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Optimize for Voice Search

How To Optimize Content For Voice Search

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Over the past decade, voice search has exploded onto the digital space, and its impact is only growing. Including voice search optimization in our existing SEO strategies has become a necessity, rather than an option.

Voice recognition is constantly improving and nearing 100% accuracy, and people are now comfortable asking questions and making demands of their voice assistants and their smart speakers. While there are a number of voice assistants, Apple’s Siri dominates mobile (44%), while Amazon’s Alexa is the smart speaker of choice at home (64.7%).

Here’s how to optimize your content for voice search by optimizing for natural language and long tail keywords, anticipating questions people ask, aiming to rank in Google and Bing’s answer box, and optimizing for local search.


Optimize For Long Tail Keywords & Natural Language

Google has found that nearly 70% of requests to the Google Assistant are expressed in natural language, not the typical keywords people type in a web search. While we’ve been recommending a smart mix of short and long tail keywords for SEO for some time, now it’s even more important to optimize for conversational language.

This idea is further underscored by Google’s latest announcement that its natural language processing model, BERT, will manage search queries. BERT is better able to understand the context of queries and make sense of the nuances of natural language — an especially helpful factor in voice search.

Here’s a great example directly from Google for the phrase “can you get medicine for someone at the pharmacy?”

These are Google’s search results before and after BERT:

Voice Search Example
Image: Understanding searches better than ever before

According to Google: “With the BERT model, we can better understand that “for someone” is an important part of this query, whereas previously we missed the meaning, with general results about filling prescriptions.”


Optimize For Anticipated Questions

When it comes to creating new content, you need to know what kinds of questions people are asking their voice assistants. Once you know what your customers are looking for, you can create relevant, helpful content that answers them.

Experiment by inputting a known search query for your business in Google, then scroll down to the “people also ask” section to brainstorm more ideas. If your subject matter experts can do a better job answering these questions, then plan to create some stellar content that is optimized to rank in the answer box.


Optimize For The Answer Box

Also called featured snippets or position 0, both Google and Bing search engines feature an answer box at the top of the SERPs. When it comes to voice search, by default Alexa gets her answers from Bing, while Siri uses Google.

Creating content to answer anticipated questions, and optimizing it for the answer box, can boost your chances of your page being returned in a voice search.

Here are some specific tips for optimizing your content for the answer box:

  • Include the question you’re answering in the URL, title tag, and H1 tag (e.g. “how to roast pumpkin seeds”).
  • Include a short version of the answer directly below the H1 tag. The average featured snippet is 45 words, and the average answer read aloud in a voice search is 29 words. Keep your short answer in this range.
  • Include an even shorter version of the answer in your meta description. While your meta description can be any length, Google truncates them to around 155-160 characters.
  • Include a relevant image toward the top of the page, optimized with a keyword in the image name and alt text.
  • Expand your answer to the question with your content.


Optimize For Local Search

Voice search is often location-specific (“where’s the best sushi near me?” or “what coffee shops are open now in Atlanta?”). In fact, 46% of voice search users look for a local business on a daily basis. Because our smart phones and speakers know our location (when enabled), these voice searches will return business listings for local top-rated spots.

To optimize for local search:

  • Claim your business listing on Google and Bing and ensure all information is accurate
  • Encourage honest customer reviews (do not buy them or write fake ones!)
  • Ensure your NAP (name, address, phone) is accurate and consistent anywhere it is listed online
  • Update special and seasonal hours as needed
  • Optimize your website content, including title tags and meta descriptions, with location keywords


To stay relevant in a competitive space, marketers have to stay on top of rising trends, and voice search is here to stay. PixelPeople specializes in SEO and content development, and we know precisely how to complement your existing SEO strategy with voice search optimization. If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us or ask a question online, and let’s get started!

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