5 Writing Tips to Optimize for Voice Search

The secret to writing for voice search is to understand the “Why.” Why do a majority of people prefer searching by voice over typing queries? It’s really not a complicated answer. Searching by voice is faster, easier, and more importantly, it allows someone to multi-task. And here lies the reason for our 5 writing tips…

Tip #1: Keep it Simple

Now is not the time to show off your smarts, to pull out your thesaurus, or fill your answer with nuance. Google and audiences prefer shorter content for voice search (under 30 words). It is faster to talk than to type, but when people are listening to a response they’re unable to fast forward or to skim. Recognize that your listener is a busy person and they just want the answer as soon as possible. SemRush conducted a study that found that to be successful for voice search, text complexity needs to rank 8 on the Flesch KinKaid Grade. The goal here is to make answers that are easily spoken and therefore, easily understood.

Tip #2: Answer the Questions Inquiring Minds Want to Know

According to Google, “Almost 70 percent of requests to the Assistant are expressed in natural language, not the typical keywords people type in a web search.” The vast majority of search queries start with why, what, when, who, where and how. What, why and who questions are used generally when people are in the research phase. Where questions denote that they’re likely ready to buy (and good for local businesses to concentrate on), while how questions generally are when a person is in the “do” stage. When can denote the research stage or a buying stage (if looking for hours). To research what questions you should answer, you can use Google’s own search tool and check out the People Also Ask boxes (as pictured below). There are also online tools available such as Answer the Public, Text Optimizer, BuzzSumo Question Analyzer and StoryBase.

There are two inconspicuous places on your website where you can have these voice search optimized questions and answers without sticking out like a sore thumb. First, the very obvious FAQ page. But, some questions might also lend themselves to blog posts. Google does like lists, and lists often end up as featured snippets.

When you ask Google, “How do I optimize my website for voice search?” what comes back is a succinct reply from Google based on a blog from SEM Rush, which Google has pulled the heading and sub-headings from mid-way down the blog post as it is a perfect match for what I was looking for (Strategies to Optimize Your Content for Voice Search). If you were also to type the same query or keywords from the query into the search bar, the same blog post comes up as the featured snippet (our second blog post on the importance of ranking for position 0 will delve more into this point). This does seem to be the case quite alot, if you are already the featured snippet for a similar query, then you’ll be more likely chosen for the answer to the voice query).

Tip #3: Make it Conversational

It is voice search. People are speaking into their phones and your answer should speak back to them. Slang, contractions and colloquialisms within your answer will all help you achieve a more conversational response. Of course, don’t overdo it and make your answer non-sensical. Be careful to use slang or colloquialisms that are fairly well known throughout all speakers of a certain language and not something particular to a neighbourhood or city (unless your business is local). There are boundless examples of language differences between British and American English, some famous enough that they can be used either place (truck/lorry, toilet/loo, sweater/jumper, crisps/chips etc), but better to use words that you’re sure are familiar with the audience you’re targeting.

Tip #4: Use Trigger Words

Ahrefs conducted a study in which they analyzed 2 million featured snippets and found the top 30 most frequently met words in search queries. If you can, we suggest you use them.

Tip #5: Go For the Niche and Research Long-Tail Keywords and Queries

Keyword research is just as important in voice search as it is in online search. The Google Hummingbird Update in 2013 changed search so that Google would be able to take into account the users intent rather than just doing a keyword match. Voice search tends to be longer than text queries. For example, a person might type “new computers in 2020”, whereas for voice search the query might be, “What are the newest computers in 2020?” Voice searches are generally about 75% longer than text based searches. By using natural language processing, searchers are able to ask more niche questions and get more relevant answers. This, of course, doesn’t make keyword research any less important, in fact, you’ll have better chance of being the answer to a voice query if you answer niche queries, and so advice pertaining to focusing on long-tail keywords and queries still applies.

Voice search isn’t rocket science, but it’s also not easy. We’re here to help. Contact us today.