Starting with Siri, speaking into your device to conduct online searches originated in 2011. Since then, the convenience and interactivity of voice search has become a growing trend.
How does this apply to websites? Well, why not let your website get into search results when your viewers utter the keywords you’re ranking for? Let’s optimise your website’s SEO for voice search.
A High Awareness Of Voice Search Technology
A survey conducted in 2018 by PwC Consumer Intelligence studied the public’s awareness of voice searches. Only 10% of the surveyed participants were not familiar with voice-search enabled devices and technology. The other 90% responded positively to the survey, with 72% of them having experienced the capabilities of voice search themselves.
Majority of voice searches are driven by teens, households with children, and households with an annual income of more than US$100K.
Adoption Rate of Voice-Enabled Searches
Younger consumers ranging from 18 to 24-year-olds are more likely to adopt voice search technology as compared to older users. However, the survey also found out that they are less likely to rely on just voice search (indicating medium usage).
Respondents between the ages of 25-49 tend to concentrate on using voice searches the most often, after adopting it.
What this tells us is that while younger audiences prefer a span of mediums to generate options for themselves, older audiences prefer to return to the same medium if it gets them the results they want quickly, even if they don’t adopt it as readily as their younger counterparts.
The Devices Used For Voice-Enabled Searches
This is the percentage of respondents correlating with the type of voice search devices they’ve used:
- Smartphone (57%)
- Tablet (29%)
- Laptop (29%)
- Desktop (29%)
- Speakers (27%)
- TV (21%)
- Car Navigation (20%)
- Wearables – smart watch etc. (14%)
What Do People Search For?
Knowing what people are searching for lets us prepare our websites for voice-enabled searches. Voice search can generally be categorised into these 3 areas:
- Finding local businesses, specific shops or services
E.g. “Find me a restaurant nearby” or “Where is the nearest art supply store?”
- Looking for a product or information about it
E.g. “What is the latest laptop?” or “Does this model support 1080P resolution for gaming?”
- Finding information
This is by far the broadest category. They may be searching for a recipe, a person, an event, a course or a video.
Optimising For Search Intents
In 2015, Google introduced a new algorithm into Google Search; RankBrain. RankBrain is an artificial intelligence-based search engine algorithm, which aims to help google process search results and ultimately provide better, more accurate and relevant search results to the user.
In an interview with Google, Google states that RankBrain is the third most important ranking factor, along with links and content. Google however is not yet perfect. It still has 2 major challenges to solve:
- Identifying user intent.
- Interpreting what content on your website serves said user intent.
Google will slowly but surely overcome these 2 challenges gradually. At this juncture that we’re typing this, it’s up to the owner of the website to help Google better understand their webpages using structured data. I’ll explain what this is next.
What is Structured Data?
Structured data, also known as rich snippets, schema mark-ups or metadata, are chunks of code that are embedded into your webpage. Its purpose is to give Google additional data about the page. Google reads this information and uses it to display rich results.
Structured data provides Google with these microdata to let Google better understand your content. So what does this have to do with voice-enabled searches?
When users search for local businesses, most often, they’re looking for data, such as addresses, operational hours, contact information, and the like. These microdata provide search engines with the corresponding information, which search engines can then classify accordingly.
Let’s search for “Chocolate Cookie Recipe”
Notice how the type of structured data is “Recipe”, and microdata like Ingredients, Prep Time and Recipe Instructions are given. This data is then translated into the rich snippet(s) you see. You can easily test your webpage for structured data using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Note: Notice how I said “test your webPAGE for structured data” instead of “test your webSITE for structured data”? That is because structured data works on a page-by-page basis. A recipe page uses a “Recipe-type” structured data while an event page uses an “Event-type” structured data.
While we’re in this topic, let’s dive further down into the types of structured data that can be inserted into your webpages.
The Types Of Structured Data
As you have guessed, there are different types of structured data. Each of them must be set individually for each page, based on the type of information your page exhibits. Let’s look at them individually.
The “Review” rich snippet adds a star rating (out of 5) to your normal snippet. This can be either an individual review or an average collective review.
The “Recipe” rich snippet is useful in showcasing – as you’ve guessed it – recipes. Its microdata includes the type of cuisine, recipe yield, preparation time, cooking time, total time, rating, recipe video, calories, recipe ingredients, and recipe instructions.
The “Music” Rich Snippet gives you the option of providing information like length, genre and release date.
The “Product” Rich Snippet is most effective when you have products on your pages. Running an e-commerce store? This is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It gives the consumer much needed additional information like SKU (stock keeping unit), Brand, Currency, Price, Discounts and Rating.
The “Organisation” Rich Snippet lets Search Engines know more about your business/organisation. Provide them with key information like your address, logo, contact information and Services. This allows anyone with potential interest to contact you easily, which would be your main objective here.
The “Event” Rich Snippet comes into play if your page contains information about an event/ several events, important for participants/audiences to know before attending them.
The “Jobs” Rich Snippet is designed to outline the job postings and their relevant details available on your website.
