optimize a website for voice search

Do you want new customers to be able to find your business? Then you need to know how to optimize your business for voice search, which is one of the most popular ways of searching.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Voice search isn’t quite taking over the search world yet—but it’s getting closer. Last year, more than half (58%) of consumers used voice search to find local business information, according to BrightLocal’s Voice Search for Local Business Study 2018. Almost half (46%) of voice search users searched for a local business daily; 28% used voice search to search for a local business about once a week.

Here’s what you need to know about voice search trends, uses and actions and how to boost your business in voice search results.

Who uses voice search?

People of all ages use voice search, although younger consumers are more likely to use voice search to find information on local businesses than older consumers.

  • 76% of consumers ages 18 to 34 had used voice search to find information for a local business in the last 12 months; 15% had not used voice search but said they would consider using it in the future.
  • 64% of consumers ages 35 to 54 had used voice search to find information for a local business in the last 12 months; 24% had not used voice search but said they would consider using it in the future.
  • 37% of consumers ages 55 and older had used voice search to find information for a local business in the last 12 months; 33% had not used voice search but said they would consider using it in the future.

How do consumers do a voice search?

According to BrightLocal, smartphones are the most popular tool for voice searches for local businesses, and smart speakers are the least commonly used. That’s probably because almost everyone owns a smartphone and not everyone owns a smart speaker. However, people who own smart speakers use voice search more frequently—maybe because announcing your search to a smart speaker in the privacy of your home is easier than saying it on a crowded subway.

  • 74% of smartphone voice search users search for local businesses at least once per week.
  • 76% of smart speaker voice search users search for local businesses at least weekly; of those, 53% search every day.

What do consumers use voice search for?

Consumers are most likely to voice search for food-related businesses. The most common voice search industries are:

  • Restaurants/cafés (51% of consumers)
  • Grocery stores (41%)
  • Food delivery (35%)
  • Clothing stores (32%)
  • Hotels/bed and breakfasts (30%)

If you’re in one of these industries, you really need to optimize your website for voice search.

Consumers use voice search for several purposes, including checking inventory, checking business hours, making restaurant reservations and even making a purchase.

  • 54% make a restaurant reservation
  • 46% find out prices of a local business’s products/services
  • 40% ask which products are in stock
  • 32% buy directly from a business

What do consumers do after making a voice search?

Voice searches drive actions for local businesses. After making a voice search:

  • 28% of consumers call the business
  • 27% visit the business’s website
  • 19% visit the business in person

How to optimize a website for voice search

Now that you know how important optimizing for voice search is, here’s how to do it.

  • Get local. If you’re a local business like a hair salon or insurance agency, be sure your site is listed on Google My Business and other local search directories, and that your listing is updated, complete and accurate. Also make sure your location, hours and phone number are correct and visible on your website. Put location-related keywords in your website content, tags and image tags. Learn more about how to optimize a website for local search.
  • Use multiple-word keywords. Called long-tail keywords, these have four words or more. You can use Google Keyword Planner to find them (Neil Patel has a good explanation of how to find long-tail keywords). People using voice search speak in sentences so their queries have more words than the average search. Your website content should incorporate long-tail keywords that sound like a question customers would ask. For example, a fitness studio could use long-tail keywords like “best health club for men” to capture voice searchers asking, “Where’s the best health club for men around here?”
  • Use natural language. If your website content is written in a conversational tone, it’s more likely to pop up in voice search results. Keep your website at an easy reading level such as 8th grade. Use short sentences and concise writing; voice search results typically look for quick answers. You can use the Hemingway app to check for readability and make sure your content is easy for everyone to understand.
  • Add questions and answers on your business’s website. People using voice search ask questions, like “What pizza place has vegan pizza?” as opposed to typing in keywords such as “vegan pizza 90210.” Creating a FAQ page is a good way to start developing question and answer content. However, you can also create product or service descriptions, blog posts and other content that answers questions.
  • Optimize your website for mobile use. Mobile voice searches often take place when the user is out and about. Your site needs to load fast on a mobile device or the user will move on to the next local business recommendation. Google has a free mobile-friendly website test.

Get more tips on optimizing a website for voice search.

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