How to Optimize Your WordPress Site for Voice Search

Hey Siri, what’s the future of Internet search?

Here’s what we found:

Voice search has rapidly become one of the top tools people use to search for content on the Internet. One in five smartphone and smart speaker owners use their device’s personal voice assistant to conduct Internet searches on a daily basis

This is significant because around 60 million American adults now own a smart speaker. The introduction of voice-activated technology has sparked a preference for searching the Internet by voice instead of typing out queries.

Smart speaker users aren’t the only ones who prefer voice search. Many smartphone users also love the convenience of searching with their voice instead of typing on a smaller device. Searching with voice is safer while driving, exercising, or operating machinery.

Back in May 2021, TrueList estimated that 122.7 million Americans will have used voice search by year’s end and that voice-based shopping will rise to $40 billion dollars by 2022.

So, what does this mean for you and your website?

With voice search usage on the rise, optimizing your site to account for voice searches is crucial. Whether you use your website to answer questions, build a community, or sell your products online, you’re missing out on potential traffic if your website doesn’t appear in the voice search results pages. Let’s change that.

In this guide, we’ll share tips for improving your site to show up in voice search results.

Voice search is a speech recognition technology that allows users to search the Internet by speaking instead of typing. 

There are multiple methods that people use to voice search. Some users either click on a voice command icon from their device’s screen or push a button on their smart speaker. This allows them to dictate a query. Others activate voice search by calling out the name of their virtual assistant, such, “Hey, Siri”, “Alexa” or “OK, Google.” 

The way a user receives the answer to their query also varies based on the device used. Those who use a smart speaker will receive the response spoken back to them. Those who use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop (i.e., a device that has a screen) may receive both an audible and text-based response that allows them to read the results while also hearing the results simultaneously. 

Do you optimize for user intent? 

Voice search may appear simple, but it’s actually a complicated and ever-evolving process. A user dictates a search and then waits, on average, 4.6 seconds for the results to materialize. During those 4.6 seconds, the search engine of choice goes to work converting the voice to text, analyzing user intent, and then returning results. The “analyzing user intent” step is the most complicated part of the process. 

“User intent” is the goal that a person has when searching for a query on the Internet. Every time someone searches online, whether it’s via voice or text, they have an end goal in mind. The search engine must understand that goal (i.e., the user’s intent) and then display content that aligns with that goal. 

User intent can be broken into four categories:

1. Transactional – These queries are known as “do” or actions that the user wants to take, such as “order flowers” or “buy a phone charger.”

2. Navigational – These queries are known as “go” and are used to navigate to a specific website or piece of content, such as “Play ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ by U2 on YouTube” or “WordPress.com Blog.”

3. Informational – These queries are known as “know.” They require quick answers to quick questions such as, “What’s the weather in Tucson on Tuesday?” or “How many people lived in 1891?” These are the types of questions that you may ask a smart device when hanging out with friends.

4. Commercial – These queries come from users ready to buy a product or service. Sometimes, these users may want more information before purchasing, so they’ll ask, “What’s the best seafood restaurant in Charlotte?” or “Gym classes in Toronto.”

Understanding user intent is essential for attracting search engine visitors to your website, whether by text or voice search. However, when comparing text to voice, voice searchers tend to be more informal and anticipate casual, conversational results. 

With that in mind, let’s discuss how to optimize your WordPress website so that you can generate traffic from voice searches. 

The majority of voice searches are in question form. The best way to get found through voice search is by directly answering questions like, “what is…?” or “how can I…?” For example, when drafting your page or post, you can add an h2 or h3 header where you ask the user’s question (being sure to include any long-tail keywords that they’d likely use). Then, you can answer the question in the immediate section that follows.

This increases your chances of appearing in the featured snippet section of a Google search results page.

A featured snippet is a short excerpt of text that appears at the top of a Google search results page. When responding to a user’s query, Google grabs the top answer from a relevant page. This is why it’s a good idea to create content that mimics how the user actually speaks. If you can make an exact (or almost exact) match for the user’s voice search query, you may appear in the featured snippet for that search.

Focus on Long-Tail Keywords

Voice search queries tend to be conversational, which lends itself perfectly to long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords, as opposed to short-tail or single-word searches, tended to be longer and more specific. Think about the difference between “jeans” (short-tail) and “blue skinny jeans with ripped knees” (long-tail). 

Use Schema Markup

Google is focused on giving users results that match their search intent. This is true for both text and voice search. Google has its own way of deciphering user intent, and it’s getting more accurate with each passing update. 

However, that’s only part of the story. 

Google also needs to understand your site.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What type of content do you offer?
  • Will a user get the answers they’re looking for from your page? 

To help Google learn more about your site, you’ll take advantage of schema, which is also known as structured data. This is a particular type of language that search engines use to understand what kind of content exists on your website. For example, you can identify an article as a recipe, a job posting, an FAQ, and more by using schema markup. To add schema markup to your WordPress.com site, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO or choose a theme that specifically has schema markup built-in.

Learn more about how to add schema to your WordPress.com site in this post.

Focus on Local SEO

According to research, 46% of voice search users seek a local business each day. If you have a local business, you definitely need to optimize your Google Business Profile listing. Google Business Profile is a free tool that allows you to list your business in local search results and on Google Maps. The information that shows up in your profile includes:

  • You business name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Questions and answers
  • Reviews

By claiming and completely filling out your Google Business Profile listing, you’ll increase your chances of getting found through voice search. Voice searchers may ask about your business hours, for example, and if you have already filled out your Google Business Profile, Google will be able to provide that information easily. 

Use Conversational Language in Your Content

When writing content for your website or blog, write in a way that mimics everyday speech. The goal is to write in a conversational way that directly answers a user’s question. For example, one could look at this post as a very long answer to the simple query, “How do I optimize my website for voice search?” This post is intentionally long and conversational because it’s easier for users to connect with this type of content. It’s friendly and human.

This is a top consideration when optimizing your website for voice search. 

Ensure That Your Site Loads Quickly

Load speed matters! Obviously, a voice searcher wants the answer to their query immediately, so Google prioritizes sites that load quickly. To ensure that your website loads quickly, focus on:

  • Your hosting service. Your choice of web host and the type of hosting will impact your site’s loading speed. This is why we recommend managed WordPress hosting
  • Your theme. The code that’s used to build and bring your website to life can either result in a pleasant experience or a slow-loading experience. The best option is to choose a lightweight theme that loads quickly. 

In this post, we cover 7 ways to speed up your website. While these tips help with SEO, they also help with optimizing for voice search too. 

Final Thoughts

Voice search is now one of the top methods used to search the web. 

It doesn’t matter what type of website you have. If you want to be found by the increasing number of voice searchers, you must optimize your website accordingly. Use the above practices to ensure that your website gets found through a voice search.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The WordPress.com Team

At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time. Create a free website or build a blog with ease on WordPress.com. Dozens of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes.

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