Voice Search Optimization for Small Business

voice search optimization for small business

Not so many years ago, the idea of talking to our phones to search for things online or to know the weather forecast was science fiction, but now it is our reality. The staggering improvements in voice search technology and its increasing popularity have led to the surge of Voice Search Optimization (VSO) and the need to adjust our SEO strategies to please Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant. 

This blog will cover what Voice Search Optimization is, why it’s important for small business marketing, and how to optimize your content to rank in the search results whenever a potential customer asks a voice assistant for products and services like yours.

What Is Voice Search Optimization?

VSO is a subdivision of Search Engine Optimization that focuses on improving a website’s ranking for voice-based searches. Voice search optimization aims to cater to this growing use of voice queries and make websites more accessible to voice search users.

The main difference between regular SEO and VSO is that the way we phrase our queries differs from our written ones. For example, if you’re looking for a Chinese restaurant nearby, you’re likely to type “Chinese restaurants near me” on Google or other search engines, but you’re more likely to phrase something like “Hey Siri, tell me which Chinese restaurants are nearby.”

We talk to voice assistants as if we were talking to real people. So, we have to optimize our content with a conversational approach.

Why Should You Care About VSO?

Regular SEO is complicated enough, so you’re probably wondering if this whole voice search optimization is even worth the effort. Well, we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves:

  • More than 1 billion voice searches take place monthly. (Demand Sage)
  • People think it is convenient: 71% of users prefer voice search online. (PwC)
  • 52% of smart speaker owners want to receive info about sales, deals and promotions from brands. (Google)
  • 52% of users use voice search while driving. (Social Media Today)
  • If your business is local, it’s a must: nearly 50% of voice search users are looking for local businesses.
  • It’s here to stay: An estimated 4.2 billion voice assistants are actively in use in 2023, and that number is expected to double in 2024. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular voice assistants:
Main digital voice search assistants

Source: Backlinko via Demand Sage

Adopting Voice Search Optimization for small business is no longer a skippable plus; it has become necessary to stay competitive in the evolving digital landscape. 

The Process Behind Voice Search

Before diving into VSO’s actual ins and outs, let’s get a glimpse of how voice search works. Although it’s a complex process, having a basic idea of how it works to guide your VSO efforts is important.

Voice search integrates machine learning, AI, and automatic speech recognition technology (ASR) every time a user makes a voice search query. Here’s an overview of how it works:

  • Recording: After the user makes a voice search query, the device starts recording the user’s voice input. Modern voice recognition devices also remove background noise.
  • Speech Recognition: On the remote server, the audio data is processed using ASR technology. ASR software converts the spoken words into text. This step involves complex algorithms that analyze the audio data to decipher words accurately.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): Once the spoken words are transcribed into text, natural language processing algorithms come into play. NLP helps the system understand the user’s query’s context, intent, and meaning. This involves identifying keywords, sentence structure, and language patterns.
  • Query Formulation: With the user’s query understood, the system formulates a search query based on the interpreted text. The query is then sent to a search engine or a specific app for results.
  • Response Generation: The search engine or application returns results or generates a response. This response can be a voice assistant’s spoken answer or a screen’s visual display if the device has one.

For marketing purposes, focusing on the natural, conversational tone voice search technology is a must for VSO.

How to Optimize Your Content for Voice Search

Without further ado, these are the key considerations you should keep in mind when optimizing your content to rank in voice search results:

Keyword research

Due to the conversational nature of voice search, focus on long-tail keywords, conversational phrases, and question keywords. These are longer, highly specific keywords that tend to have lower search volume, but they’re easier to rank for and have higher chances of being used by people with high purchase intent.

Here are some examples of keywords that are oriented for voice search:

  • How to do tenant screening
  • Where are the best Italian restaurants in Calgary
  • Where are the best doughnuts near me

Many free and paid tools can help you find your keywords, but Google’s autocomplete function is a solid way to start and get many ideas based on what people search:

Create Content to Answer Your Audience Questions

Create content that answers the questions you target as keywords and provides value. Voice search users often seek quick and informative responses, so giving a condensed answer to the main question your blog post explores at the beginning is an excellent way to increase your chances of ranking in voice search queries.

Creating content keeping your audience’s questions in mind can also help you to appear in Google featured snippets, the short pieces of content that Google shows at the top of organic search results. Featured snippets are pulled from websites with content that ranks high for the search query and provides a concise and direct answer to what the user is looking for. 

Featured snippets come in several formats, including paragraph, lists, images, or video, depending on the nature of the query.

Voice assistants often read featured snippets, which can boost your website’s organic traffic. 

In addition to regular content creation, including a FAQ section on your website to answer the queries you know most of your clients have regarding your products, services, or industry is also a good idea.

Schema Markup

Add schema markup to provide search engines with additional context about your content. 

Schema markup is an on-page SEO technique that adds code to your website to help search engines categorize your website more accurately and increase your chances of appearing in voice search results and SEO in general. 

Adding schema markup will create enhanced key information about your website that will help the search engine bots crawl your website better and put your content higher in the search results.

Websites with Schema Markup give extra information that makes them stand out.

Some relevant information Schema Markup can showcase include reviews, product pricing and availability, business hours, event information, and more. 

Work on Your Local SEO

Having your website optimized for local SEO is essential for voice search, as this increases the likelihood of your business being recommended by voice assistants for local queries.

Ensure your business information, address, and contact details are accurate. If your business isn’t listed in the main business listings like Google Business Profile, Bing Business Listing, or Yelp, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to get new customers, especially if you own a business with a physical location that serves a specific area, like a restaurant or a beauty salon. 

Voice Search Is the Future

Voice search optimization is still an evolving field, but its convenience and accuracy have already made it the preferred way of seeking information online for many. Strengthening your SEO strategy with voice search-oriented tactics has become fundamental to staying relevant in the digital age, and has established the dominance of valuable, accurate and actionable content as the key to engaging users’ attention and enticing them to choose one brand over another.