The time of voice search is upon us. Over 5 billion of us now carry mobile phones, most of which have the capacity to take voice commands. Millions of homes around the world have digital assistants like Google Home, Alexa, Cortana and Siri listening obediently for their next instruction. There are already over 1 billion voice searches per month which make up 20% of all searches globally and in 2020 that percentage is expected to rise to 50%.
Given these facts and predictions, it’s not really a matter of if or when one should prepare their eCommerce site for voice search, but how.
To help out with this, we’ve put together a list of 5 ways to prepare your eCommerce site for voice search.
1. Maximise your site speed
A very important factor when it comes to voice search is speed. Google (as well as all the other platforms mentioned) want answers to queries just as fast as their users do and anyone who’s used voice search will be well aware how quickly responses come.
The obvious connotation to this is that if your site is slow then it’ll have no chance of being selected in a voice search result.
Whilst you can increase site speed by investing in faster servers, tis shouldn’t be your only answer. Another is to optimise your site for speed as well.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to optimise the images on your site by compressing them into as small a file size as possible without compromising too much on quality. You can use Photoshop for this but if you don’t have that then there are plenty of freely available options like Optimizilla, CompressNow and Online Image Optimizer.
There are a range of other things you can work on to optimise for speed, most of which can be identified by Google’s very handy PageSpeed Insights tool. Some of the recommendations get a little technical but you can highlight and monitor these with your developers and address as many of them as possible.
2. Long tail keyword research
Another important thing to do is to carry long tail keyword research when it comes to voice search. This is because the nature of voice search lends itself to longer search queries because of the tendency of users to use natural language through voice search compared to traditional search when typing/swiping.
You can do this using Google Keyword Planner (which is now a bit dated) or tools like SEMrush which are really effective at digging and finding long tail keywords that have decent volume with metrics like Keyword Difficulty to analyse how attainable they are.
Another voice search trait to recognise is the type of queries that come through which are, by in large, queries with trigger words like “how”, “what” and “when”.
A simple way to address many of these is by creating FAQ section(s) on your site that are relevant to your business. Providing clear and concise answers to these questions will make them easier for Google to recognise and make your site more likely to be identified as a good reference point for Google too.
3. Featured snippets
Featured snippets are often specifically quoted in voice search so targeting these are very much in your interests, along with the fact that they also bring in tremendous organic traffic.
Using SEMrush again, you can conduct your keyword research and filter for “SERP Features” and identify for what keywords featured snippets exist.
You can then analyse the competitor who holds the featured snippet position and think of ways to better their content in order to usurp them from their featured snippet position.
Hopefully, you may already have some pre-existing content, ideally already ranking in the top 10 that you only need to tinker with in order to outdo your competitors. If not it means starting from scratch and producing original, dynamic and fresh content.
4. Local SEO
It’s important to make sure your site is competitive in Local SEO too with respect to voice search. This is because voice search is so frequently used when people are on the move, either whilst driving or on the go in busy city streets when they need to be hands-free.
What they invariably ask are for things that are “… near me” which means being strong in Local SEO is imperative.
The first fundamental to competing at the local level is taking ownership of your Google My Business account and completing your business profile to its fullest extent with Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) details as well as your trading hours, web address and photos.
It’s also important to engage and be active with your Google My Business account, answering questions that are asked and responding to reviews.
Consistent business details across such directories will not only strengthen your local SEO but give you other platforms in which to be discovered as well.
5. Schema markup
The use of schema markup or structured data, as it is also referred, is an important thing to address for your eCommerce site.
For those who aren’t familiar with schema markup, they are essentially tags in your HTML that give search engines context to understand what your content is about.
Quite helpfully, they contribute to rich snippets which add star ratings/reviews etc to results in search engines which are great things to be able to include for eCommerce sites (providing they are positive!) and will help you when people voice search for the “best … near me” or the “best… to buy” etc.
You can also use schema markup to highlight other details important to your business like your physical address, phone numbers, opening hours etc which are commonplace in voice search queries.
Schema.org have some great online resources on how to get started with it which is well worth investing your time in.
So there it is! 5 ways to prepare your eCommerce site for voice search which are all reasonably accessible and will give you a great chance to feature in what is already becoming an increasingly competitive landscape.