands must have actionable keywords and put them in the website’s schema markup, also known as code. This will allow the website to provide search engines with more information, which will be important for specific searches people make.

Baxi says that when users voice a query, the answer they receive is often not the first result on Google. Long-tail keywords can help websites be the answer that users hear when making a voice search. Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific and more targeted.

To find long-tail keywords, Baxi suggests using the tool AnswerThePublic, which populates a list of various search engine queries that came through for specific keywords.

2. Transform Queries into Questions

Instead of using “burger” as a keyword, use something that a voice search user would say, such as “Where can I find a burger near me?” This will make it more likely that your website will be the answer they hear when asking a question.

3. Optimize Your Content

Content needs to be relational and usable for voice searchers, Baxi says.

“The key metric is not to write overstuffed content,” Baxi says. Overstuffed content is trying to fit too many keywords into the content—“burger,” for example, shouldn’t become “burger,” “burgers” and “best burgers,” with many more keywords tacked on.

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4. Design for Mobile

There are no design standards for voice search, Baxi says, so mobile is the next best thing.

“You want to make sure you have your entire content on a page designed for mobile,” he says. “But the same metadata is usually utilized for voice.”

Google has a free tool to ensure a website is optimized for mobile, Baxi says, something businesses should use to ensure their website is mobile-friendly.

5. Use More Conversational Language

Baxi says that brands optimizing for voice search should make their content conversational.

6. Optimizing for Future Snippets

A Google snippet is the box that appears just under the search bar. Snippet boxes have quick-hitting information pulled from a relevant website—if you were to Google the top 15 burger restaurants in Chicago, the Google snippets box would likely include a numbered list.

Baxi says that brands should try to cater to these snippet boxes by optimizing for specific queries. STAT Search Analytics finds that 70% of Google snippets don’t come from the first organic result, so it is possible to become a snippet without having to dominate SEO rankings.

7. Polish Your ‘Google My Business’ Profile

Most voice searches are for local businesses, Baxi says—think people who want to know where the nearest gym or food court are.

For local businesses, having an updated Google My Business profile with name, hours, street address and other relevant information will increase the brand’s search ranking and traffic.

8. Localize Your Experience

“Use marketing metrics to make sure you’re targeting the right area,” Baxi says.

To optimize for local search, Baxi says that companies should:

  • Include their region in content and metadata.
  • Create location-specific pages with more than just a footer address.
  • Use visuals specific to your local area with alt-text tags.
  • Tag images and videos with the name of the geographic area.
  • If videos and audio discuss a specific location, provide a transcript to boost the website’s accessibility.

Hal Conick is a freelance writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at halconick@gmail.com or on Twitter at @HalConick.