“Ok Google”: How does Voice Search SEO change?

Talking is the new typing: When searching with voice commands, the search queries are no longer based on the text input, but on the search with the voice. Voice Search is particularly useful when the user does not have a hand free to tap, or when he taps on certain mobile devices. In addition, faster results can be achieved.

For example, users search for the following results via voice search:

  • Offers or Deals
  • Tips that make life easier
  • Information about events and events
  • Addresses and opening hours

In order to land at the top of a search by voice command, it is therefore crucial to be able to accurately anticipate relevant questions from the users and to provide appropriate answers. But what exactly can one do in SEO to optimally prepare for voice search? You have to bring your data into other systems first. For example, optimizing for featured snippets, awarding structured data, or rigorously maintaining the Google My Business Accounts leads to long-term success in voice search.


Important: If you are looking for a voice search and also expect a spoken answer, you no longer have the choice of countless search results. The user gets exactly ONE answer that ideally addresses his question, but at the same time makes him curious about more.

You want to know more about voice marketing? Day three of the Munich Marketing Week is all about Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Co.

Voice Search and Featured Snippets

Google is increasingly adapting its search results to the search by voice command and answers queries partly with spoken sentences. These come from the so-called Featured Snippets, which are displayed in the standard search on the actual search results and users already directly in the SERPs provide an answer to the search.

Already here is clearly a parallel between Featured Snippet and Voice Search to recognize. If you appear with a Featured Snippet in the Google SERPs, it is also likely that in a parallel search query by voice command, the result of the Featured Snippets also emerges as a result in Voice Search and read to the user. Especially if the snippet shown is text-based, the same answer will come very often through the language assistant.

Also interesting: How Alexa and Co. will change our search behavior

Therefore, SEO should definitely optimize the website for Featured Snippets nowadays. The following optimizations increase the likelihood of appearing in a Featured Snippet and finally the chance to be read in Voice Search:

  • Website texts must now provide answers to the questions asked by the search engine users. It has to be researched which questions the target group could have about the offered product or topic and these questions have to be answered afterwards in an article.
  • The most frequently asked questions should be answered on the website – for example via FAQs. Online forums can help to generate content for the FAQs. Here, users discuss with each other and exchange views on current topics.

The process of joining Featured Snippets

It’s also important to be aware that you can get a Featured Snippet and then lose it again. This means the content was good enough for Google to test but is not good enough to keep.

In this case the content has to be tackled and optimized again. Over time, Google will see the changes and may decide to retest them, and eventually, in the best case, permanently replay them in the Featured Snippet.

Iteration Process For Featured Snippets
Iteration process on Featured Snippets (Image: eology)

Voice Search and Structured Data

The labeling of content according to schema.org is known to all SEOs. There are markups that can be used to uniformly structure the content of a website so that it can be processed faster by the search engine. Now, a voice-over markup has been added to structure content for language assistants. Here, content can be awarded that is particularly suitable for “text-to-speech”.

There is a lot of work behind the optimization for “Speakable Content”. Data must be marked correctly and the content adjusted if necessary.

Markup scheme Org
Markup schema.org with which speakable content for voice search can be awarded; Source: schema.org/SpeakableSpecification

What is speakable content?

When users use voice search, they ask real questions and expect both fitting and informative answers. Here, short and concise information is required. Therefore, the following content is suitable as speakable content:

  • FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact info / opening times
  • Content with local relevance
  • Definitions of technical terms

Attention: Currently the awarding of structured data for Voice Search is still marked with “pending” and not yet officially released. Nevertheless, the optimization of the content on Voice Search is already worthwhile today, for example to appear in the Featured Snippets.

Voice Search and Google My Business

Voice requests are often related to the location, such as “near me,” and are therefore local. Users often ask for local business information. Local SEO and the correct awarding of structured data is increasingly becoming the focus of attention. In this respect, it makes sense to strengthen its website regionally.

It’s a good idea to optimize the free business listing on Google My Business. This includes, for example, checking whether Google has correctly marked the location of the shop on Google Maps, a local telephone number and some photos and the possibility for a rating.

Also interesting: License to skill

Conclusion: “Ok Google, how can I prepare for Voice Search?”

To prepare yourself for voice search in SEO, you should optimize your website for featured snippets, properly structure structured data, and maintain the Google My Business account to be relevant to local language searches as well.

The important thing is that you consider: what do the users want? What do you ask? Then you should provide the appropriate answers to these questions on the website – for example, in FAQs or definitions.

About the author: Ramona Sahlmüller is SEO Consultant at eology GmbH in Volkach. There she advises clients from the most diverse sectors in the field of online marketing and deals with trends in search engine optimization.

For more information about voice search and search engine optimization, see the white paper “Search Engine Optimization for More Web Traffic”.

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