How to optimize your content for voice search | 2017 edition

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voice search SEO

It’s already the mobile era. Mobile has taken over the internet world by a storm. Mobile search vs desktop search has got a winner back in 2015. The searches made on mobile is way more than the searches made on desktops. Everything was going cool and smooth, then the voice search happened. Marketers fastened their seat belts to do the voice search SEO and targeting the mobile users more than before.

A report from Google in 2014 says that 55% of teens and 44% of adults use voice search more than twice a day. Voice search has already surpassed mobile search (type search on mobile) so not focusing on voice search SEO will leave a lot of money on the table. The projection made by Google says that more than half of the query will be made by voice search by 2020. No need to emphasize that voice search SEO in 2017 is important. We know it.

The question is. Are we ready? Are we having voice search optimized content? 

In this post, I will be sharing a detailed study on voice search SEO and why is it important. But before knowing best practices for voice search optimization let me tell you more about voice search first. Understanding how things work at the foundation will help you innovate methods that work for you right. Let’s begin.

How voice search work?

The voice search was a dream to many. A for an extended period of time, many researchers and scientists have been dreaming of a machine that can chat with humans like humans. Listening to what humans say was never even a thought. Since the inception of voice recognition technology back in 1877, it has only made lives easier.

The human brain is a masterpiece. It is complex in so many ways. Isn’t it magical that sounds that fall on human ears make sense to the human brain and eventually to us? The sounds that humans here are sound packets called “phones”, these phones become letters and words inside the human brain. For example, in the word EGG, “e”, “g”, “g” will be called as phones. Another side of this aspect is “Phonemes”, which means the counterpart of the phones stored inside our brains.

This is a natural process. What voice technology does is an exact replica of this concept. The “phones” are the words (search terms) we humans produce and the “phonemes” are the counterparts of the phones inside the voice search engine. To make it even clear, the phonemes are fed prior. Just like we feed an AI before use. Phonemes from each language and accent are fed to the voice search engine. Hearing which it recognizes the voice and serves the relevant results. There are four stages of a computer use to turn a voice into text i.e. a successful voice recognition.

  1. Matching: Simple as the name is. The computer compares the word spoken with the word fed in the voice search engine.
  2. Pattern and feature analysis: Each word is broken into bits and analyzed by such as vowels.
  3. Language modeling and statistical analysis: In this stage, the words are checked for grammar, sound patterns are checked to increase the accuracy of the recognition.
  4. Artifical neural networks: The AI i.e. the voice search engine determines the voice converts them into text (input for search) after an intense training from the developers.

So this is how the voice search works. This should help you craft your overall voice search SEO strategy. Basic understanding of how voice search works is necessary for exactly this reason.

Now that you know how the voice search works, you’d have a question.

How to do the voice search SEO

The search engine giants like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have already revolutionized the internet by giving their search engines. They personified the traditional method of searching the web all over again. Just as we know, the people got used to searching the web by typing in the query into the search bar of the search engine. This method is nearing a halfway defeat from voice search.

Technically, a typical search query is a 1-3 word long sentence. Since the voice search is more of the conversational way it tends to be a bit longer than the typical long tail search term.

The whole idea of voice search is to quickly provide the best search results based on the input text or search query. The best, relevant and simple content is identified by the voice search engine and served back to the searcher.

Simply put, the voice search is gaining popularity because it is fast, easy and convenient. Voice search apps like Google voice search can be accessed from any screen on your smartphone. If it is this convenient to search, why spend time typing?

Voice search SEO is no big deal. It is straight and simple.

Be mobile friendly.

How to be?

#1 Understand what people are searching

Voice search being this convenient becomes the go-to app for any query. A study by KPCB says that 22% of people use voice search for searching local listing. This is a signal for marketers & business owners to invest time in optimizing for local search.

Get your business listed on Google My Business. Reason being the fact that when a voice search is made, the traditional search results are bypassed and local search results are pushed up on the list. So if you can spend time and money to improve your business profile on Google My Business. It will really pay off soon.

  • Make sure you have your contact details updated.
  • Keep your working hours and holidays updated.
  • Post engaging content on the business profile on Google.
  • Add all relevant links to bring a searcher to your business website/app/service.

voice search SEO

#2 Use conversational keywords

homepage SEO

People speak thrice more than they type in a minute. When we speak, do we speak less? Nope.

The voice searches made are a bit long. People interact with the voice search engines in a natural way. You don’t say just ‘chocolate brownie’, there are very high chances that you’d say ‘how to make a chocolate brownie and what are the ingredients used’. That’s conversational. Long tail+coversational keyword.

Gathering the conversational keywords for voice search SEO is quite tricky and lengthy. Let’s see how to do it.

