How to Optimize Your Site for Voice Search (VEO)

As voice search gains popularity, a new form of search engine optimization has arrived: Voice engine optimization (VEO). Learn how to optimize your website for voice search to ensure your website ranks when prospective customers are searching.

For years, we’ve all been optimizing our websites based on what people type into a search engine. We look at the keyword planner to see how people are typing search queries in, and then use those phrases to match the content we publish. A couple of years ago, people started to open up to voice search thanks to Siri and Google. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but as time went on, people got the hang of it and started using it more and more.

Fast forward to the last year, many more people are using it, and it’s not just for fun anymore. They use it to search while walking, driving, or just lounging on the couch watching the game so they don’t have to take their eyes off the screen.

Websites no longer are just ranked for search queries people are typing in, but instead for what people are saying into their mobile devices. This change in the way people are searching means marketers need to optimize our sites for voice search.

How to Optimize a Site for Voice Search

First things first, don’t stop implementing SEO best practices to rank on Google’s search engine results pages. You still need this because text-based searches still make up the majority of searches and will for quite some time. To broaden your reach, implement voice search engine optimization (VEO). To do this, you need to add information to your site to make it more accessible to that type of search.

Add Structured Data

Google has been pushing webmasters to use structured data for a while now, and one reason is because of voice search. Information included in structured data can be more easily accessed by voice search to find answers to questions people ask.

Structured data can be added to your website using schema or JSON. Google recommends JSON, which requires a bit of coding skills. If you’re not comfortable adding or editing code on your website, then I strongly recommend hiring an expert to implement structured data on your website.

Publish Answers to Questions

Most people who use voice search ask questions. That’s why a great tactic is to add an FAQ section to your website where you answer frequently asked questions about your product or service. This information is exactly what prospective customers are asking, so it’s highly relevant and more likely to be used as the answer.

Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly yet, then this needs to be No. 1 on your priority list.

Many people who use voice search are on their mobile device and in case you haven’t heard the big news, Google is moving to a Mobile First Index. That means if your website is not mobile-friendly, then you will be at a severe disadvantage in the voice search results.


Voice search is growing in popularity every day, and to stay ahead of your competitors, it’s important to set up your website to provide searchers with answers to their questions. This means adding structured data to your site’s content, adding new content that answers questions, and making sure your site is mobile friendly.

By taking the time now to cater to all users (desktop, tablet, mobile, digital assistant), you will be able to take advantage of not only text-based searches, but voice ones too.

Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.


An Introduction to Voice Engine Optimization (VEO)

Marketers should be looking at voice engine optimization (VEO) as a growing and important part of their digital marketing. But that doesn’t mean you need to run out tomorrow to add VEO to your arsenal. How quickly VEO becomes critical to your business depends on what business you’re in.

Marketers should be looking at voice engine optimization (VEO) as a growing and important part of their digital marketing.

I will admit that for a guy who has spent most of his career in close proximity to “The Next Big Things” in technology, I can be a bit of a cranky Luddite. Which is what keeps me from inviting, Alexa, Google, or Siri into my home in the form of a voice-activitated digital assistant.

And though my privacy paranoia may seem prudent given recent headlines about Facebook’s sharing of personal data, voice-activated digital assistants like the big three and others are not going away.

Nor are tie-ins to these voice-activated assistants built into other devices like our phones and televisions.

Clearly, I’m swimming against the tide and so are you if, as a marketer, you’re not looking at voice engine optimization as a growing and important part of your digital marketing.

What Businesses Will VEO Impact Most?

That doesn’t mean you need to run out tomorrow to add VEO to your arsenal. How quickly VEO becomes critical to your business depends on what business you’re in. For location-based and time-dependent businesses like local retail, you’re already late to the party. Most B2B businesses have some time before VEO becomes critical.

Before you get too comfortable waiting, recognize that voice-driven search already goes beyond the now-familiar, “Hey, Google. Where can I get a pizza right now?” Unexpected examples include universities using smart speakers to allow students to check schedules, set alarms, and review meal plan details and balances.

Similarly, hotel chains are piloting smart speakers to let guests adjust room lighting and HVAC in addition to finding local attractions, eateries, and transportation.

Why VEO Stakes Are Higher

Getting VEO right is even more critical than getting SEO right. Yes, we’d all like the very top organic spot on search engine results pages, but there’s still hope for spots 2-10. They typically garner about two-thirds of search clicks.

But VEO has only the top spot. If you’re not in it, you’re not anywhere.

How do we improve our odds of being in that one-and-only spot? Here are a few ideas.

Easily Understandable Content

Usually, when we talk about content that’s easy to understand, it’s the human audience for whom we want content that’s easy to digest. In this case, it’s the search engines that need to grasp it quickly and easily. Tools like Semantic HTML 5 and structured data markup make it much more likely that the search engines will understand what your web page is about. These tools can help provide context for everything from your contact information to details about the products or services you offer.

This is particularly true for Google. According to Tim Peter, the e-commerce and Internet marketing expert, “For Google Home, the key is less about voice specifically and more about targeting the featured snippet in Google’s search results or ranking well in local, depending on the nature of the query and the searcher’s intent. Your goal is to improve your ranking for the feature box or the local pack to ensure you’re offered as an answer in voice search. The great thing there is that you then gain the benefit from both voice and traditional search.”

Longer Search Queries / Question Answers

Voice search is frequently done in the form of fully-formed questions rather than the shorthand so many of us have been trained to use by our earliest search experiences. (Though that’s far less necessary now.) More conversational content can help you perform better in voice searches.

Website Performance

Though true for SEO, as well, site performance is even more important for VEO. The underlying reasons are very much the same as for mobile SEO. This is partly because, as Mr. Peter notes, “Many voice searches are conducted via mobile and tend to have either an explicit or implicit location intent.” Ranking better for local search will help in voice search, and fast-loading pages will help for both.

Test, Test, Test

If your business depends on VEO – or soon will – don’t be a cranky privacy paranoiac like me. Buy one – or all – of the voice assistants and test how well you perform for the customer questions you hear most frequently. If your competitors are outperforming you, reverse engineer their success and improve your own results.

One last note: it will be interesting to see how nomenclature and acronyms develop over time. “VEO” is actually “VEO™” as it is a registered trademark of Chatmeter. I get the sense this may wind up joining “Kleenex” and “Xerox” (and “Google” as a verb …) in popular usage.