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What is Voice Search SEO and Why Should You Care?

It’s not hard to understand why so many people use their mobile devices to browse.  Why bother firing up your computer or laptop when you can simply ask Google or Siri on your phone?  There’s just no denying the convenience of using a smartphone for everything from getting directions, to sending messages, to shopping online.

As a result, the way people search is changing, and thanks to hands-free laws that prohibit manual phone use while driving, voice search has become a convenient and time-saving alternative to typing in search queries.  Why is this important to businesses and how can you use this knowledge to your advantage?

What is Voice Search SEO?

When users voice a command, as opposed to typing in a search query, they tend to use different language.  Whereas you might type in a search like “hardware stores Los Angeles” or “hardware stores near me”, you might say aloud “Google, find the nearest hardware store”, or “Siri, pull up directions to the nearest hardware store” for example.

This might not seem substantially different, but when it comes to SEO, the nuances in word choice and syntax can make a major difference.  People who use voice search tend to employ a more conversational tone, and if your keyword strategy revolves around the more stilted language used when typing a query, it may lose relevance for voice searches.

The long and short of it is, if you’re not optimizing for voice search, you’re missing out on the opportunity to target a significant amount of search traffic.  In addition, Google has been pushing a “mobile first” initiative that gives preferential treatment to websites that optimize for mobile use, and this includes voice search, so you definitely want to plan for success in this regard.

How to Optimize for Voice Search

In order to optimize for voice search, you first need to understand how it differs from typed search queries, and the main difference is in the informal nature with which people speak versus type.  It will affect not only the keywords you choose, but also the arrangement of words in keyword phrases.

In addition, a lot of voice searches revolve around location data.  People often use voice search when they have to be hands-free, like when they’re driving.  As a result, many voice searches are intended to find nearby places or directions to places.  Understanding this can help you to focus on specific types of searches most likely to be conducted orally, particularly local search traffic.

You can also optimize content to be more relevant for voice search.  One common characteristic of voice search queries is that they tend to be longer than typed searches, as people speak naturally and don’t bother to conserve language.  When typing, economy of language saves time and effort, but this isn’t typically a concern with voice search.

For this reason, consider creating content with longer headlines that mimic voice speech and design them for use as featured snippets.  If your strategy works, you’ll could get ranked just below paid search results, giving you the best opportunity to nab coveted voice search traffic.

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