This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), voice assistants are becoming indispensable assets of everyday life. Voice search not only helps us multitask, but cuts out typing, waiting for a page to load and scrolling for answers. It also returns concise, accurate and fast results.
A voice-first world is underway, with 55% of households in the U.S. expected to own a smart speaker in 2022.
Speakable searches will soon govern search engine results pages (SERP), transforming consumer behavior and undermining our SEO efforts. With 80% of voice search answers returned from the top three organic results, ranking for voice search is a be-all end-all deal.
So, how do you integrate voice search into your optimization strategy to meet consumer demands and stay competitive?
The five SEO pillars outlined below will help your business stand out and gain market share on voice search in 2021 and beyond.
Implement long-tail keywords
When considering voice search, we must keep in mind that we speak two to three times faster than we type. If a text search cuts a query down to essential words, a voice search simulates a conversation.
Because voice search is fluent, and people use different words and phrases, the queries you need to target are longer. The longer the queries, the more chances you get to rank across search channels on various keywords and get higher conversion rates.
If normally you would optimize pages for main keywords to rank in Google’s SERP, for voice search, you need to focus on semantics and related terms. So instead of stuffing your content with keywords, implement long tails and write useful answers to the most frequent questions people ask related to your topic. A typed query like “fish and chips pub” becomes “what fish and chips pubs are open near me?”
This is especially important for mobile, where voice searches tend to be location-specific.
Optimize your website for local search by:
- Adding your service to Google Maps
- Setting up Google My Business
- Listing your business in local directories
And keep these requirements in mind when optimizing your content to rank for voice queries:
- Write more content to include long-tail keywords
- Keep your responses brief (29 words on average)
- Use a conversational tone to satisfy user intent
- Write in simple terms (15-year-old understanding level)
As a startup, promoting your business by any means necessary is encouraged to get traffic to your website when you first launch. But to establish your business on the market, you need to have strong SEO, too.
Implementing long-tail keywords is an excellent way for startups to qualify for voice search to get a head start and win their competitors’ traffic.
Target your audience’s questions
Google’s algorithms and natural language processing technology are so advanced that they can process user intent with incredible accuracy. Since most voice searches are questions, you need to include answers to questions that fit your users’ intent in your content.
Include FAQs in your content to make sure you cover all voice search queries related to your topic and provide answers to the most common conversation triggers (i.e. “what,” “why,” “best,” etc.).
Think of an uttered search query, such as “why coffee is good for you?” and compare it to a text search query like “coffee benefits.” This is the shift you need to adopt to rank for voice search results.
Instead of targeting keywords with a high keyword difficulty rate, which makes it almost impossible to outrank your competitors, you can give users the answers they are looking for. As a startup, optimizing your landing pages to answer your audience’s questions will help gain traction over well-established businesses that may miss this opportunity.
Meet Google’s search quality guidelines
Startup businesses should establish E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
It is counterintuitive and ineffective to try to rank higher without first meeting Google’s search quality guidelines. As a startup, you need to think about your SEO strategy vigorously, building your page quality. A high E-A-T score will then improve your chances to rank higher in Google’s SERP.
So how can you build your E-A-T score as a startup?
- Publish guest posts on an authoritative domain to rank for high difficulty keywords
- Get quality backlinks from distinguished industry directories
- Publish quality content on your website to rank for voice search results
In some cases, performing a typed search overlaps with voice searches: 70% of voice search answers come from a Google featured snippet or “people also ask” feature. Optimizing your content for quick answers will make you a desired candidate for featured snippets, and thus, your content suitable to be returned by a voice request.
Adding structured data to your website will help you build your expertise and authority and earn consumers’ trust while increasing your website’s rankings for all search results types, including voice search.
Make your website mobile-friendly
Having a mobile-friendly website is essential for securing your place in SERP. Twenty percent of mobile searches represent spoken queries, as the software is already embedded into mobile devices, and mobile voice search is getting more and more prevalent.
First and foremost, voice search serves people on the go. There is no way around the fact that implementing a responsive design is a prerequisite to rank for voice generated searches.
Reduce page loading time
The pressure to keep your loading time below four seconds is higher than ever, and 52% of voice responses come from pages that load faster than average.
Since speed is at the heart of voice search, consumers expect to get the help they need in an instant. As a new business, you must optimize website performance to best satisfy your audience and secure your place within voice commerce.
Using the five SEO pillars discussed above, you’ll help your new business stand out and gain customer traction in 2021 and beyond.