The “Video” Rich Snippet highlights your videos in your uploads, bringing attention to the thumbnails, titles and your brand name.
The “FAQ” Rich Snippet is an important snippet to use if you have an FAQ page. It helps to increase the search visibility of your webpage greatly based on questions visitors normally search for.
The “How-To” Rich Snippet gives your users instant guides connected to you straight from Google Search itself!
BONUS! Get Google to index your content INSTANTLY
As described, we sometimes have content that may be short-lived. These can be in the form of a job posting, a live stream, a product promotion or an event. You’ll want these content to be indexed and posted by Google Search ASAP! Find out how to do it here.
NOTE: Google recommends that you use the Indexing API only for Job Posting, and short-lived pages like live-stream videos. If you are unsure if you should be using this, please do not proceed.
Check out how we can help you index your web content organically over the long haul.
How To Use/ Set-Up Structured Data On Your Webpage?
As you’ve seen, structured data or rich snippets is great to differentiate your webpage against other webpages in Google’s search results. What’s more, using structured data will enable your website to show up on voice searches, giving you an edge over your competitors!
There are a few ways to set up structured data for your webpages.
This method requires you to have knowledge in HTML coding. A series of codes using the microdata, RDFa or JSON-LD is added to the header section of your webpage. You can find more information here.
Using SEO Plugins (Recommended)
Most of us aren’t developers. We have no clue what HTML or JSON-LD is, or that it even exists. I’m going to show you a simple method to add structured data on your webpages, without knowing HTML.
There are 3 SEO plugins that I recommend.
#1 Yoast SEO
If you’ve done SEO for your website, chances are, you’ve heard of Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO is the most popular and well-known SEO tool out there.
What we like about Yoast SEO: It’s an all- in-one SEO Tool. From meta title, meta descriptions, to readability score and schema mark-ups (structured data), it’s a very powerful tool to have in your SEO arsenal.
What we do not like about Yoast SEO: It’s pricey. At the time we wrote this article, Yoast SEO Premium costs US$89 or S$122 per year. There is a free version of Yoast SEO in the WordPress repository but schema mark-ups are only available in their PRO version.
#2 Schema Pro
Schema Pro is developed by the team at Brainstorm Force. If the company sounds familiar to you, that’s because you’ve probably heard of them through using WordPress. They’re the ones that developed the Astra Theme, our recommended powerful yet lightweight theme that we use in all our web design projects for our clients.
They’ve also developed the vastly popular Ultimate Addons, WP Portfolio and Convert Pro, just to name a few.
What we like about Schema Pro: It’s easy to set and automate your schemas for all your pages and posts. Very friendly user interface as it focuses on only one thing: Schema Mark-ups.
What we do not like about Schema Pro: Unlike the other plugins we recommend, Schema Pro only does Schema Mark-ups. Nothing more. There is no free version of the plugin, although they offer a 14 days no risk money back guarantee. Schema Pro costs US$79/ year or US$249 for their lifetime license.
RankMath is a fairly new SEO plugin, but man, does it deliver. The SEO plugin scene has always been dominated by 2 players: Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO. Rankmath has proved, over the past year, that it’s powerful, reliable, and is here to stay.
What we like about RankMath: It’s an all-in-one SEO tool. They claim to be more powerful than Yoast SEO, despite being free. YES, IT’S FREE. Through our testing, it has definitely lived up to its claims. Our tests include automating schema mark-ups, meta tags, and even a sitewide SEO analysis.
What we do not like about RankMath: What’s there not to like about it? It’s free, and it pretty much does what Yoast SEO Premium does. Download RankMath for free in the WordPress Repository here. If we had to nitpick, it would be that it’s still a pretty new plugin, and bugs may turn up every now and then (then again, it’s the same for Yoast and any other plugins). The bugs do get patched frequently though.
This is it! Our coverage of schema mark-ups and how you can apply them to make your webpages easily found on search engines for voice-enabled searches. In summary, here’s what we’ve covered.
- There is a high adoption and usage rate for voice searches, especially for people aged 24-49, who can be considered heavy users in this aspect.
- Uses of voice search most often search for local businesses, products/services, and information (recipes, reviews, etc.).
- To optimise your webpages’ visibility for voice search, search engines require bits of information that tell them more about your page. These information are called microdata and search engines use them to create Rich Snippets.
- There are 16 types of Rich Snippets available (possibly more in future). They are Article, Book, Course, Event, Job Posting, Music, Person, Organisation, Product, Recipe, Restaurant, Review, Service, Software Application, FAQ, and How-To. These rich snippet types must be set manually to correspond to the data on your webpage.
- There are 2 methods we went through for setting up schema mark-ups on your website. HTML (Advanced) and Plugins (our recommendation). There are 3 plugins for you to try out to input schema mark-ups on your They are Yoast SEO, Schema Pro and RankMath.
Do not miss Part 2 of the article where we give you an insider view of 3 other vital SEO strategies to optimise for website for voice-enabled searches!