Health IS Technology Blog

Optimizing Your Website for Voice Search

Man using the voice recognition of the phone

In 2016 Google announced that 20% of all of its searches were done through voice search. These numbers are projected to hit 50% in 2020. If so much of what users are finding of your website is coming from voice searches, it might be time to optimize your content for this medium. Below are some tips on how to optimize for voice search.


What’s the Difference Between Traditional and Voice Search?

When we type queries into search engines, it’s likely that we use simple phrases, rather than complete sentences. For instance, if you are searching through Google on a desktop, you might type in “USF”. While you’ll likely find what you’re looking for, this query isn’t very specific.

Google Voice Search Application on Galaxy Nexus Smartphone

Most mobile devices have voice enabled searches.

When typing into a search engine, there is no mistaking that you’re interacting with a database. When searching through a voice automated service, like Siri or Cortana, it feels more like interacting with another human. Because of this, voice searches are often longer than traditional searches, and they’re also more commonly phrased as questions. So, instead of typing “USF”, you might instead say, “Hey Siri, what is the address of University of South Florida?” The specificity of intent with this question ensures that you’ll be given the answer that you’re seeking.

From a digital marketing perspective, the specificity of voice searches are golden. The more we know about what our visitors want, the better we can craft our websites to meet customer questions and needs. 

Another major difference between traditional and voice searches is that the latter is more often focused on local queries. Many voice automated assistants are used on mobile devices. Because of this, most of the queries conducted on them will be related to mobile and local solutions. For example, you might ask Cortana, “Hey Cortana, where can I rent a textbook today?” Using GPS information from your mobile device, Cortana will be able to easily answer your query. Traditional searches would likely not be as conversational.


What are the Best Ways to Optimize for Voice Search?

There are many ways to effectively optimize a website and its content for voice search.

Keyword Research

Every solid Search Engine Optimization (i.e. SEO) endeavor should start with keyword research. Crafting SEO with voice search in mind requires the same preparation. One difference here is that when researching keywords for voice search it’s important to keep natural and conversational language in mind. Keywords that are included as part of questions are critical to include in SEO content for voice searchers.

The Moz Keyword Explorer includes a feature through which you can narrow your keyword research to focus only on those that included as questions or common phrases.

Screenshot of Key Phrases or Longtails on Moz keyword explorer

Answer Your Reader’s Questions

Once you’ve researched your key questions or phrases a.k.a. “longtails”, you’ll want to make sure your content is suited to answering each one clearly and concisely. Sentences set in a traditional grammatical format (i.e. subject, predicate, clause, etc.) will not only be easier for readers to comprehend, but they’ll also be easier for search engines to pick up on. So, if your key question is “Where is the University of South Florida located”, then you’ll want to include a line of copy saying, “The University of South Florida is located in Tampa, Florida”. Providing a question-and-answer type of format on your website will increase the amount of traffic it can gain from voice search queries.

Have Solutions Readily Available

Photo of woman using voice recognition software via her phone

Most mobile devices have voice activated search options.

The interesting thing about voice search is that a great deal of it is action based. We’re not just typing in queries, we’re demanding solutions. Because of this, websites need to have very clear cut and obvious solutions for visitors. On most mobile devices, a voice search will lead directly to a call-to-action link or button with familiar prompts such as, “Call Now” or “Get Directions”. You need to make sure your website is focused on leading guests to those calls-to-action and engagement elements.

This goes back to the above tips that will ultimately help to make your website more attractive for voice searches:

  • Research questions
  • Provide clear answers
  • Present quick solutions


The Future of Voice Search

It wasn’t long ago that Siri was considered a revolutionary new technology. Now, SEOs are expected to adapt to the increasing demands of a digital world that is increasingly powered by voice searches. With the rise of Amazon’s Alexa a.k.a. Echo, voice search is only going to become more popular and continue to advance. Smart watches provide even more devices that utilize voice search. And, many homes are projected to become completely smart and voice activated. It’s only a matter of time before all of our cars are voice activated, too! All of this means that SEOs, web developers, and business website owners are going to have to evolve along with these technologies. So, if you fit anywhere into those groups you’ll want to stay tuned to stay ahead of the curve!



Happy Computing!