Voice search is the future of web browsing. Without users typing, half of all web sessions are hands-free interactions through assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant.

Increasingly, search engines themselves promote voice search for its ease and enhanced user experience. By 2020, a third of all web sessions do not require a screen.

What Voice Search Means For Gaining Traffic?
Brands and sites need to start optimizing for this “Great Voice Shift” because voice search optimization and traditional site search engine optimization are vastly different. Voice search is almost effortless with a relentless need for specific, immediate response.

Though voice searches do not result (strictly speaking) into visits to your website, they do:

increase brand awareness by offering citations,
result in more relevant traffic for users to learn more, and
impact sales and engagement with content.
By not optimizing for voice search, you may be missing relevant traffic from the over one billion voice searches launched every month since January 2018. And, your efforts to optimize for typed queries will not necessarily transfer over to more natural, spoken queries.

To help, I offer six search engine optimization tips for preparing your site to translate well into the mobile, hands-free search experiences of the future.

6 Tips to Optimize for Voice Search
Remember that voice search is about easy-breezy browsing. It should be fast, natural, focused, local, and just-right for the user. So, voice search optimization forces us to tighten up our strategy.

1. Speed up load times.
Voice search results favor quick-loading, mobile sites that don’t keep the user waiting. Make sure to optimize images, compress files, use caching, and reduce server response time.

2. Express yourself naturally.
Voice searches do not take the same, choppy form as quickly typed queries. Instead of searching for [top marketing colleges], users are likely to express themselves more casually: [what are the top marketing colleges in California?].

Include contextual, long-tail keywords in your voice optimization strategy. And, express things in the easiest way possible, so that all users understand after the assistant’s first response.

3. Clearly feature your content.
A voice search result is usually under 30 words. To make sure Google will read your answer to users, add in helpful, featured snippets directly into your content.

To do this, include a quick summary of your main content that:

stays under 30 words,
sits near the top of the page,
answers in sufficient detail, and
uses H-tags and bullets
4. Make your site local.
One in four voice searches seek local information. So, invest in local content and use phrases like “near me” and “in my area.”

5. Optimize for intents (not just keywords).
Voice searches often seek specific, highly relevant information, but they can also result in purchases and downloads.

Spend time thinking about what a user is after when they say [best SEO professionals near me]. Do they want a list, a phone number, or a description of a featured entity? Then, tailor your content to fit these intents perfectly.

6. Use “structured data.”
Search engines will better understand your content with descriptive code added to its HTML markup. Help search engines crawl and process your content with your markup.

This is proven to:

be friendly to featured snippets,
increase click-through rates, and
drive relevant traffic.
How to Leverage Your Optimized Content?
Now that you have optimized for voice search, the next step toward relevant, engaged traffic is to consider the experience your users will have once they land. This is how to drive traffic to your website that results in activity, engagement, and sales.

The user has spoken a query. Google generated a block specifically for them. The user listens and decides whether their needs are satisfied. Then, the user either leaves in search of better answers or stays and buys, connects, or learns more.

Every optimization you perform should serve this final moment in the user’s experience. Optimization basics tells us that pages slow, complicated, dense, or unnatural will be abandoned in the shuffle for quick answers that are on target. So, shift your mindset from “solving the puzzle” of voice search to “satisfying the needs” of voiced queries.

To help with this, I offer two sweeping, UX suggestions for your optimized content that will drive relevant traffic to your site by delighting potential customers.

2 Insights for Supercharging a Well-Optimized Site
Voice search is about getting it right the first time. It may be fast, natural, focused, local, and just-right for the user, but does it delight them? Voice and Google search optimization encourages you to push the value envelope.

1. Engage users.
On the hunt for the right answer or product, users want speed, stimulating design, and clear information. If you are losing users to high bounce rates, use a heat map to see why users are following a certain path to ultimately jump ship. If they are sticking around, find out why through behavior flows.

Make sure your design and layout create a pleasing, appropriate atmosphere for the consumption of your content that feels just right for your target audience. Try:

making calls-to-action clear (and unintrusive),
designing to control your user’s focus, and
pushing load times to the absolute minimum.
Focusing on your user’s journey during their browsing will prepare you to increase overall traffic. It will help you establish a pleasant online face, and give you a better chance at earning loyal, return visits.

2. Make room for context
Focused and optimized content is only half of the equation. Without an understanding of the search intent context, content will flounder, and users will abandon your pages.

Make a connection with the problems, beliefs, and passions that the search intent suggests. Don’t just stick to the facts, but engage your customer’s emotional side through copy that puts them in the driver’s seat. Let them know that you are there to support them on their journey to solve their problem (and buy your product).

Anyone can answer a factual question in 30 words or less. But, you will gain competitive advantage if you are able to appreciate your user through understanding of their larger goals and needs. This will increase the quality and relevance of your content, making all your SEO efforts pay off.

Final Thoughts
The world of optimization is ablaze as voice-enabled assistants deploy their game-changing artificial intelligence. And, the clock is ticking as we approach the “Great Voice Shift” of 2020.

If you leave this post with a single idea about how to increase relevant traffic to your site this year, let it be:

In 2019, voice search and user experience optimization will drive leads to your website.

As artificial intelligence and assistants change the way we search online, businesses need to get smart to new optimization standards and best-practices in user experience.

To secure more relevant traffic in this changing landscape, brands are asking themselves:

Am I giving users what they need and want?
Do I have a voice search strategy?
Do I need search engine optimization services?
Can I improve my ranking through user experience?, and
Do I have powerful, long-form content users love?
If you are asking yourself these same questions. Ask one more. Are you ready to take your SEO strategy to the next level in 2020? To stay ahead of the competition and prepare for 2021, let’s conduct an SEO audit for your site. In 2021, we can raise a toast to all the traffic the New Year rings in.

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