Adjusting Your SEO Strategy for Voice Search

January 22, 2018
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Okay Google, how do I optimize for voice search?

Technology’s evolving, the world is changing, and only those that stay on top of the game will outlast the big dog competitors. Voice search is definitely not a new concept. Google Mobile app had search by voice as far back as 2008. But the growing adoption and continuous usage of it is new. Sunday Pichai, CEO of Google, stated that 20% of mobile queries are searched by voice and the number is only increasing. When someone conducts a typed search query in a browser, multiple results appear. And up until recently, marketers and businesses did everything they could to end up on the top of that list. Voice search results are drastically different. Instead of providing the user multiple options to peruse, voice search only relays one answer.

So if you’re not number one. You’re number zero.

Thanks to a surge of voice devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod, expect almost ⅓ of web searches to take place without a screen over the next 3 years. And interconnectivity between various devices is one of the interesting parts of voice search technology. You can begin searching one device and have it synced to the other.

Voice searches are completely different than keyboard search queries. Voice search tend to be wordier and have a more conversational tone. For example, instead of typing in “dui defense attorney in Philadelphia” you may ask a voice assistant a more natural phrased question such as “what do I do if I was arrested for driving under the influence?” This means you have to adjust your SEO strategy. And if you don’t have one yet, begin implementing one immediately.

There have been some major improvements in voice search:

Compound Queries –  questions can be followed up from previous questions with the same context implied. If you ask “where was the Superbowl last year?” you can follow up with “what team won?” and the voice search tools will understand what you are referring to. And because we live in a highly connected world, voice search will cater answers based on your apps and previous searches you conducted. That’s why it’s crucial you have a detailed re-marketing strategy in place.

Based on Locationlocal searches are exceptionally prevalent, especially for voice searches. Mobile voice searches are 3 times more likely to be local than text. As a result, there is a huge opportunity for businesses and site owners to rank especially high for local voice searches. Local businesses are the priority when it comes to location-dependent keywords. For example, a user can ask “where is city hall?” or “where can I find an attorney?” and the voice search tools will answer based on your current location.

There is a special section that appears on top of the search results that indicates the nearest and highest-rated businesses relevant to that search. So if your business is not practicing local SEO, optimizing business listings and implementing reviews, you’ll be missing out on massive opportunity in obtaining more customers.  Make sure you not only have listings with Google My Business and other directories, but ensure all the specific contact information is the same across all listings.  Bear in mind that the business category you choose can affect the type of results you’ll appear in.

Based on Your Informationtechnology knows you a lot more than you may think. If you ask a question such as “What’s my address?” or even “What’s my name”, the voice search devices will understand that “my” refers to you.

How to Optimize For Voice Search

Tip One. Check it Out for Yourself

There is no better way to optimize your website than to see the kind of results it delivers yourself. If you look for different questions that might bring users to your website, you’ll see how you rank. I put myself in the shoes of someone who was just charged for a DUI. I asked my Android device, “okay Google, what do I do if I have a DUI?”.

The voice assistant didn’t bring me any lawyer results immediately. I then asked if I needed an attorney and it showed me the top results for DUI criminal attorneys near me.


Put yourself in the shoes of your clients, what types of questions would they be asking? Once you devise a list of questions, you can begin optimizing your site and web pages to best answer those questions.

Tip Two. Add Natural Language to Your Content

Because voice search queries are more conversational than typed ones, make sure you avoid complex legal jargon in your content. Focus on a more informal and conversational tone throughout your web pages and blog posts.

While short-tail keywords will still be relevant in many ways, voice search is turning towards long-tail keywords. For example, instead of typing “New York personal injury attorney” on a computer, you will probably ask something like “How do I get the best compensation for injuries in a car accident?”  The first step for adjusting your SEO is to research what phrases are bringing people to your page and add in some natural-language and long-tail keywords. Especially for SEM campaigns, bid on keywords based on what action you want people to take.

