OK Google: How to appear for Voice Searches?
41% of adults use voice search at least once per day.
UPDATE MAY 2020: So, it is 2020 now. Was Comscore right? Unfortunately, there has been no research to confirm or dismiss the prediction. However, Adobe has released results highlighting 48% of consumers as using voice technology to some degree – from driving directions to web searches. Whilst this isn’t the “50% of every search being a voice search”, it does show a high market penetration of the technology.
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Ah. Yes. These figures. If you’ve read anything about voice search, it’s likely you’ve come across these statistics already.
Honestly, it’s probably worth taking those figures with a pinch of salt. Why?
Because voice searches are 3 times more likely to be local-based searches than anything else.
For example, finding the answer to “what’s the weather like today?” rather than “what was Wittgenstein’s impact upon modern philosophy in the early 20th century?”.
And this truth can easily be hidden in the crazy statistics that “50% of searches are done by voice”. It ignores the type of searches that are being done via voice.
People typically don’t use voice search when searching for a detailed answer. It’s for assisting people with their everyday routine. Turning on lights. Playing music. Finding out the latest headlines or weather.
That said, if your business is not gearing up for voice searches, you’re seriously doing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) wrong.
Because the answers for voice searches are the result of businesses practising good SEO.
And if your business isn’t engaging in SEO then you’re missing out on all sorts of opportunities.
You see. Whilst voice searches may not benefit your business directly, the techniques used to appear for voice searches will impact your organic SEO rankings. This is because Google uses the results from search results for their voice search results.
Have you seen results like this on Google?
You most likely have. These are called featured snippets. Google introduced these as a way to deliver you the most relevant answer or information to your queries.
So, when you ask a question to your Google Home or Assistant, Google will attempt to answer it using a featured snippet.
But where does Google get the information for featured snippets?
The answers come from individual websites on the internet. Google will identify which website delivers the best answer or result in relation to the search.
If the information (and the website that it’s hosted on) meets Google’s criteria for quality, then that site will be showcased in the featured snippet on Google’s search results.
Google’s aim for featured snippets is to deliver relevant information, without the need to click into a website and/or search through a website to find that same information.
However, being in a featured snippet position does mean you get more traffic compared to appearing anywhere else in Google’s organic search results.
A featured snippet position also gives you a far greater chance of appearing for Google voice searches.
To summarise – to appear for voice searches you need to concentrate on delivering high-quality SEO. This will give your website a greater chance to appear in a featured snippet.
But… How can you get your site into a featured snippet?
It’s hard to give an absolute answer as Google does like to keep things vague. But these tips have been proven by our in-house team to achieve featured snippet status.
Tip #1 – Be relevant.
To appear in a featured snippet, you need to be relevant. You need to be there when your potential audience searches a question in your field.
You need to answer people’s queries better than anyone else.
But what are people searching?
Fortunately for you, there’s a whole bunch of free tools out there that will tell you what people are searching.
Alternatively, if these tools confuse you too much, you can simply insert a question related to your business into Google. Ideally, your search result will return with a list of ‘People also ask’ questions.
Use these to see what type of questions people are asking.
From here you can start building content that answers these queries.
If you’re super switched on, you might have realised that you can see which competitor already appears in a featured snippet. Armed with this information, you can now write content that kicks that content’s ass!
Tip #2 – Set up an FAQ
I love FAQ sections on websites and recommend them to – well – pretty much every client.
You see, FAQs are a perfect response to the ultimate UX (User Experience) & SEO conflict.
Firstly, they deliver relevant information to your visitors in an easy, concise way that’s easy for them to scan read. This allows you to design a website that meets strong UX principles.
Secondly, FAQ sections allow you to cram loads of keywords & phrases into your website content. Meaning you meet SEO requirements.
As a result, an FAQ section allows you to have lots of relevant information on a page, but without jeopardising the integrity of your design or the user experience.
But what do you include in an FAQ section that’s useful to your visitors?
Easy. Take the research you found from tip #1 above. Use this to structure your FAQ section.
Concentrate on crafting answers based on questions that your research has discovered. What you’re achieving when doing this is answering the questions that you know people are searching for. Therefore, you have a better chance of appearing when people search for those questions.
Tip #3 – Website Formatting
Be warned. Not only does the content matter. You also need to bear in mind how it is formatted.
At this stage, you may need help from your web developer, as we’re venturing into some coding now…
There are 3 key things to remember for the formatting of your FAQ section.
1. The questions must have a header tag around them. You’ll want to use one that is applicable to the structure of the page. So, it’s possible you’re looking at using h3 tags rather than h2 or h1. This is because your h1 and h2 tags should be headings for other sections of your content.
2. The answers must be in paragraph tags. Having the answers wrapped in paragraph tags allows Google to be able to differential between the question and the answer.
3. Keep the word count down! Your mission is to provide an answer that is relevant. Keeping the word count down is key as it stops you introducing unnecessary words – or ‘fluff’. Additionally, the average length of a featured snippet is 45 words. Therefore, you’ll want to keep that in mind when providing answers. We recommend a word count of between 40 – 70 words.
Following these tips can give you a better chance of appearing in a featured snippet. It’s worth noting though that a lot of different factors can influence whether a snippet appears or not and who gets the golden chance of appearing in it.
Whether you’re aiming for your business to appear in voice searches or in a featured snippet, the key to everything SEO related these days is to be relevant. Be useful to your website visitors.
If you’re not providing the answers they seek, someone else certainly is.