Voice Search SEO Guide

Search engine optimization (SEO) now involves much more than optimizing landing pages for queries typed into Google Search. Over the decades, search engines have evolved to use a variety of other inputs, including visuals and, of course, sound. Today, millions of hands-free online searches per day are initiated through voice commands on mobile devices, smart TVs, home assistants, and other smart devices.

Voice is already a mainstream search input in a few major markets, particularly in the United States. While Filipinos have been slow to adopt voice search, the number of those using voice search regularly continues to grow year after year. Chances are that most people you know have tried voice searches at least once.

It’s also worth mentioning that the share of people using traditional typed inputs continues to decrease year after year. It’s likely that voice search may eventually account for a larger portion if not an outright majority of some types of “top of the funnel” searches. With people worldwide adopting streaming services as a primary source of information, we will likely see voice searches dominate searches on smart TVs and other similar devices.

It’s not the first time such a huge shift in search has occurred. For instance, most personal searches are now conducted through mobile phones, with desktop searches now primarily used for work-related searches. Even though the volume of voice searches remains low in many markets, SEO services will have to readjust to accommodate voice search much as they did for mobile.

Here, we’ll show you our basic two-step process for optimizing for voice search.

Step 1: Start With Keyword Research

You’ve probably noticed that search terms in traditional SEO are rarely complete sentences. The keywords typed into search bars tend to be ideas or idea clusters like “best basketball shoes Philippines” rather than complete sentences such as “Show me the best basketball shoes in the Philippines”.

On the other hand, complete sentences are much more commonplace in voice searches. This may be partly because the way users interact with voice assistants encourages the use of complete sentences. This means that your approach to SEO for voice search should be more centered around full-sentence keywords.

Here are a few tips for doing keyword research for Google Voice Search:

  • Tip #1: Choose Question-Based Keywords. The most popular voice searches tend to be questions. Given this, SEOs who want to rank for voice searches should consider targeting popular questions. Automated tools by SEMRush or Ahrefs are great for quickly finding typical question-based searches surrounding a keyword. If you have a limited budget, you can also use Google Search’s “People also ask section” to discover frequently asked questions about a certain topic.
  • Tip #2: Use Long-Tail Keywords. Keywords on voice search are almost always long-tail because searchers tend to use sentences or long phrases. If you want to rank for voice search, you’ll have to look beyond fat head keywords and focus your selection on long-tail keywords.
  • Tip #3: Definitely Use Long-Tail Keywords for Local SEO. Most local searches are going to be long-tail because of the more specific intent of people doing local searches. Optimizing for the right local long-tail keywords can make all the difference when reaching voice search users, particularly drivers and other people who are traveling in unfamiliar areas.

Step 2: Write Content Optimized for Voice Search

Google tends to favor certain types of content for voice search results. To ensure that your landing pages are pulled through voice searches, make sure to do the following:

  • Tip #1: Write FAQs. Google seems to favor high-authority FAQ landing pages for voice searches. Additionally, it seems to favor answers that are direct to the point, with a length of at least 29 words. To better accommodate Google’s preference, write logically-structured FAQs that answer real questions that people ask. Be sure to format your page properly with H2 subheaders to help search bots understand that you’re presenting an FAQ.
  • Tip #2: Update Your Google Business Profile (Formerly Google My Business). Voice searches are especially important for drivers and other travelers who might find it inconvenient to run conventional typed searches. If you’re doing SEO for a local business, updating your Google Business profile will help your landing page be prioritized on Google Voice Search and help it appear on other local searches as well.
  • Tip #3: Improve Your Site Speed. Google has long used site loading speeds as a ranking signal for conventional searches and this seems to hold true for voice searches. This makes sense, as faster-loading speeds create a better user experience and also make it easier for bots to crawl a website’s content. Therefore, if you want your landing page to be prioritized for voice search, do your due diligence in optimizing your website’s loading speeds.
  • Tip#4: Don’t Neglect Traditional SEO. Ranking highly on Google’s search engine results pages is likely to boost the odds of a site being used for Google’s voice search. This means that to get ahead of your competitors on voice search, you need a good position on conventional search as well. Learn about our process for getting landing pages to rank on Google in this article: How to Rank Higher on Google.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, things that are great for traditional text input SEO tend to also be good for voice search. This makes sense because the overall goal of search engine developers is to provide useful results. Whether a search engine user typed or vocalized their queries should not significantly change the answers given on a results page or vocal search results.

However, this doesn’t mean that digital marketers should just keep doing the same things they’ve always been doing. By implementing a few key changes to their campaign execution, SEOs can better position their websites to have an early lead in the growing voice search segment. While they may not see significant returns in the next few months of implementation, chances are that they will see gains when the volume of voice searches inevitably picks up in the near future.

Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal is the founder and CEO of SearchWorks.Ph. He has been doing SEO since 2008 and is consistently featured in mainstream media and industry conferences. His core skills include SEO, SEM, data analytics and business development.
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal is the founder and CEO of SearchWorks.Ph. He has been doing SEO since 2008 and is consistently featured in mainstream media and industry conferences. His core skills include SEO, SEM, data analytics and business development.