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Voice search has come a long way since the novelty of Siri’s introduction in 2011. While voice recognition still isn’t perfect, more people are embracing this fast and convenient search option every year, with ComScore predicting that voice searches will account for half of all searches in 2020.
Voice search saves the time and effort of typing search phrases manually. When users ask follow-up questions about the same topic, they don’t have to repeat the keyword for it to be included automatically. With the growth of voice search expected to continue, it’s important to make sure your website is prepared.
How to write for voice search
Online content has traditionally been geared towards typed searches, so voice optimisation is a different approach that can take some getting used to. Here are the four main differences that will help you capture voice search queries.
The biggest difference from typed searches is that voice search is more conversational. People tend to ask questions in full sentences, complete with ‘filler’ words, rather than the economised shorthand of typing.
Google claims that its voice recognition technology has 95% accuracy, so users can ask questions as if they’re talking to a human and don’t need to adjust their natural speech too much to be understood.
When search queries are spoken out loud as full sentences, they’re most likely to be in a question format. For the best chance of capturing these searches, you should tailor your page titles and subheadings to the exact phrases you think people are looking for.
Use the five W’s – who, what, when, where and why (and how) – choosing the most appropriate for each heading. Writing subheadings as questions and answering the question directly below can also improve your chance of generating a featured snippet in Google search results. Adding FAQ sections to pages is an easy way to generate a question and answer list.
If you need help coming up with relevant questions for topics, you can try a few Google searches to see what questions people are asking or check sites such as Answer the Public.
Another consequence of natural phrasing is that spoken search queries tend to be much longer than traditional searches. According to Backlinko, the average voice search is 29 words long, so you should modify your standard keywords to make a variety of long-tail keywords.
Voice search is especially dominant in local SEO, so make sure you include your location in long-tail keywords if you have a local business.
SEO isn’t all about keywords. Google’s artificial intelligence system RankBrain also analyses pages for other words and phrases that it recognises as being relevant to the context, allowing for more sophisticated ranking.
These terms are likely to come up naturally as you type the page, but you can find more using tools such as LSIGraph and Google’s Keyword Planner.
When you’re optimising pages for voice search, it’s important not to neglect traditional SEO. A well-balanced page will attract both typed and spoken queries.