How to adapt your SEO to voice search

'Hey Alexa, will voice search change the future of SEO?’. It sure as hell will!'

A few years ago, a mystical thing named voice search entered our world. Its future was still unsure, the abilities limited. Today, it fills us with delight to see that what once was a mystical thing, still exists and has broadened its abilities and popularity. Siri and Alexa aren’t strangers anymore and even Google joined in with Google Now. This of course changes the way we browse. It’s doubtful one would tell Google Now to look for: ‘hotels Italy cheap’. Instead, we will tell it: ‘Look for cheap hotels in Italy’. Do you see that? We use natural speeches when seeking information with voice search. That is one of the reasons why voice search will change our SEO strategies. Keep on reading if you want to keep up with these changes!

So here are some small changes you can embrace to make sure your SEO is voice search proof:

Adapt your keyword strategy

As said before, people tend to use more natural speak when using voice search. But our keywords are not adapted to this. Which means that, if we do not change them, we will not reach voice search visitors. That would be a waste, so here is a tip:

A way to do this is by paying attention to what customers ask you and then use that as an inspiration for long-tail keywords. Or you can think about what kind of questions customers might ask when looking for something you offer. A great tool to look for long-tail keywords is Answer the Public.

A smart move here is to create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. On that page, you can formulate all the common questions customers might ask. The trick here is to sound as natural as possible.

  • Speak the customer’s language & match content to search intent
  • Challenge your content on possible questions phrases that answer the how, the why, the when, the where…

We all want to come over as super intelligent and highly educated. We want Google to love our website so much that it places us on top its ranking. For voice search, we do not have to come over super intelligent and highly educated. Because our customers do not know our jargon (which obviously means they will not use it in their voice search). It is important to know that, when you optimize your SEO for voice search, you have to optimize it for customers (a.k.a. humans) not search engines (a.k.a. robots). This means you have to speak their language.

Claim your Google 'My Business' listing

And do it now! Because Google ‘My Business’ is not optional anymore. Not having it in a time of voice search is like going to Italy without eating Italian; you are missing out! Why so? Because people often look for practical information when using voice search. Google ‘My Business’, allows you to add this practical information such as the industry, address, phone number, opening times...

Mobile first, more than ever

It will not come as a surprise when I tell you that people use their mobile device for practically everything. Voice search is no exception to this rule; people joyfully talk to their mobile device as if it is their best friend. Even more, the largest amount of voice searches is done through a mobile phone. This means your site should perfectly work on every device. If your site looks terrible on a mobile device or if it takes hours to load, people will get frustrated and leave. And if people keep leaving your site, your bounce rate will raise and if that bounce rate is too high for too long, Google will notice. Result? This will affect your rankings.

But don’t worry, you can check if your site is mobile-friendly by taking the mobile-friendly test from Google. This test will show you if you will rank in mobile search. A few things that might help make your site mobile-friendly are to compress your images (to limit loading time) and avoid Flash (it does not work on mobile devices).

Reach 'position zero' via featured snippets 

Featured snippets are the small boxes, as well better known as rich answers, you sometimes see when looking up a question in Google. What you see in the box is an answer to a question with at the bottom of the box, the source of the information. Good news! If your site is on the first page of the search results, you might end up in that box. 

Featured Snippets

But what does this have to do with Voice search? A lot!

The thing with these featured snippets is that when you look for something with voice search, the featured snippet will be the only thing that shows up. Even better, it is read aloud and the source is shown.  So yes, it is smart to optimize your site for featured snippets. Even though a big part of the process that goes behind picking an answer that will become a featured snippet is still a big secret, however you can already take some measures by adapting your site to the latest SEO standards both on technical SEO and on content adaptation. Short answers to quick questions that is what featured snippets are all about. Knowing this, you can jump-in on that idea and create content that enables short answers that match search intent. You can answer the question shortly, or you can make sure that the answer is in the first 40 to 50 words of your text. You can make your content easy to read and understand by Google by framing the questions in header tags.


Voice searches tend to be local-based. This has to do with the fact that we do most of the voice searches via our mobile phone. Our smartphone knows where we are and knows a lot about our location. For example, it knows the weather, the traffic, which restaurants are near… Most of the questions we ask via voice search start with: where, what, how, when and why. Questions like: ‘where is the best restaurant in Ghent?’. Therefore, you can make your content revolve around those words, to make sure you end up in the Voice search results. Another thing you can do to adjust your local SEO to voice search, is making sure you are highly ranked on third-party review sites. Because voice assistants often scan those sites to base their information.

Voice search has a big influence on our SEO. If you do not adapt, you will be left behind, and nobody wants to be left behind, that is for sure. Need some help adapting your website to match the latest technical SEO standards making use of content addressing the user’s search intent? Or do you just want to start or improve your SEO? No problem, The Reference is here for you! Give us a call and we will make sure you will not be left behind!


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