Who are we kidding? We live in an era where technology is evolving at an unprecedented speed. What some predicted, and only few of us could have ever imagined, has become our reality. One thing that is now a part the daily life of millions of people? Voice activated assistants. There are many devices that we use on a daily basis that are equipped with voice assistants. From Google Assistant, to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa – voice assistants are not only on our phones, but also inside smart speakers in our home. It’s safe to say that the way we interact with technology has been changed with voice assistants. We use voice activated devices to shop for items, control our home, get directions, or even play music. And isn’t that the dream for anyone wanting to simplify their daily routines? So now, let’s take a step back to look at how we search the web.

How do we search?

The most popular way of searching the web to date is still typed searched and that is not due to change anytime soon. In addition to typed search, voice search through voice activated assistants has been increasing over the past few years. However, many websites owners have continued to focus on optimizing websites for typed search and have not yet started the voice search optimization. A big reason for this? Not every type of content is relevant for voice search. When preforming a voice search the user has a clear goal in mind – such as looking for instructions (i.e. how to make cold brew coffee), finding a restaurant nearby, or checking a fact.

From the above, you might draw the conclusion that optimizing for voice search is not relevant to every business, which would be safe assumption to make. Voice search will be most relevant to local business or websites / apps offering specific services. Now, if voice search is relevant to your business, you might be asking yourself what the difference is between in the way people perform typed and voice searches. Wouldn’t the keywords used in searches remain the same? Well, it’s not exactly that simple. 

Text vs. Voice Search

We tend to forget that voice searches differ widely from text searches. Although voice command has been around for a while (through programs like speech-to-text), devices using voice for online searches have only become a part of our daily routine over the past few years.  

Generally, we have been able to observe that voice searches tend to be longer than traditional typed searches and tend to heavily mirror an in-person conversation. A voice search would resemble the way we would speak to other humans much more than a typed search would. 

While a classic typed search might look something like this…

“Italian restaurant near me”

… a voice search look a lot more like this:

“What is one of the top-rated Italian restaurants in my area?”

Ultimately, this means that not only will the keywords be more conversational, but also a lot more descriptive. 

So, if you still feel that voice search is something that is relevant for your website, you will need to determine if you want to optimize your current site for voice search or if you would like to create a whole other content strategy tailored only to voice search. Keeping in mind that text search is still widely more popular than voice search, you may want to start by making small changes to your site before turning your whole site upside down. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few tips on how you could optimize your current site for voice searches without reinventing the wheel.

Optimizing your site for voice search

  1. Optimize your site for mobile:It is widely known that voice searches tend to load twice as fast as typed searches. To keep up with the required speed, you may want to look at optimizing your site for mobile by using accelerated mobile pages (AMP). Not only will your AMPs load a lot faster than regular pages, the content display on there can also vary from your regular content. Ultimately, creating AMPs for your site will allow you to structure your content in a way that makes sense for voice searches. 

    When creating your AMPs don’t forget that you can create so called “Actions” with Google Assistant or “Skills” with Alexa. By creating Google Actions, for example, you are establishing what people can ask their Google Assistant to interact with your content. Not sure how to create Actions or Skills? You can learn more about creating Actions or Skills on the Amazon and Google websites (Alexa skillsGoogle actions)

  2. Become more conversational: As already mentioned, voice searches tend to be much more conversational than traditional typed searches. With that said, there is likely benefit for the content of your website to be written in the same way than it would be spoken. This will not only make your site more customer friendly, it will also help it become more relevant for voice searches. Tip: Keep in mind that using long-tail and descriptive keywords may help you go the extra mile.

  3. Focus on relevant content: When creating content for voice search, keep the customer journey and intent in mind. For voice search, you should keep informational, navigational and transactional intent in mind, as your users will want to check facts, find a location, or receive more product information. The good news here is that the relevant content is most likely already on your website – you may just need to adjust it slightly. 

  4. Keep an eye on your client’s needs: As you have less insights for voice searches than you would for text searches, you will need to stay close to the data you do have. You may not be able to have a 1:1 conversation with your clients, but you can observe their behaviors, questions, and wishes. 

Final thoughts

While these may only be a small number of ideas, there are many more ways to optimize your site for voice search. Especially, if you have a local business or offer specific goods and services that are already represented by popular “actions”, you will need start integrating voice search into your content strategy as soon as possible. 

In the end, it is important to remember that voice activated assistants are constantly learning and there is no ultimate way to optimize for the way they search. As you will continuously update your site and content, don’t forget that you might just be your best resource. After all, you know exactly what kinds of questions you would be asking your voice activated assistant!

Still not sure how to create your strategy for voice search? Feel free to reach out – we are happy to answer any questions you may have about digital and content strategy.