When Apple debuted Siri back in 2011, no one could have imagined how integrated it and its fellow voice assistants would become in our daily lives.
Today, we can ask our smartphone almost any question and it will scour the web to find the best answer. If you're looking to grow your brand, the takeaway is clear: Voice search optimization should play a big role in your SEO strategy, and its impact will only increase in 2022.
What Is Voice Search?
In case you haven't asked Siri about the weather lately, here's a quick refresher: Voice search is a technology that allows users to make internet search queries with voice commands.
It's made possible by voice assistants — the AI-powered helpers to whom users pose their questions. The most widely used examples include:
With their help, anyone who owns a smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, or laptop can ask almost any question and receive an answer within seconds. From checking the current weather to settling an argument over a celebrity's height to discovering the exact elevation of Machu Picchu, voice search can deliver.
How Voice Search Affects SEO
To understand why voice search matters for your brand's success, consider how a voice assistant obtains all its knowledge: internet search. (After all, Alexa isn't explicitly programmed to know which of your city's pet grooming shops are the best).
But that wouldn't matter if no one used voice search to begin with, right? Fortunately for our voice assistant friends, that's not the case. eMarketer predicted in 2020 that 128 million people would use a voice assistant at least monthly.
And as our First Page founder, Jeanna, mentioned in another article on the topic, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of 25- to 49-year-olds speak to voice assistants on a daily basis:
So suffice it to say that a large portion of the population is already using voice search, and even more will do so in 2022 and the following years.
As a result, voice search has a direct impact on SEO. Simply put, if you want to reach as many relevant search engine users as possible, then you need to prioritize voice search optimization.
How to Optimize Your SEO Strategy for Voice Search in 2022
If you've decided to take voice search off the back burner in 2022 (good call!), then you can benefit from implementing a few straightforward but impactful tactics into your SEO strategy.
Answer Users' Questions
First and foremost, keep in mind that people typically use voice search by asking questions. For instance, it's easy to see why someone would say, "Siri, what's the best pizza place near me," rather than "Siri, best pizza restaurant within 10 miles." The former is natural and conversational, while the latter would feel strange and robotic to say out loud.
So with that in mind, you'll need to answer your audience's questions directly if you want them to find you via voice search. To find out what they want to know, Google Analytics is a great place to start. There, you can see the queries with which users find your brand's site.
You'd also be wise to take a look at Google's People Also Ask (PAA) section for any topic your content covers. As its name suggests, this will show you the questions that Google users frequently ask about the topic at hand:
By answering real questions relevant to your brand's content, you can capture more visitors via voice search and provide them with the information they want to know.
Build Authority and Trustworthiness
It takes more than informational content to capitalize on voice search — you'll also need search engines to view your site as being authoritative and trustworthy. This will increase the chances of it being used to answer voice search queries.
Remember, Google isn't only interested in providing users with results that include the right keywords. Its AI-powered algorithms are also designed to prioritize sites whose statements can be trusted.
As Google explains:
Beyond matching the words in your query with relevant documents on the web, Search algorithms also aim to prioritize the most reliable sources available. To do this, our systems are designed to identify signals that can help determine which pages demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic.
One of the best ways to increase your brand's expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (or E-A-T for short) is by building quality inbound links and creating a logical internal linking structure. And of course, always work to ensure that your site's content is accurate, honest, and well-researched.
Strengthen Your Local Presence
Voice search optimization is important for all brands, but it can especially benefit those with a local presence. That's because people love using voice search for location-based purposes. One study found that within a 12-month period, more than half of consumers used voice search to find information for a local business:
So if your brand caters to one or more specific locations, be sure to emphasize that fact in its digital content and always keep its Google My Business profile fleshed out and up to date. (And don't forget to update your other listings too, from Yelp to Yellow Pages to Bing Places.)
Even if your brand doesn't have brick-and-mortar locations or cater to people in a specific area, you can still capture traffic from local voice search by creating more localized content.
Keep It Natural
Search engine algorithms are now so advanced that they rival humans in terms of language comprehension. Google's Multitask Unified Model (MUM), for instance, can understand 75 different languages and detect nuanced contextual clues.
As such, all voice search optimization efforts should include an emphasis on providing natural-sounding content. Search engines will be able to tell what types of questions your content can answer, so there's no reason to add keywords where they don't belong or use awkwardly worded sentences in the name of SEO.
Instead, focus on creating content that anyone can easily understand, answer users' frequent questions in a simple and succinct manner, and always cater to humans rather than bots.
Bottom Line: Let Your Brand Speak for Itself with Voice Search Optimization
Whether you're in the midst of future-proofing your site, working to appeal to a local audience, or simply looking to maximize your brand's growth, you can greatly benefit from voice search optimization.
So start making friends with Alexa and Siri (et al.), and get ready to enjoy more traffic, leads, and sales in 2022.