Voice Search Optimization: What it is and how to rank #1 and Why Schema Markup Matters

Voice search

Voice Search Optimization is SEO for voice-based searches. Optimizing your site for voice lets your site rank when people search for your products or services through platforms like Google Voice Search, Alexa and or Siri, etc…

To boil it down: if your website is not ready for voice search you are going to miss out on web traffic and ultimately business.

From a high level:

  1. In 2020 over 50% of searches will be performed with voice.
  2. “Featured Snippets” are the #1 most clicked organic search result and you don’t have to rank #1 on the first page to own them. Voice-based searches use these snippets for the answers to queries.
  3. Without Schema your site will not rank well for voice search, if at all.

Skip to the bottom to learn what you need to do to get your site ready for voice search.

Voice search optimization

What is Voice Search

Voice search is the act of verbally engaging with a search engine to find the desired result. Consider these actions: “Ok Google, what is voice search,”, ”Hey Siri,  define voice search,” “Alexa, tell me about voice search”.

Voice Search Optimization is the act of ensuring, through various strategies and best practices, that your website is easy for search engines to find when a user verbally asks the search engine a question. The search engine needs to be able to understand what your site is discussing, offering, sharing, etc, so it can provide users with a rich search result. These results are often read out loud back to the user by the device.

Demonstrate The Differences

For starters Google process over 63,000 searches per second. That’s over 5.5 billion searches a day and it’s growing. One of the most popular phrases searched is a variant of “can I buy__ near me” or “where to buy ___ near me ” these searches saw a 500+% increase over the last several years. That’s massive growth. More and more people are trying to find your business by asking their phone, Alexa, Google devices, etc pointed questions that your business can answer to be recognized by search engines, develop trust with visitors and ultimately earn you more revenue.

Voice search optimization best practices

Here’s the kicker: Voice search only reads 1 result. There will be winners and everyone else will lose. This means if your oranizations site is not optimized for voice search your business is going to be missing out BIG TIME!

What does voice search look like?

Curious what a voice search result looks like? Typically they render as a featured snippet. These guys are super important.

Featured Snippet

What voice search looks like

The importance of featured snippets | Theres a search rank better then #1

A featured snippet is the most clicked organic result from a Google search. This featured snippet is essentially search result “0” and the new #1 spot.

That’s right, there is a ranking better than the first listing on the first page of Google. These are called “featured snippets” and have the highest chance of being used for a voice search result than that of an organically ranking page. A site that ranks for result 6 could also win the featured snippet if it is optimized properly. The purpose of voice search optimization is to win these snippets.

Featured snippets are particularly exciting because they have the highest number of click-through rates on search engines. They are so important that 80% of google home results come from a featured snippet. If you own the featured snippet your business can win the voice search for that query, get more visitors and ultimately get more revenue

How does voice search work?

Search engines like Google use technology such as natural language processing to read and ingest a website for the search: see this article by MOZ on Hummingbird. Hummingbird paved the way for Google to harness natural language using improved NLP algorithms.

What is Natural Language Processing (NLP). According to sas.com: “Natural language processing (NLP) is a branch of artificial intelligence that helps computers understand, interpret and manipulate human language. NLP draws from many disciplines, including computer science and computational linguistics, in its pursuit to fill the gap between human communication and computer understanding.” More or less it allows machines, in this case, search engines, to understand the intent behind what someone is asking in a search, or what is written on a blog, website, etc.

A big power behind preparing your site for NLP is making sure you are utilizing structured data.

Voice search optimization and structured data

What is structured data?

This is code that is written specifically to help search engines better ingest and then display your content within search results in a richer way. This code is developed based on your content and injected into your site.

There are many different categories for structured and many different types of structured data, for example; structured data for businesses, recipes, books, hospitals, movies, people and more. See Googles Search gallery to understand what rich snippets are powered by structured data.

This structured data allows you to share contextual clues with Google about your business from your website. With structured data, you can add in what the name of your business is, what services you provide, who your CEO is, what year it was founded, what products you sell, etc all behind a page that may not directly or explicitly mention those items.

Schema.org and structured data.

What is Schema.org?  Essentially it is the gold standard for structured data. A few years back all the big search engines got together and developed a project called schema.org to standardize the proper structured data markups that the search engines will support.  It is a big library full of code for structured data sets as it relates to every indexible category.    On Schema.org it says that  “The schemas are a set of ‘types’, each associated with a set of properties. The types are arranged in a hierarchy.  The core vocabulary currently consists of 614 Types, 905 Properties, and 114 Enumeration values.”  This means there are a lot of different elements of code to know and use.

In short, this structured data enables Google to know what your website is talking about and will improve the way it serves up a search result and gives you the best chance of owning a featured snippet and coming up in result 0 for a voice search. This paves the way for your site to rank better with voice search and searches in general.

How do I get my site ready for voice search?

There are a few things that go into preparing your site for voice search. Here is where we suggest you start.

  • Schema Markup/ Structured data implementation.
  • Claim your Google My Business Listing:  Claiming your business listing will:
    • Increases your SEO as it is providing additional details about your business on a trusted source and will provide you with trusted links back to your site.
    • Help enable location-based search: Google uses this to verify the location of your business and serve it up in location searches.
  • Create smarter content: Simply writing about your products and services isn’t enough. You need to develop a content strategy that answers your customers’ questions about your products and services. Even if they are difficult to answer.
  • Keep good SEO Hygiene.

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