Help search engines, help you: optimizing for voice queries

How would you feel about improving your website’s position from a #1 to a #0 ranking?

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me direct it to the topic of featured snippets, which actually produce the same effect when applied properly. These are the numbered results that are displayed above the natural search result listings when you conduct a query.
Help search engines, help your site’s ranking: structured data basics

Industry experts have noticed the massive uptick in the number of posts featuring snippets: rising from a quarter million to nearly 400,000 between December 2014 and January 2016 according to a study of nearly 1.5 million queries.

What’s driving these increases, you ask? Voice-driven queries. Think about your own day. How many times on average do you utilize Siri, Alexa or Google Home? Probably quite often, given that ComScore has predicted that half of all virtual queries are expected to be conducted via voice search by 2020.

But featured snippets aren’t the only ingredient in the recipe for voice optimization. Technically, we also need to talk about structured data. Both topics tend to be discussed side-by-side in any mention of voice-friendly SEO, as improving your site for one generally entails doing so for the other.

The most important points to know about structured data and voice optimization SEO strategies are:

  • Make it easier for search engines to get information about your site
  • Take steps to give users more information about the type of content on your site
  • Do not think of it as “optimizing for search engines,” but as a way to get search engines to help your site rank higher
  • Longer questions and conversational keywords are your friend, which may seem counterintuitive if you are only used to optimizing for mobile queries
  • Differentiate between what, who, when, where and why in your language phrases, as they indicate different placement within the research process
  • Think local – most searching with voice-driven queries are looking for local products, services or businesses
  • Revisit (or claim!) Google business listings when relevant to ensure they are up-to-par with the competition if you snag a featured snippet ranking

In short, voice-driven queries are not a fad. They are here to stay!

Much like the shift towards mobile, the years ahead will make it necessary for those seeking to rank well in search listings to maximize users’ voice-based experiences. One way to make yourself stand out from the crowd? Seek out blogs, information and how-to’s regarding structured data for JSON-LD while avoiding micro-data and RDFa instructions.

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