Tip Three. FAQ Pages

If you’re struggling finding ways to weave in natural language into your content, build out an FAQ page. Voice searches are often looking to fulfill some kind of immediate answer to a question. Your website should have an extensive section that answers not only frequently asked questions but even more nuanced, complex ones.  Make sure you aim for natural-sounding questions and phrases.

Not only will you get ranked within SERPs for those questions, you will begin building a trust with your visitors by providing benefits and value they need. For some law firms, like criminal defense attorneys, it may make sense to build out many different FAQ pages, for each area of practice. It can seem like a daunting task, but creating these individual pages and specific snippets of content can help your law firm’s digital presence incrementally. It can also increase your chances of appearing in a Google “Featured Snippet”.

Tip Four. Structure Your Schema Markup

Schema markup is code you add to your back end of your web page and content which helps search engines understand the context of your content. It tells search engines what your data actually means, not just what it says. It is crucial for your site but especially for voice search as it makes it easier for search engines to accurately parse your content and understand its context.

Tip Five. Include Featured Snippets

A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s search query displayed on top of Google’s SERPs.  It is extracted from a webpage and includes the page’s title and URL and can be a paragraph, list or table. Featured snippets are engaging and increase traffic by 20-30%.  It’s therefore a good strategy to tweak your content to make it engaging enough for Google to feature in a snippet. Google favors content that includes:

  • Popular questions your audience is asking
  • Questions and answer pages
  • Content that clearly answers questions

If you want to appear in a feature snippet, you need to focus on providing in-depth answers. These answers should be simple and easy to digest. Especially for attorneys, this may be difficult to do as you’re accustomed to legal talk. But dumbing it down is crucial for not just visitors but for Google. It’s a good strategy to provide the core of your answer in the introduction so that Google can crawl and recognize a problem solver instantly. But you also want to entice the visitor to read more so they are motivated to click on the url and land on your page.

Let’s say you’re a personal injury attorney and you want to write a blog post about what to do when roads are slick. You want to add the best tips and practices for driving in wet conditions but then add an interesting segue into something that craves the reader to learn more. Keep your sentences short and concise and include the question itself somewhere at the beginning of your post.  

Tip Six. Mobile Friendly Content

We’ve already stressed how important it is to have a mobile friendly website and how crucial content creation is. Combining the two in one is equally as important. Because most voice search conducted is on a mobile device, you want to ensure your site is not just mobile responsive, but mobile friendly as well. Google indexes pages with its mobile-first index. Use Google’s Mobile-friendly Test to see if your site works well on mobile devices.

Mobile friendly and mobile responsive are not synonymous. Your blog posts can render on a mobile device but if it’s not presented in a user-friendly way, your visitor will most likely leave your site immediately. This not only affects your bounce rate, but has a directly negative impact on your reputation. Users are not that easily pleased today and it’s unlikely they will return if they had a bad experience with your site. Whether it was broken links, large navigation, poor image sizing or anything else that makes it cumbersome, people won’t forgive a bad experience. Slow page load is another deal breaker. In fact, 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load.

Reasons for Voice Search Increase

Google started exploring conversational search decades ago. And made extreme headways in the Hummingbird Update by changing the way the algorithm handles semantic search. As technology advances and voice search continues to grow, the voice recognition industry will have an estimated $601 million market by 2019.

People are using voice for a variety of different reasons.  A high usage of voice search is for directions, business hours or phone numbers of local businesses. But people also use voice search while conducting other activities such as driving, cooking or watching tv. The primary reason for using voice search is because it’s useful when their hands or vision is occupied.

Voice search also varies by age. The majority of teens admit to using voice search. “Who” questions were the main types of questions asked through voice search but “how” and “when” questions have been rising.  Attorneys should be aware of voice search trends and how this is going to affect their law firm. Since the number of voice searches will continue to grow, lawyers will need to optimize for voice search.  You want to ensure your firm shows up for individuals who are searching for law-related facts or legal services. Attorneys are local businesses but not like restaurants and retailers. Make sure you stay on top of trends and implement best SEO strategies for voice search.