Voice Search technologies have been around for quite a while getting their start in the 1950s and 1960s. Over the next few decades, speech recognition technologies continued to expand and improve but have somewhat plateaued until the release of Google Voice Search and Siri.
Fun Fact: Siri was released as a stand-alone app for iOS in 2010 before being acquired by Apple and re-released as the digital assistant we all know and love with the iPhone 4s in October of 2011. Learn more! History of Voice Recognition: from Audrey to Siri
Now we have digital assistants to help us in many forms that range from our smart-phones to our Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or our Apple TV remotes. These devices have thrown open the gates to a whole new world of optimizing content for users who start their “search journey” with their voice instead of their fingers.
How do I optimize my website content for voice search?
If you are like me, you may lay awake at night thinking about just how your website content can be the “answer” that Siri or Google provides as the result of a voice query.
To start, shoot for Position 0.
What is Position 0?
Position 0, more formally known as a “Featured Snippet,” appears before the standard organic search results.
Example of Position 0:
How does Position 0 apply to Voice Search?
According to Dr. Peter J. Meyers of MOZ, who tested 1,000 voice searches manually on his Google Home device (read more here), about 70% of the searches that contained a feature snippet (Position 0) returned that same snippet as the voice search result.
This very quickly and easily highlights the effectiveness of being considered the authority on a specific search query by Google and other digital assistants as it affects both the normal search environment on desktop and mobile devices and is used 7 out of 10 times as the voice search result.
How do I optimize my website content for Position 0?
As per usual, Google has not released any specific tips or tricks to get your website to appear as the Featured Snippet. However, we know that Google wants to be able to provide the best answer to their “customer”, the searcher, and their goal has been to understand and deliver the results as “naturally” as possible.
Below are a few examples of areas that you can focus on when optimizing your website for voice search.
- Review Website Content – The first thing that you should do is identify the “questions” that a potential visitor to your website or brick and mortar might be asking. It could be, “Why is the sky blue?” or “Where is the best drive-thru coffee stand near me?”. You can also use keyword research tools to identify trends in search terms that your website already ranks for in an effort to develop questions around these terms and expand the content around these topics to support the existing keyword ranking while trying to capture Position 0.
- Content Structure – Once you determine the topics that you feel you can own, structure the content to effectively answer the question. Your page content should be extensive and thorough, but make sure you answer the main question at the top of the page in a very concise way so a visitor, as well as Google, can easily identify the question and answer on the page without having to dig for it.
- HTML Structure – Using the proper HTML structure in your web page to “outline” the content of the page to the search engines can help them more easily identify the “question” and “answer” in your content.
These are some of the areas that we look at when deliver our Voice Search Optimization Strategy to our clients in an effort to expand their visibility and reach in the organic search results on desktop and mobile devices as well as digital assistants.
Some of the additional benefits you can find through voice search optimization is that it helps you identify what your future customers or clients are actually searching for which can help you develop your ongoing Social Media, SEO, and Paid Media campaign efforts. It also is a way to consistently generate properly structured content that can be added to a website on a regular basis, in addition to your other ongoing content efforts, i.e. blog posts.
In summary, Voice Search is definitely here to stay and as further advancements are made with voice search and speech recognition technology. Developing the content of your website to support voice search queries and win the Position 0 placement should be an ongoing focus of your SEO efforts.