Jack Goldsmith
Jack Goldsmith Senior SEO Strategist

How to prepare your website for voice search 2018

Jack Goldsmith
Jack Goldsmith Senior SEO Strategist

It’s universally acknowledged that a high loading speed makes for a good user experience, with Google’s page speed update demonstrating their commitment to this as a ranking signal.

Page speed became a mobile search ranking factor on 9th July 2018 and will therefore impact voice search on both mediums.

Purna Virji, Microsoft senior training manager, argues that the importance of good page speed in voice search reflects the swiftness of speech (up to 150 words per minute) in comparison with typing (up to 40 words per minute for the average user). People speak quickly and they want voice search responses to be equally fast.

Voice searches have an average result page loading time of 4.6 seconds and a time to first byte (TTFB) of .54 seconds in comparison to the worldwide average of 2.1 seconds. This equates to a 52% increase in speed – a drastic reduction in loading time.

It is clear that increasing page speed is vital in order to improve user experience in response to voice search queries. Aim to have a page speed of less than 5 seconds to increase your chances of a high rank in SERPs.

HTTPS – make your website secure

Brian Dean of Backlinko draws attention to the fact that in voice search, HTTPS-secured websites dominate, with 70.4% of voice search URLs making use of HTTPS in contrast with 50% of desktop results on the first page of Google.

This has led to speculation that HTTPS is more important to voice search optimisation than it is to any other kind of search. Although it is impossible to confirm at this stage, HTTPS implementation is highly recommended when optimising for voice search.

Optimise for voice search queries

On average, voice searches are 76.1% longer than a Google text search. This reflects increased speech speed in comparison to typing, but it’s also due to the fact that voice search queries have an increased likelihood of being phrased as questions, with a 61% growth in queries that include the words:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?
  6. How?

Bearing this in mind, you should incorporate answering industry-relevant questions into your optimisation strategy. Your targeted content should take the form of in-depth guides or ‘how tos’ in response to questions. High quality copy is required to provide an authoritative answer.

Emphasis should be placed on long tail keywords – which offer higher intent and conversion rates along with reduced competitiveness – instead of the concise phrasing of text searches.

Overall, SEOs optimising for voice search should thus be aware that they will be targeting an increasingly niche demographic, as opposed to general search terms.

With the increased emphasis on speed, the importance of good content structure is increasing, the better to provide users with the most concise and easy-to-digest answer possible.

Successful formats include:

  1. Tables
  2. Graphs
  3. Summaries
  4. Lists

Optimising for featured snippets has never been so crucial to an optimal SEO strategy. This owes in part to the increased power of summaries in voice search-led content, in addition to voice searches achieving a higher percentage of featured snippets – 43.3% in comparison with 40.6% for text queries.

For this reason – as discussed by SEM Post founder Jennifer Slegg – voice search can reinforce your brand. When a voice search query arrives at a featured snippet, Google responds by reading it aloud, along with the name of the origin site, for example:

  1. ‘According to (site)…’
  2. ‘We found this information on (site)…’
  3. ‘On the website (site), they say: …’

The average length of a voice search result is 29 words, so when optimising ensure that your answer snippets are around this size.

Markup your content

The use of schema markup in page optimisation has not been widely adopted; certainly it is not implemented as widely as it could be in relation to voice search queries.

Schema implements microdata tags in HTML and is designed to give search engines an increased awareness of the meaning and purpose of your content. It can be used to display rich snippets such as ratings and publication dates that enhance user experience.

Schema markup can be deployed in 3 coding languages:

  1. Microdata
  2. JSON-LD
  3. RDFa

The recommended method is to deploy schema in JSON-LD and integrate it into your website code for crawlers to auto-populate each field.

Content such as recipes and products are popular types of markup as they include aggregate ratings that are pulled into the search results to answer user’s voice queries. This can provide a competitive edge and increases your chances of your content ranking higher.

Google My Business Profile

A great number of voice search queries pertain to location. Benu Aggarwal, President of Milestone Inc., stated that 82% of mobile search is local and these statistics are likely to be even higher for voice search, so local SEO optimisation is crucial in order to ensure your business is visible to searchers.

In order to drive traffic from local voice searches, make sure that your company is listed on Google My Business (GMB). It should be well-optimised and contain key information, for the benefit of both searcher and search engines.

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