The Rise of Voice Search: Optimizing Your Business for the Audio Revolution

voice search optimization

This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Alexa, what’s the weather like today? Every day more and more people are asking questions and searching for answers on phones and smart speakers using services like Siri, Alexa, and Google Voice.

It’s easy to understand the growing popularity of voice search.  Asking a question out loud and getting an answer can feel like a break from typing and searching for things and spending all day on a computer for work. Voice search can almost feel like having your own personal assistant. 

With voice search becoming more popular, how do you use Search Engine Optimization to get more rankings in voice search for your business? In this article, we’ll look at some specific tactics for getting your business ranking for voice search.

Think About The Context Of Voice Searchers

Before you commit to optimizing for voice search, take some time to examine the context of the searches your business already receives. Certain kinds of searches are more likely to be voice searches than others, and there are a few reasons for the differences. 

Think about whether the search is something you’d say out loud in front of a group of people at a restaurant. Some searches might be more private than others, which makes people less likely to voice their searches. For example, if you’re searching for healthcare services, like comparing reviews on traditional in-person therapy versus BetterHelp online therapy, you may be more inclined to type the search. 

People are also more likely to search by voice when driving around looking for something locally. So if your business isn’t local, you might not have as many people using voice searches to find you. According to ComScore, about 50% of smartphone users used voice search technology in 2020.

Another way to better understand voice search is to ask how often people would search for the answer to a particular question. Voice search is often used for getting info about the weather, which is a daily search. When it’s something you search for the same way every day, it’s more likely you’ll use voice search to help avoid monotony and save time. 

Expand Keywords Into Phrases For Voice Search

One of the key concepts that you can use to help you rank in more voice searches is to think of keywords in longer phrases. Here’s why, when you search for something by typing into Google you’re more likely to use two or three words to get a result because typing isn’t something most people enjoy doing more than they have to. 

Yet, people who are searching using their voices are more likely to speak in longer sentences, almost like they’re asking a friend a question. So, the same search for “San Francisco bakery” (typed), might be more like “Alexa, where is there a good bakery near me in San Francisco?” (voice search).

Add FAQ Sections To Your Website

Adding FAQs to your web pages is an ideal way to capture the longer voice search queries, which are more likely to resemble sentences. Some businesses answer basic questions like store hours on their dedicated FAQs page, but it’s even better to pepper relevant questions throughout your website across many pages.

If you’re a florist, you may want to answer a question like “What are the best kinds of flowers for Mother’s Day?” Mark up your FAQ sections with structured data to better help search engines to understand your page and get ranked. 

Capitalize On Local Search Patterns

One of the unique aspects of voice search is how often it’s used for local searches. There is a large percentage of searches that include “near me”. Popular local searches include looking for restaurants, areas of interest and sights, and hotels. People also look for information about times, such as when movies are showing or when a certain store is open.

Know Your Customers

While technology can be a sticking point for older consumers, there are significant numbers of older Americans using voice search technology across a wide range of age groups. 

According to one study on voice search, a wide age group of Americans use voice search. Some 58% of 25-34 year-olds reported using voice search technology on a daily basis. That number drops as people age, with more than 43% of people aged 55 or older using voice search on a weekly basis.

So, even if you’ve previously determined your audience is “too old” or “not interested” in getting information from an online search, it may be time to reevaluate such assumptions. As time goes on, more and more older Americans are using search to find what they want. 

Optimize For Featured Snippets

Although you may not be familiar with the term “featured snippet”, almost anyone who’s typed in a search on Google will recognize the short paragraph answers at the top of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). 

To familiarize yourself with featured snippets, Google a question like “Why are cheetahs endangered?” At the top of the organic search results (but below the Google Ads) at the very top of the page, you’ll see a paragraph excerpt that best summarizes the answer. Some answers will additionally have highlights over the most pertinent points to answer your question.  

These featured snippets are what Google often uses to answer a voice query, especially for requests that have a precise answer. For example, if you were to ask Alexa to tell you the capital of California, you get a precise response: Sacramento is the capital city of California.

We suggest these tips for featured snippet optimization:

  • Give your website page paragraphs descriptive headers
  • Keep your paragraphs shorter, around 50-60 words. Shorter paragraphs are better for mobile usability too.
  • Google loves lists, consider creating a list of at least 8 items to capture the featured snippet. Longer lists that have a “read more” prompt get more click-throughs from the SERPs. 
  • Make sure your website is using HTTPS and has a good mobile usability score. 

Write in a way that’s easy to understand for someone with a  6th or 7th-grade education, and check your work using the Flesch-Kincaid reading level test.

Voice Search Optimization Is Still SEO

So let’s talk about SEO rankings. If your website doesn’t already rank well in Google searches, it’s reasonable to assume you won’t magically start ranking well in voice searches. There’s always an exception, but just because you don’t rank well now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do things to rank better. We all have to start somewhere. 

Just don’t expect your website to begin performing well in voice search if your website previously hasn’t gotten great results. Success in voice search is often more about adjusting your current SEO strategy, rather than following a completely new strategy. 

Keep in mind that Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa all have their own algorithms for calculating results. What works on one speaker may work differently on another speaker. Track your results across the different voice search platforms for the best results. 


Remember that voice search is an extension of your existing SEO, not something completely different. Examine your current top keywords, and think about the context of how someone using voice search would find your business. Do a deep dive into the questions people ask about your business or others in your industry. Add more questions related to your business or niche, and use longer phrases that are more like the sentences people speak when using voice search. The ways you become more optimized today will lead to better results tomorrow.  

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