#2.1 Think like end users

When it comes to voice search SEO, you will need to think a bit deeper than usual. You don’t have tools to think, but your brain. You are already awesome at it.

Become a user and try to figure out all possible ways of reaching your own website. You can even get into a random conversation with your friend and discuss your website/service. Notice the conversational terms your friend utters while talking.

Using “where” in the target voice search query is of great help. “Where” has highest buyer intent and is most used by the searchers.

#2.2 Notice the questions your customers ask

This obviously holds true only if you have a good customer base. You’d be interacting with your customers daily via various mediums, be it social media, emails, calls, 101 meetings etc. This is a free source of such keywords. The real people coming out to serve you keywords for free. You just need to vigilant enough.

For those who are tiny tots in the business, don’t worry. You too can do this by engaging similar minded people on various platforms and noticing what they talk. You can also build a query by logically conversing about your business with the target long tail keyword(s) as the base.

#3 Build FAQs page

This is the best place you can use the conversational pages. The search engine would pick up these pages for the voice search query and serve it to the searcher. Resulting in the searcher landing to your business page, or any target page you’d want them to land on.

While building an FAQ page keep certain things in mind.

  • Cover the question that your potential customers would ask. Use FAQFox for getting questions for your FAQ page. Just feed the keyword and select the topic. A list of top FAQ will pop up. You can download the list in a spreadsheet and delete the irrelevant and use only the best.
  • Use keyword(s) that make sense. Unlike searches made on the web by typing. There is no scope for ‘related’ query. The google voice search is 95% accurate now hence using keywords like ‘Emma Watson movie name‘ will not help. You are dealing with the human voice directly, be grammatically sound.
  • Use proper Grammar for the conversational keywords. The searchers are native language speakers and chances of grammatical mistakes is negligible. So be the user you want to target.
  • Anticipate customer’s questions by either running polls, surveys or feedbacks. You can even do the orthodox way, Think. The more questions you come up with, the more ground you get to cover to target your potential customers. Anticipated questions will help build a really good FAQ page which will not only help the users also flag a green sign to search engine bots.
  • Longer the better. For example, if you are looking for a pet what would voice search? Just the animal name or specific details like ‘3 weeks old male Siberian husky for sale near me‘. This is how it’s needed to be anticipated.

FAQs are a great section to grow your voice search audience. Use it well.

#4 Understand who uses voice search SEO

Knowing your audience is really important to grow your online presence. Each business has a subset of users, not all will like it and not all will dislike it. Depending on the target users, understand more about them. Their age, profession, gender, demographics, devices do a great job in voice search optimizing.

The report from Google showed that 55% teens and 44% adults used voice search twice a day. This excludes middle aged and old aged people. Your audience might include people who have smaller devices and hence rely on voice search for surfing.

The smartphones these days come with personal assistants, be it android, windows or apple. Users with devices will not disown the voice searching services provided with the devices. Take some time out and understand about the users, you will get enough data to optimize your content for voice search.

#5 Understand where people use voice search

Voice search is to ease the surfing experience for the end users.  Handsfree is the synonym to voice search. People driving cars, people in a crowded commute, people in kitchen use the voice search. So technically, they’ll be specific and long. Thanks to the accuracy of voice recognition, the voice search is done from anywhere. There are very high chances that people would opt a voice search over the text search since the hands/vision are occupied in various activities

Devices like Amazon echo and Google Home makes it even easier to do the voice control/voice search.

voice search seo

Source: Stone Temple Consulting


#6 Position Zero

Position Zero of the SERPs is the sweetest spot to be in the voice search results. The Google assistant reads out loud the featured search results which is a really good way to boost your content and brand value overall.


An unoptimized or a less optimized content will not do well or rank well in the voice SERPs. This is how voice search affects SEO of your business. Not to forget that the voice search bypasses the traditional search and serves mobile-friendly search results. Nailing the site loading speed and an extra layer of mobile-friendliness is a plus point.

The social landscape and demographics affect the voice search SEO. So if you search for restaurants, you’ll automatically receive the list of restaurants near you. Listing your business on Google My Business is a great move. Be local SEO ready.

One more important thing to note is voice search results do not contain PPC, so there’s a lot of space to rank. Utilize the space well.

These tactics hold good for all major voice search agents like Google voice, Cortana, Siri, hound etc.

Over to you. What difficulty did you face in voice search optimizing your content? What’s your best experience out of voice search optimization? Let me know in the comment section below.

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I am an SEO consultant by profession and photographer by choice. I have 5+ years of experience in SEO consulting and content marketing. I aim to become the one-stop for all your digital marketing needs

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