How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search
Do you want more local consumers to find your website in order to learn about life insurance or get a quote? If so, it’s time to optimize your website for voice search.

Digital assistants and devices that use AI continue to gain in popularity. This means more people are telling Siri, Alexa, Google Now, or Cortana to find things online. According to Statista, 28% of device users think voice search is more accurate than a standard keyboard query. 43% use voice search because it’s faster, while 38% think it’s just plain more fun to use.

But there’s more. Google tells us that 55% of teenagers use voice search every single day. What happens in a few years when those teens are out on their own, managing their finances? Chances are, they’re not going back to a keyboard. In other words, voice search is here to stay.

Here’s how you can tweak your existing online content to make it easier for voice search to find you.

Step 1: Learn How People Talk to Siri, Alexa, Google Now, and Cortana

Voice search is different from typed queries. A consumer looking for life insurance quotes might type in a jumble of relevant words, like this: “life insurance man 40s diabetes.” But the same consumer would never ask Siri for information that way. Instead, he might say, “Siri, can I get life insurance if I have diabetes?” If you're not targeting the right search phrases, this prospect might slip through your fingers.

So how do you know which phrases to target? When you speak to clients on the phone, start jotting down the exact phrasing they use when they ask you questions. This is how they’d ask the same questions to their digital assistant. Keep a note pad by the phone, if it helps to remind you to do this. If you're a fast typer, open a simple text file on your computer and type the questions as they're asked.

In 2017, 25 million voice-search devices will be shipped. – VoiceLabs

Here’s another idea – watch carrier commercials. What words and phrases do they use? Consumers are likely to pick these up, and they may use them in voice search queries.

For example, Colonial Penn runs life insurance commercials featuring Alex Trebek. They’re very careful with the words they use – in the commercial we watched, the words “permanent whole life insurance” appeared on screen, but weren’t in the script.

Why? Because the audience doesn’t know what it means. Instead, the script mentioned “affordable life insurance that’s simple to get.”

As a second example, this commercial only used the word “premium” once. Instead, the script hammered on the word “rate.” Imagine a consumer watching this commercial and wanting more information. If they did a voice search, what words will be stuck in their brain after watching that commercial? These are the words and phrases you want to use in at least some of your consumer-facing content.

Step 2: Make Sure Your Contact Info Is Front & Center

If someone visits your home page, is your contact info visible in text form? Many agents use an image as a page header, with a photo and their contact info in the image itself. But unless you’ve also created alt and title tags for that image, the photo doesn’t help Siri or Alexa find your location or phone number quickly.

Be sure your name, address, email address, and phone number are in plain text on your home page – and any pages you want local shoppers to be able to find. This includes your quoter, your "about me" page, and any pages with offers or giveaways designed to encourage prospects to give you a call or make an appointment. If you're okay getting texts from prospects, let them know - digital assistants can text via voice command.

In 2016, people used voice search queries on Google 35x more than in 2008. – Search Engine Watch

Step 3: Incorporate Voice Search Phrases into Your Content

As you publish new blog posts or revamp your existing pages, think about how consumers really talk. In the old days, back when keyword stuffing and similar SEO tricks actually worked, you might have posted content with phrases that search engines liked, but humans didn’t.

Voice search flips that trend 180 degrees.

If you’re not sure anything needs to change, consider this – Google is giving its AI romance novels to read in order to improve its conversational skills (I kid you not). While the idea might sound silly at first, the goal is to teach AI how people really talk – in short, direct sentences without jargon.

If you’re still not convinced, check out this Contently post where the blogger ran a number of best-sellers through the Flesch-Kincaid index to determine their reading level. Ernest Hemingway’s Pulitzer-prize-winning novel, The Old Man and the Sea, scored a 4th grade reading level. None of the authors tested, from Jane Austen to JK Rowling to James Patterson, reached a 9th grade reading level.

The lesson here? Keep your content simple and clear. Consider asking questions in your subheaders. This will make it easier for voice-directed search engines to match your content with a user’s query.

40% of adults use voice search once a day. – Comscore

Step 4: Be Present on the Sites Voice Search Pulls From

If you ask Google to show you a list of Italian restaurants near you, where does Google pull that information from? Is it from the equivalent of a mobile or desktop search…or do you get a list culled from Yelp? Do you get listings pulled from Google business pages?

Sometimes having your own website isn’t enough. You may also need to be listed on Yelp, Facebook, Google Business, and more.

These sites collect information and reviews. To increase visibility, you may want to start asking your clients to leave a review if they’re happy with your service. You could even build this step into your annual review process. If it’s a simple matter of adding a line to your existing client correspondence templates and including a link to your business’s listing on Yelp or Google, that’s a small change that could reap big rewards.

Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search to research products. – Social Media Today

Step 5: Test!

Try voice search for yourself and see what happens. What do you get when you ask Cortana to find life insurance agents in your city? What happens when you ask Siri how to get a life insurance quote online? Compare these results to results from the same search performed on a desktop, or a keyboard search performed on mobile. Are the results agency or agent websites...or are they business or Yelp listings?

The more you know about how voice search works, the more you can optimize for it.

Do you use voice search? What's your experience with it? We'd love to know - tell us in the comments!