Between Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant, it’s never been easier to interact with a digital assistant. Add in Samsung’s Bixby and Yandex’s Alice and the market seems positively crowded. But, these technologies aren’t just a fad – they’re here to stay and they are already having a noticeable impact on the way consumers search for and find content. Optimizing content for voice search is now a must for any business.
Google reports that 20% of mobile queries are now voice search, and according to a Northstar Research study (in partnership with Google) 41% of U.S. adults and more than half of U.S. teens now use voice search every day.
The number of consumers searching by voice is only going to grow, so how can you ensure they find your content?
We put together a few quick and key ideas for consideration in the new world of voice search:
Use Natural Language & Target Long-Tail Keywords
The way we search using voice is completely different to when we use a search engine. Consumers don’t pick up the phone and just say short keywords – they say a full sentence. Instead of typing “pizza shop Chicago” they might say “Show me pizza shops near me.” Voice queries are longer too, with an average query length of 4.2 words, compared to an average of 3.2 words for text.
To appear in these searches, you need to target long-tail keywords that use these natural phrases. Although these long-tail keywords have a lower search volume, they are higher converting because they often show a specific intent to act.
Focus on Questions
A large volume of voice searches come in the form of questions. Users want to know the what, where, why, how, and when. Frequently, they’re making these searches while they’re out and about – either driving or walking. Creating content that answers these questions is a great way to capture consumers who are searching by voice.
Data Mine Your Customer Service and Sales For Further Ideas
You can get more ideas for topics users might search for using voice by asking your customer services and sales teams. The questions consumers ask these teams – “how do I do this …”, “when can I…”, “why doesn’t…” – are good targets for your content.
Optimizing Your Website for Voice Search
You need to do more than just include specific keywords – you must optimize your entire website. For example, voice search terms are less likely to include location-specific keywords because smartphones already know where a user is – users don’t have to add their location to the search. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important – Google needs this information to connect your content with the user’s need.
Leveraging Structured Data Markup
Businesses should use on-page markup to inform web crawlers about the content on their website. A basic use would be to show these web crawlers where your address data is, but data markup can also be used to indicate information such as pricing, products, recipes, and events. The more information you give Google, the more likely you’ll be top when users search during voice search. You can get started using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
Optimizing for Mobile
Most voice searches are being made using mobile phones. If Google does not believe your page is mobile friendly, you’re much less likely to appear in the search results for these voice searches conducted on mobile. Check that your page is mobile-friendly using this Google tool and make any suggested changes.
SEO is no longer something that only the marketing team needs to be knowledgeable, and it is no longer a magic wand. Content strategies must integrate into broader marketing strategies. Marketing strategies are part of overarching business plans. Understanding customers across sales, marketing, customer service, and from a strategic level, will ensure that your brand is in front of people, regardless of where they are.
Remember, good marketing makes your business look smart by being in the right place at the right time, but ultimately, great marketing puts the consumer in the driver’s seat to become your customer.