In a 2018 study, PwC found that 77% of consumers prefer to use a voice assistant when searching for something online [1] Over three-quarters of consumers think that using a voice search tool such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri is the smarter way to find information and shop online.

Successful businesses are already well aware of the need to optimise their websites for voice search. Here we look briefly at Google featured snippets – the key to winning voice traffic – and give some SEO tips for optimising a web site for voice search.

Google featured snippets

When someone asks a question in Google, it shows key results in a block at the top of the results page. This is called a featured snippet and contains a summary of the answer, a hyperlink to the webpage, its title and URL.

Clearly, this is important for users looking at results on a screen, but it’s critical when they are using an assistant such as the Amazon Echo as the device will then read the summary answer out loud. Once a web page has “won” the featured snippet for that question, it will continue to “own” it until a competitor provides a better answer or a better-phrased question.

Do I have to re-think my website for voice search?

Not necessarily. Pages that already rank in Google’s top 10 for a search can win a featured snippet with only small changes. Low-ranking pages can also be promoted by optimising them for voice search. It’s worth putting in the effort too, a high-performing page can own many featured snippets.

What are the SEO tips for voice search?

Think about the kinds of questions people could ask that a page on your website would answer. You might design a new page by starting with a question, perhaps as a sub-heading, and following it with a single paragraph answer. You can then expand on the answer by giving more detail. For an existing site, you might consider an FAQ section, which provides well-phrased questions and good concise answers

Anticipate questions that are spoken, rather than typed. Speakers tend to use longer questions containing at least three words (called long-tail keywords).

If your business has a local presence, think about the people in your area and what they would be searching for. Add your business on Google My Business

Make your website responsive and mobile-friendly. Many people use voice search on a smartphone so it’s essential that they can see your pages without resizing. Your pages also need to load quickly.

Voice search results will also include social media posts so it’s important to keep your Facebook, Twitter and other social profiles up to date and to post regularly.

In order to “win” and maintain featured snippet ownership, it’s important to:

  • Keep the page up to date and interesting
  •  Make sure the question and answer are both on your page and will fit in the answer box
  • Match the page content to the snippet format

Winning featured snippets

Optimising your website for voice search shouldn’t require major surgery, but rather thinking about the questions that end users might ask, how they will phrase them and by providing good, concise answers

 

[1] https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/library/consumer-intelligence-series/voice-assistants.html