Voice Search: Foundations & Prerequisites (Second in a Series)
October 24, 2017 by Rob Andrews
In the first installment in this series on Voice Search, we covered some basic information about what VS search is and the mindset necessary to effectively leverage this evolving technology.
For those interested in the possibilities of Voice Search from an SEO perspective, the immediate need might be to jump right in to think about VS queries that you could be targeting. But before you jump in to the deep end of the pool, you need to lay the proper foundation.
For Voice Search to Work For You, Your Site Must Leverage it Effectively
The first need is NOT to focus on queries as such, but to make sure that your site, overall, is the type of site that can leverage voice search effectively.
Mobile-Friendly: It is absolutely necessary — critical, even — that your site is 100% mobile-friendly. Why? Because many voice search queries are done on mobile devices of some sort as well as through car dashboard panels. Google’s Mobile Friendly Page Tester works well for this.
Local: Since voice search is heavily oriented towards location-based (“Find … near me”) searches, your site must be optimized for local search and already ranking well when local searches are performed. What specifically needs to be in place here?
GMB (Google My Business) and other business listings must contain current information and that information must be consistent with information posted elsewhere on the web.
Flash – Don’t use Flash, because it has become a security risk and will be totally phased out by 2020. Keep Flash code off of your site at all times!
Loading – Page load times should be 2 seconds or less. I like GTmetrix for this.
Sitemap – A crawl-able site map should be provided and submitted to the search engines. It should be correctly set up and up-to-date, also.
Site Content – Content on your site should rely on natural language and certainly not be keyword-stuffed. Thin and duplicate content – as well as useless fluff – is, of course, totally out of the question.
Structure – Your site should be super-easy to navigate on mobile devices. This is more than mobile-friendly (which usually focuses on overall design appearance) – you need human testing, feedback from humans using your site, to spot navigational issues.
Reputation: Finally, your site should feature lots of positive reviews, and an absence (or minimum) of negative comments about your business and services. Do you monitor your site’s reputation online? Who is talking about it? And is what they are saying positive or negative?
Physical Location (of The Searcher) In Voice Search
A main consideration with voice search is that when a “near me” type search is performed (even if those words are not explicitly used), the search technology will try to deliver results based on the present location of the searcher.
Have you ever done any real-time testing of voice searches? If so, have you noticed that if you do a voice search from your PC at home, that the results can vary when you are in the same general location but doing it from a cell phone? Why is that?
When you search from your computer, the IP address of your machine will be used. This may not match your actual physical address exactly, but it may reflect a slightly broader area.
However, when you search from your smartphone, more precise location information is sent out, which can be reflected in a more focused and precise location reference.
This is why the same “near me” type searches from the same physical location may give different results, depending on the type of device used to execute the search.
Business Reputation and Voice Search
All other things being equal, search technology would want to display results showing businesses with the best reputations — it’s what searchers want to see when they are on-the-go and need actionable information. It makes total sense, from the perspective of giving a good user experience, to present to the searchers a business with positive reviews and comments (when such information is available and known to the search engines).
This means, that to rank highly for voice search, you must control comments made about your site or business on social media channels and review sites.
This also necessitates that, if you find negative listings in the SERP’s out there, that you need to take action — this is the reason why, at the start of 2017, Posirank began to offer a Reputation Management strategizing service, where we help our clients figure out just what needs to be done to help their site (or client site) recover from negative SERP listings. (Posirank clients can find it in their dashboard under Services > Reputation Management.)
We can summarize everything this way: If you are going to rank well for voice search, you need to put in the work to make sure that your website — and overall business — is prepared to leverage the possibilities this new technology provides. Once that has been achieved, you can move on to the next stage (which we’ll cover in our next article in this series)- how to brainstorm and research voice search queries. Stay tuned for our next installment!