If you’ve ever asked Google or Siri a question by voice – perhaps asking for an excellent Chinese restaurant near you while you’re driving or checking the weather for the upcoming weekend – you’ve performed a voice search. While cell phone giants like to personify the “assistants” who provide these answers, of course, what’s happening behind the scenes is that your voice query is converted into a text string which is then run through a search engine.
Voice searches are convenient, immediate, and in many instances simpler than typing. There is little wonder why voice search has exploded in recent years and is likely to continue increasing in popularity as voice search capabilities become standard on mobile devices.
When a virtual assistant finds and reads out the answer to a voice search query, it also reads out the source. This makes it vitally important that you aim for your WordPress site to be the one providing the answers to relevant search queries. Not only will doing so potentially increase the exposure of your site, measures you put in place to optimize for voice search queries will also assist your regular SEO efforts.
Voice search optimization already is to some extent – and certainly will become in the near future – as important for WordPress website owners to focus on as regular SEO. Read on to find out how voice searches differ from typed searches and how to optimize your WordPress site to make the most of the voice search trend.
Prioritize Page Loading Speed
There is little doubt that page speed is of enormous importance across the board. People simply don’t have the time or patience to wait an additional two seconds for a website to load, and the same is even truer of virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant. Voice search results are expected instantaneously, and virtual assistants will always choose a fast-loading website from which to glean the information they need. Optimize your page by choosing a fast loading WordPress theme, optimizing your images, and implementing various ways to speed up a WordPress site.
Schema Markup, the HTML code to generate rich snippets, is becoming increasingly important to help WordPress site owners to optimize their search engine rankings for specific queries.
As voice search queries continue to gain popularity, trends are emerging which show that virtual assistants use the information contained in Schema Markup to find the answers they need to address search queries. It is already clear that Schema Markups and rich snippets can have an enormous impact on the click-through rate of your website, and with new trends showing that Schema Markups can help to optimize a WordPress site for voice search queries, it makes sense to add Schema Markup HTML code to your website as soon as possible. Click here for a step-by-step tutorial on adding Schema Markup to WordPress sites.
Give Search Engines The Answers They Want
Questions, Not Keywords
When someone performs a voice search, they don’t simply speak the same search term that they would otherwise have typed. Since the Google Assistant, Siri, and other virtual assistants have become largely personified, people tend to speak their search queries the way they would when talking to a human.
For example, while someone might type “Tom Hanks age” directly into a search engine, when asking a virtual assistant the same question they are more likely to say “How old is Tom Hanks?”. If your website has been optimized solely for the “Tom Hanks age” keyword, you could miss out on traffic from voice searches phrased as a question rather than a query.
Short and Concise
Research into voice search trends shows that the average search query is less than 30 words long.
When people ask a short question, they expect an answer that is short, concise, and complete. Aim to fully answer each question in under 30 words.
However, this doesn’t mean that the rest of the content on that page needs to be short. Virtual assistants aim to provide a complete answer in under 30 words while also giving the user the ability to find a more detailed explanation on the source page. The trick is to set out the question and answer in very simple terms at the top of the page before going into the lengthier, more detailed explanation underneath.
Readability is vitally important for SEO and may play an even greater role in voice search optimization.
Voice search results are typically given at a ninth-grade reading and comprehension level. The Hemingway App is a free tool that tells you the current reading level of your content and visually highlights problematic areas in your text to help optimize your content for the exact reading level you need.
Examples of Properly Formatted Answers
Back in 2017 Google released its Evaluation Of Search Speech Guidelines which provided valuable insights into how Google assesses content and chooses which results to display following a voice search.
As the Guidelines reveal, Google looks for content that perfectly meets the needs of the query – in other words, fully answering the question given without providing other irrelevant information. It looks for the content of an appropriate length compared to the length of the question and the complexity of the answer. It looks at the grammatical formulation of the answer, ensuring that the answer is provided in a format that a native speaker of the relevant language would provide.
These guidelines provide a series of examples to help website owners perfectly formulate content that is most likely to be chosen by virtual assistants aiming to answer a voice search query.
Voice search may have its differences from typed search queries, but it is not suggested that voice search will completely do away with keyboard-based search queries. Instead, your WordPress site needs to be optimized and ready to handle both types of searches as they arise. Speeding up your page’s loading time and adding Schema Markup to your WordPress site is good practice anyway. Ultimately, optimizing your WordPress site for voice search comes down to giving as much consideration to phrases, questions, and other styles of longtail keywords as you do to short keywords.
By following the above steps, you can optimize your website and its content to perform better for voice search queries as well as standard keyword queries.