user experience & design

Optimizing your website to rank higher for voice search

Chris Powers
June 26th, 2020

woman sitting on sofa using a phone voice assistant

Voice recognition software has come a long way. Initially popularized with consumers by Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, voice recognition technology has seen a boom in popularity. Often attributed to the advent of smartphone assistants and the near ubiquity of smart devices in the home, voice recognition technology represents an essential portal for consumers to interact and engage with web content. According to a 2019 study on mobile voice usage trends by Perficient, voice is the number two choice in mobile search, eclipsed solely by using a mobile browser.

So why are consumers turning to voice searches as opposed to traditional, manual queries? Well, for one, it’s faster. Simply being able to state a voice command and then enter search terms verbally is quicker and more convenient for users. Adobe notes that 94 percent of users think that voice technology is not only easy to use, but it saves time and improves the quality of life.

As users grow accustomed to voice commands as methods for engaging with their mobile and smart devices, it makes sense that they would expect the same from search engines. As more and more consumers utilize voice search to find what they are looking for on the web, it’s essential that brands and companies create an optimization strategy for voice search in order to get ahead of the curve.

Convenience Leads to Competition

Just as with traditional, text-based searches, ranking near the top is essential when it comes to voice queries. However, with voice searches, users aren’t confronted with pages and pages of results they can easily scroll through on a screen. Voice searches return limited results comparatively—with some only featuring one result—which means ranking at or near the top is fundamental to users arriving on your web page. Marketer John Morabito refers to this coveted slot as “position V,” or the “featured voice search result read aloud by either Alexa, Google, or any other voice search assistant.” With fierce competition vying for precious few results, it is imperative that brands and companies embrace optimizing web content for voice search. There are a number of improvements you can make to your website more voice search-friendly.

young girl laying on the grass outside with headphones speaking to a voice assistant on mobile phone

Improve Your Page Speed

This cannot be overstated: the speed of your site has a direct impact on your appearance in search results. Page speed is a ranking factor for all Google searches, including voice searches. Put simply, pages that load faster will rank higher.

This is especially critical when you’re competing for limited real estate in terms of voice search results. Voice searchers demand immediate results. Your slow website could mean your content won’t be used to return results for voice searches. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to gauge the speed of your pages and look for where you can make improvements.

Make Your Content More Conversational

Voice searches are characterized by conversational language. Because users aren’t sitting in front of a keyboard spelling out their search using text, they speak more casually and colloquially. In order for your content to appear in voice search results, it needs to reflect this. It looks for ways to improve your existing content to make it flow naturally and reflect how humans actually talk. This is not only fundamental to appearing in voice search results, but to having an engaging, understandable brand personality.

infographic explaining voice search optimization

Q&A is Your Friend

To make your content more voice search-friendly, it’s important to structure it around concise questions and answers to reflect the typical structure of a voice search. According to Backlinko, the typical voice search result is only 29 words in length. Structuring your content as neat questions and answers—or in FAQ format—will help Google pull out your content to easily match to an equally concise and straightforward voice search query.

Improve Content Readability

In addition to making your web content more conversational, it’s important that you improve its readability as well. In traditional SEO, the readability score of your page’s content impacts its ranking. This applies to voice searches as well. A study by SEMrush indicated that a readability score of 8 on the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale is ideal for results gathered from voice search queries. This means your content should be written at an eighth grade level.

woman at home speaking to amazon echo device

Reimaging Your Content for Voice Search

Essentially an extension of an effective text-based SEO strategy, establishing a solid approach to voice search optimization will ensure you rank higher and connect with users. The speed and convenience of voice search mean that we will likely see it continue to grow. Getting in on the ground floor with a deliberate strategy means your website will be able to hold its own in an increasingly competitive environment.

Looking to implement an ambitious voice search optimization strategy for your website? Look no further than Codal. Our engineers and UX/UI designers build robust, scalable websites that convert. We can deliver an impressive approach to voice search that will ensure your site ranks high and reaches users when they need it most.

Want to learn more about our voice user interface capabilities? Get in touch with Codal today.

Chris Powers

Chris Powers

Chris is a Content Marketing Specialist at Codal. With a background in journalism and marketing, Chris has written about a variety of tech topics, including open source, fintech, and cybersecurity. Chris loves taking on new challenges with just a pen, paper, and his brain.


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