Voice Search SEO: Optimising for Micro Moments

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By News March 16, 2018

As voice search is starting to take over from traditional search engine queries, online businesses are competing for opportunities in voice. Consumers are using voice more and more to ask questions, perform actions, get directions to places and buy goods online – all using keywords that are specific to voice search.

To seize this growing opportunity, it is important to understand the difference between voice and traditional queries, and learn how to optimise online content for voice using voice search SEO strategies.

Humanisation of Search

As the number of voice searches increases, we’re seeing a “humanisation” of search queries: our 2 or 3-word keywords are turning into human, conversational, long-tail queries.

In their guide about the switch to mobile, Google has identified 4 types of micro-moments. Mobile and voice search aren’t mutually exclusive, instead, they’re intertwined. This is why voice search SEO focuses on understanding micro-moments, their specificities, and carrying out specific optimisation strategies for each.

Google has identified the following micro-moments:

  • “I-want-to-know” moments, that are translated to searches starting with Who, What, Why…
  • “I-want-to-go” moments are expressed through “near me” and “nearby” searches
  • “I-want-to-do” moments, translated to “How to…” queries
  • “I-want-to-buy” moments relate to specific product keywords.

Webmasters need to understand the specificities of each type of micro-moments, in order to successfully optimise their sites for each.

How to Optimise your Website for Voice Search?

Optimising a website for voice search comes down to:

  • making your website usable for mobile users
  • understanding mobile user intent and optimising your content accordingly
  • making sure you’re visible locally, where you’ve got physical presence
  • making your products prominent whenever your potential customers are ready to buy.

Here are some guidelines to help you achieve each of goals outlined above:

Make Your Website User-Friendly

As a big portion of voice searches are performed on mobile phone, it’s really important to offer a seamless mobile user experience. Google is taking steps towards a mobile-friendly web through its mobile-first index and numerous other updates, such as the mobile page speed update. To learn how to optimise your site for mobile search, head here.

Now that your website is mobile-friendly, here’s how to optimise your website for voice search micro-moments.

Understand Intent

When it comes to “I want to know” and “I want to do” voice micro moments, it all starts with some keyword research. These micro moments are geared towards informational content that can be found through conversational queries, in the form of questions. Therefore, the keywords you’ll be looking for will start with Who, Why, What, When, Where, How to, Are…? Is… ? Do… ? Does… ?

There’s a few different ways you can come up with this type of keywords:

First, think of all the services you offer and the questions that may bring your potential customers to you. Make a list of these.

Secondly, you can leverage some of Google’s useful search features. For example, you can start a question containing one of your main keywords, and see what Google suggests:

screenshot - demonstration of google's suggestion feature

You can also submit a query containing one of your main keywords, and scroll down in the search result page to the “People also ask” widget:

screenshot - demonstration of Google's "people also ask" feature

The above techniques may be fairly easy if you are a small to medium business, or only offer a small range of products or services. For bigger retailers, and businesses with a greater variety of services though, this may be a bit time consuming. Instead, you can head to Answer The Public, submit a search for each of your main keywords, and export the lists generated by the tool.

Once you’ve gathered a satisfactory list of search phrases, you can upload it to Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner for further analysis.

Optimise your Content

When optimising your content for informational types of keywords (I want to know, I want to do), know how to structure your content:

diagram: inverted pyramid of journalism

To increase your chances of Google featuring your content in its featured snippet, structure your content following the inverted pyramid. Answer the question first, then move onto more details, visual aids and case studies.

Furthermore, Google loves structured data and has a habit of displaying whole paragraphs, lists, and tables in featured snippets. Increase your chances of voice assistants using your content by:

  • Answering questions in the form of a short paragraph, using <p> tags
  • Laying your data in a table, using the <table> html tag
  • Numbering your subheadings so that Google can use them as a list.

Increase your Local Presence

Increasing your local presence is vital in the era of voice search. Search engines are taking advantage of mobile phones and home assistants to serve information that’s relevant to the user’s location. Furthermore, “near me” searches have increased exponentially, making location more important than ever.

To optimise your site for “I want to do” micro moments (those “near me” searches), it is important that you pay close attention to your local ranking signals. Here is a basic checklist:

  • Each of your physical locations has its own verified Google My Business (GMB) listing
  • Your GMB listings are up-to-date with name, address, phone number and opening times
  • Each of your GMB listings has the right business category
  • Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) are consistent across your website, GMB listings and third-party citations
  • Each of your GMB listings links to the right landing pages on your website
  • Your GMB listings have a good number of reviews, and good ratings compared to competitors
  • You respond to bad reviews
  • You’ve uploaded photos to your GMB listings
  • Your local landing pages are marked up with LocalBusiness Schema.org

Optimising your business locations following the above will help search engines understand your local signals. This will in turn increase the probability that voice assistants will use your local listing rather than your competitor’s.

Make your Products Prominent to Potential Buyers

Optimising for “I want to buy” micro-moments implies making your products prominent on search engines, so that voice assistants and search engines serve them to users that are ready to buy.

At this stage, it is really important to make your product page as relevant and rich as possible. Look at the following:

  • The page titles and H1s include product names
  • Optimise your product pages with Breadcrumb and Product Schema.org markup, including:
    • Product name
    • Description
    • Price
    • Image
    • Rating
  • Product images are optimised
  • Product pages include unique product descriptions.

Conclusion

Voice search SEO is a lot less linear than traditional SEO. One needs to understand the different types of micro-moments and user intents to develop the right optimisation strategies. I hope this guide provided you with a better understanding of those micro-moments, and how to optimise your content for each of them.

Not sure how to leverage the power of voice search? Our team of SEO specialists can help. Talk to us today!

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