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Voice search best practices: Why you should be on a first-name basis with Siri

For a while, voice search was a staple in sci-fi movies and nothing but a distant possibility in the real world.

As it turns out, the future arrived faster than a speeding DeLorean, and now as much as 20 percent of mobile searches use voice-based technology.  

For businesses that haven’t yet put much consideration into this new tool, here’s how voice search will impact your business, and what you should do to make the most of this development:

Voice search 101: What you need to know

Despite the sci-fi connotations, voice search isn’t rocket science. It’s essentially exactly the same as a normal Google search, except you say what you’re looking for aloud rather than typing it in.

Voice search works the same on mobile as it does on desktop and typically comes up with the same results as a written command. Additionally, since its early days in 2010, Google’s voice search has continually added new features and tools, and now offers search in a total of 119 languages (and counting).

Google being Google, they really have thought of everything. For example, US users of the Ok Google techcan now add emoticons by saying ‘winky face emoji’.

How you can optimise your website for voice search

While the search results may be largely the same for voice search and traditional search, there are some significant differences in the way people search when using their own voice. If you want to capture the high volume of voice searches happening every day, you’ll need to alter the way you write your content. Here are our tips:

Long-tail keywords

When people use voice search, they are no longer using basic short-tail keywords. Instead of ‘car rental Sydney’, they’re asking ‘where can I pick up a rental car in Sydney?’. This means your content should incorporate more long-tail phrases based around your keywords to catch these specific searches – ideally putting these phrases in headlines and subheadings.

Q&A content

Whether it’s a strange rash or a disagreement in a bar, Google is usually the first place people go to for answers to their questions. As well as an FAQ landing page, consider the occasional question-and-answer blog post that focuses on a niche topic. This will help you drill down into the more complicated parts of your product and add targeted long-tail questions.

Google business listings

One quick and easy tip is to make sure your business details are correct on your Google listing. This is because people are using voice search to say things like ‘best Thai takeaways near me’. Clever Google will then use their location and pull up nearby businesses – so a current address and open hours can work in your favour.

Location-based search terms

As well as your physical address, start creating content that includes your location and surrounds. For example, you could talk about how you’re the best Thai takeaway place near X park, or you could talk about some of the best attractions near your business to include a few of those terms.

Become a user

The very best tip? Start using voice search yourself. Get in the habit of asking Google instead of typing to Google. Not only will you get a good feel of how it all works, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly how others will use voice search as well. With this, you may even be able to discover a few insights of your own.