The Emerging Role of Voice Search in Healthcare

Voice assistants, like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and Siri, provide the answers to more than one billion searches conducted per month. Voice search has grown 35x since 2008 and it is predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. Voice search is here and it is growing each day.

And consumers are not just using Alexa to buy spices while cooking. Consumers are now turning to voice assistants to help them navigate the healthcare industry at all stages of the patient journey. From finding the nearest cardiologist to learning more about atrial fibrillation, healthcare searches are exploding.

Penetration Rates of Voice Search

The above graph shows healthcare is the second most active industry for voice search. This shift in healthcare SEO means marketer need a voice search strategy now, as it is starting to play an increasingly important role in SEO activity.

How to Optimize a Website for Voice Search

Voice assistants often present only one answer, often called a direct answer or featured snippet. These are the boxed answers that appear at the top of the first search engine results page (SERP). While you cannot guarantee placement in featured snippets or voice searches, you can greatly increase your opportunities to rank for such search inquiries.

Optimize Your Website

  • In order to improve your rank in voice search, it’s critical to have a mobile friendly website. In today’s world of online marketing, all websites should be mobile responsive, so we won’t dwell on this topic for long.
  • A second major requirement for website optimization is quality performance and speed. Google is placing an increasing emphasis on speed and it’s an important element of any mobile search.

Optimize Your Content

  • Do keyword research
  • Remember the patient journey
  • Focus on questions
  • Remember that voice searches tend to be longer searches and more conversational in nature
  • Write concise content summaries that directly answer the questions you’d like to rank for
  • Keep Speakable text at about 20 to 30 seconds to read

Utilize Speakable Schema

A SpeakableSpecification schema element is typically provided via xpath or cssSelector and it relates to sections of a document that are highlighted for voice search. Structured data implementation of this schema would apply to voice search content only and it would not relate to an entire article or web page.

Google specifically calls out this schema usage with the following statements:

“The speakable property identifies sections within an article or webpage that are best suited for audio playback using text-to-speech (TTS). Adding markup allows search engines and other applications to identify content to read aloud on Google Assistant-enabled devices using TTS. Webpages with speakable structured data can use the Google Assistant to distribute the content through new channels and reach a wider base of users.

The Google Assistant uses speakable structured data to answer topical news queries on smart speaker devices. When users ask for news about a specific topic, the Google Assistant returns up to three articles from around the web and supports audio playback using TTS for sections in the article with speakable structured data. When the Google Assistant reads aloud a speakable section, it attributes the source and sends the full article URL to the user’s mobile device through the Google Assistant app.” offers the following SpeakableSpecification properties:

SpeakableSpecification Properties

While the structured data implementation for voice search can feel intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Google provides clear instructions on what is needed, what to avoid, and what can get you in trouble.

Is Your Healthcare Website Ready?

The voice-enabled future of healthcare brings new opportunities for medical marketers to reach their audience in ways they never had before. Researching keywords, crafting concise, conversational content, and implementing schema will help you successfully master healthcare voice search in no time.

If you’d like help optimizing your healthcare website for voice search or support for other healthcare schema markup, we’d love to help. Just reach out and request a call with one of our SEO experts.