How Do I Change My SEO Strategy to be Found in Voice Search?

Have you ever asked Siri, Cortana, or Google Now for directions? Maybe you’ve asked Alexa on your Echo device for the latest news. This is known as ‘voice search.’

Voice search is on the rapid rise and people are wondering, “what do I need to do to be found in search results when someone uses voice search?” Some have secretly hoped that voice search would eliminate the need for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). However, it’s still as relevant as ever.

Because SEO is always changing, businesses can’t expect to stay at the top if they’re not willing to update their methods. While voice search is not altogether revolutionizing how you do SEO, it is making a big impact that will require marketers to shift their focus. Let’s talk about what some of those focus shifts will look like.

Focus on long-tail keywords

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to be referring to long-tail keywords. It’s important to understand what a long-tail keyword is. Unlike traditional keywords, such as “website design,” a long-tail keyword focuses on the specific needs of a user at that time. Using the website design example, someone may be searching a geographically based keyword like “website design in Fort Collins” or a specific need such as “cheap website design for local businesses.”

For a while now, marketers have focused on ranking for one or a number of different keywords. However, with voice search, this may no longer be enough. This growing method of web search is making it more necessary for marketers to create their content with their users in mind.

Of course, that statement in itself is nothing new. We’ve talked many times about how important user-focused content is. However, with voice search, marketers are learning how important it is to focus on how users might search for something conversationally rather than just what types of keywords they may enter into a search engine.

To explain, think about how much more quickly you can speak than you can type. That’s why people making searches requiring a keyboard might only stick to a small number of keywords. However, someone doing a voice search on their phone is likely going to use a longer search phrase just like they would if they were talking to a person.

So basically, marketers will want to use long-tail keywords, keywords that are very specific and structured more like conversational phrases, that users may search.

Here is another example of a long-tail keyword:

“Learn Jiu jitsu in Windsor Colorado”

Notice this is a phrase someone may have used in voice search: “Where can I learn Jiu Jitsu in Windsor, Colorado?”

This Jiu Jitsu academy stands a far better chance ranking for this long-tail keyword than they do for just “jiu jitsu.”

How can you do this?

  • Find out what types of long-tail keywords are commonly searched in relation to your industry.
    • A great way to do this is to brainstorm search queries with your team, especially with members who interact with your customers/clients on a consistent basis.
    • Learn how people less familiar with your industry refer to your industry and use those terms in your long-tail keywords.
    • You can use a tool like Answer the Public to help you find what people might search for.
    • If you are set up with Google Analytics, click on queries under Google’s search console reports to find exact phrases people entered to find your site.
    • Use Google Trends to better understand what topics are “hot” right now.
  • After your research, include the long-tail keywords you found in your content. Because of how natural and conversational long-tail keywords can be, it should be easier than ever to include them.
  • Remember to think like people, not robots. Choose keyword structures that people would use in real conversations.
  • Don’t bury what users may be looking for. Make the purpose and intent of your content clear, including your keywords in the first sentence as near the beginning as possible whenever you can. In this case, if we wanted to rank for “hacked social media accounts,” we would do well to have that phrase not just in the headline, but also in the first sentence at the beginning:

Use Questions in Your Content

It only makes sense if you are working to make your content valuable to users that you would use their questions in your content to help them find you. Clearly and simply (in language they can understand), address the questions and problems your users have.

When making a voice search, people tend to ask specific questions and they’re looking for simple answers. Google is going to do its best to give users what they’re searching for. If your content doesn’t seem to match up, you probably won’t make it to the top.

How do you do this?

Include the who, how, what, when, where, and why’s in your content. Who and how are the most common types of questions searched.

And remember, focus on the user. Give them what they are looking for.

Even if you have all the right kinds of questions in your content but you don’t offer the valuable information people need, they will quickly navigate away from your website. The percentage of people who visit your site that end up leaving your site after just viewing that one page is known as your bounce rate. When your bounce rate increases significantly, your rankings will suffer. Google will see how quickly people leave your site and will not consider your content as the best answer.

Remember, doing it right the first time will always help your rankings in the long run.

Focus on optimizing for location

This may already be something you’ve been doing, but voice search is making it all the more important. Many people do voice searches for looking for something in their local area.

Here is an example of what we mean:

local search engine optimization fort collins

So let’s put this into practice

When looking to find your business, Google is going to turn to your Google My Business listing.

Here is what our Google My Business listing looks like:

  • Make sure your Google My Business listing is up and running. If you don’t have one, claim or create your Google My Business listing.
  • Your information (your name, address, phone number, description, etc.) in your listing should be accurate and as thorough as possible.
  • Be purposeful to fill out all your relevant categories. Include images of your location and make sure you have a concise, accurate, and helpful description of your business. For more help, check out the guidelines for representing your business on Google.
  • Make sure other important business listings are up to date and accurate as well. Check out our post on fixing your business listings to make sure you have them covered.
  • As you are focused on the local aspect, include written content on your website that has local intentions (in your blog posts, etc.). For example, we might talk about “web design company in Fort Collins” within our content.

Google is playing favorites: mobile is key!

This really shouldn’t be anything new, but it’s worthwhile to mention that paying attention to mobile is more important than ever.

Google is favoring mobile-friendly sites and it only makes sense that optimizing for mobile will help your rankings. Studies have shown that mobile users now surpass desktop users. And the reality is, often people using voice search are using their phones.

If your site is not optimized for mobile, people will likely return to the search results to find an answer that displays better on their screen. Remember that significant increases in bounce rates can end up hurting your rankings. Don’t give mobile users a reason to bounce back to a different answer.

Where do I start?

Check to see if your site passes Google’s mobile-friendly test.

On the testing website, simply add your URL to the search bar and click “run test” as shown in the example below:

check your local business for mobile-friendliness

Hopefully, you’ll get results like this!

responsive website design fort collins

As you create your content in light of the fact that you want it to work for mobile users, make sure your content is easy to scan. It’s harder to read huge blocks of content on smaller screens.

Improve your website’s mobile friendliness by optimizing load time. One of the easiest ways to do this is to upload properly sized images. If you have a WordPress website, compress your images.

Other Ways to Optimize for Voice Search

There are other more technical ways to optimize your site for voice search, including using microdata/schema markup to help Google better understand the contents of a page. To learn more or get up with this, contact your SEO specialist.

Staying on top of SEO can be overwhelming, especially with the changes that are constantly coming our way. Your options are either to adapt to the new trends, or fall behind in SEO.


If you would like for someone else to tackle the challenge for you, we would be happy to help. SEO is what we do. We would love to help take the weight off your shoulders so that you can focus on your business. Contact us to learn more.

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