I’ll be the first to tell you that voice search takes a little practice! Recent additions of an Amazon Show, Fire TV, and an Amazon Cloud Cam had my roommate and I giving these devices all sorts of wacky requests. For literal hours, we just searched whatever came to our minds — and let me just say that we’re quite colorful thinkers… voice search ranking factors
“Alexa, just how flat is the Earth?”
“Alexa, does this look infected to you?”
“Alexa, how many U.S. presidents were Reptilian aliens?”
Needless to say, she didn’t have the range of expertise needed to deal with us lunatics. But that’s more or less a result of the technical SEO behind voice search and how people are searching! Clearly, Alexa isn’t ready to dig deeply into psychobabble. Still, for more actionable and direct search terms she’s not half bad.
Voice Search Ranking Factors
Last year in 2017, 33 million voice search devices were used by 40 percent of adults each day. Compared to its launch in 2008, Google’s voice search received 35 times more search queries in 2016. Since voice assistants have been added to more phones, TVs, and dedicated devices than ever, SEO is following suit.
The question then comes down to voice search ranking factors and what digital marketers should really be thinking about! Other reports predict that 50% of searches will be done via voice technologies, but what exactly are people searching for?
Featured Snippets are Golden
When it comes to Google Home or Google Assistant, it’s obvious that they want the top, most concise result for every voice search… Bring in the featured snippets! This “position zero” on SERPs is what most people want regardless, but now it’s recognized as one of the most significant voice search ranking factors. At the moment and like many things in Google’s kingdom, there aren’t definitive answers on how to achieve these snippets. That said, lots of research has been done with this in mind. Some methods include:
• Answering Specific Queries: Generally, voice searches consist of simple, everyday types of questions. If you know that a piece of content is generally geared toward questions easily searched for using a voice assistant, then your keywords and H2 tags should reflect this. Directly following those optimized tags and phrases should be your featured snipped text.
• Answering Queries Specifically: Not only should the questions you answer be specific, but that goes for your answers too. Google wants the cleanest, most acceptable answer possible because they’re kind of putting their name behind it with the whole featured thing. Answers provided as lists are also particularly savory to their algorithm.
• Write Content for the First Page: Yes, I realize that’s like telling a sports team to “win the damn game,” but seriously it’s kind of the point. If the rest of your content and page aren’t optimized overall, getting a featured snipped won’t really be within reach. Voice search ranking factors follow most of the same rules for general SEO, but really it needs to fit the form and function of the content you’re writing at that moment.
Local SEO is a Must
Another one of the voice search ranking factors to consider is local SEO. While it doesn’t apply to companies who work with remote, national clients, brick-and-mortar businesses will definitely need to pull out all the stops.
One of the main ways companies achieve this is through focusing on their Google My Business Pages are as good as they can be. That obviously means having the correct address, contact details, and opening hours. In turn, this will translate into significant voice search ranking factors. When people ask “Alexa, where is the nearest liquor store,” or “what are some local movie theaters” you’ll be set!
Optimizing for local searches also includes garnering positive online reviews, all in addition to using structured data markup or Schema.
Focus a Bit on Semantics
The very basics of voice search ranking factors rely on an understanding of the minds of your searchers. Are they asking questions about your products? Are they requesting information? Do they need to know your business hours? For a while, we’ve thought about voice search as being very short-tail phrases.
However, as people become more comfortable with these devices, the tone is becoming more conversational. Voice search certainly needs to incorporate more long-tail keyword phrases while keeping queries conversational. Using sites like AnswerThePublic or Moz’s Keyword Explorer are great ways to start learning what people are actually searching for and how easily you can begin ranking.
Ultimately, it’s about pinpointing exactly what people are going to search for with their voice, and doing whatever possible to get those rich snippets!
Any success with voice search ranking factors? Let us know in the comments below!