Voice Search, SEO, and the Importance of a Featured Snippet

Date: January 8, 2020

“Alexa, when is the next leap year?” 

“Okay Google, where’s the nearest grocery store?”

“Siri, what date is Thanksgiving next year?” 

“Cortana, what does SEO stand for?”

Chances are you’ve made a voice search on at least one device. Our phones, speakers, tablets, even some televisions can perform accurate voice searches. With so many voice assistants, from the Amazon Echo to Google Home, it’s no surprise voice search queries are dominating. 

As we enter the new decade, the popularity and frequency of voice search will only continue to rise. Voice search optimization is becoming increasingly important, so web pages need to be specifically optimized for these queries, and the team at 9Sail are experts at doing so. 

Voice Search and SEO

People speak to their digital assistants differently than they type into their search engines. As we speak, our tone and word usage becomes more conversational and query based. 

If you were sitting at your computer, you might type in “frozen yogurt” but you might ask your phone “Hey Siri, what’s the best frozen yogurt shop near me?” The intent of the query doesn’t change, but the wordage does. 

All bloggers need to account for an increase in query based searches, but that’s not the only element of SEO they should be considering when discussing voice queries. 

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords, or keywords consisting of four or more words, are not a concept exclusive to voice searches, but they become much more important with them. When performing keyword research, take your focus keywords and look for recommended keywords made up of longer phrases.

With an increasing percentage of all searches becoming voice searches, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to have your site rank. But it will never rank if you’re not utilizing long-tail keywords as part of your SEO strategy. 

As people speak casually to their virtual assistants, bloggers should also start writing in a more conversational manner. Many writers love to show off their vocabulary, but the focus is shifting towards more relaxed, informal writing style.

A good tip to writers is for them to read their words out loud. You’ll be able to hear if it sounds to stuffy and formal. Try to simplify it and write it in a way that everyone can understand. 

Having good, conversational writing that optimizes long-tail keywords is a great start towards getting your site optimized for people using voice search. 

Use Schema to Your Benefit

Schema, also known as structured data, is special coding that speaks to search engines. There is an expansive list of industry specific schema you may want to consider implementing within your site. 

As Google crawls through your site, the Schema can draw its attention to a specific element, whether that be reviews, hours of operations, upcoming events, or whatever specific schema you think is most important. 

With Schema correctly executed on your site, you’ll have a more likely chance of ranking with voice search, since the crawlers will have an easier time finding useful information on your site!

Ensure your NAP is uniform across the web

Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) need to be the same everywhere it appears online. If Google finds two different phone numbers for your business, that raises a potential red flag for them, and your site may not rank as highly as it could. 

A great way to ensure that your NAP is uniform is to get a Google My Business listing. This is a customizable business profile that helps you interact with potential customers on Google Maps and Search. 

While Google My Business is a great starting point, what if your business already has inconsistencies with its NAP that you’d like to get resolved? There are many digital knowledge web management systems, like Yext, that specialize in data integration across platforms.

When your Google assistant, Alexa, or Siri notice that your business has a consistent NAP across multiple websites, there is a stronger likelihood that you will rank in voice searches, since a uniform NAP is a great indicator of a site’s authoritativeness. 

Shoot for the Featured Snippet

A virtual assistant speaker rests on an open laptop.

Even if you don’t know what a featured snippet it, chances are you’ve seen one on Google. Also known as Position Zero, a featured snippet is the small box of text that appears above the ranked pages in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). 

Featured snippets are what voice searches are going after, so you’ll want to try to get your site ranked as a featured snippet whenever possible. But how?

Featured snippets usually answer specific questions. You’ll want to make sure that your web page is answering a pertinent question. Use your keyword analyzer to ensure that your page is utilizing the highly trafficked keywords. Also make sure that your post is written in casual, every day language. 

Using schema can help indicate that there’s useful data in your piece, so when the search engine spiders are crawling through your site, it’s more likely they’ll find the information and present it in a featured snippet. 

Once your post comes up as a featured snippet on a SERP, the Google Home, Amazon Echo, or iPhone will likely use your featured snippet to answer a voice search question relating to your optimized post. 

Voice search isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As speech recognition technology improves, more and more people will be using their mobile devices and smart speakers to answer their questions. 

Do you need help optimizing your site for voice search? Reach out to the team at 9Sail today!