Voice search is on the rise. Here’s what you need to know to help your content rank higher in voice search.
In 2015, 1.7 million voice-first devices were in use, rising to around 24.5 million in 2017. In January 2018, new data suggested there were over one billion voice search queries per month. So, how can you get your content ready for the voice revolution?
VOICE SEARCH OPTIMIZATION: DO YOUR KEYWORD RESEARCH
Keywords are crucial to any search strategy. But when it comes to voice, keywords are more nuanced, so it’s important to think strategically. When doing keyword research for voice search, it’s important to review target keywords for voice intent. Then take the required steps to help search engines extract relevant content from your website.
There are a few key principles to keep in mind when it comes to voice search:
- It’s friendlier and more conversational than traditional search
- Search queries are longer and often framed as questions
- Search queries are more detailed and may require lateral thinking
- Content needs to be classified and easily extractable
For example, a traveler looking for flight information may be more conversational in their query:
“Google, find me some cheap non-stop morning flights to Paris next month.”
Google will always try to serve the most relevant results to users. In this instance that would require a number of precise content elements to be extracted from the page – price, stopovers, departure time, date and destination.
From an SEO perspective, the lengthy nature of voice searches means that long-tail keywords are even more important than before. Whole questions or even full sentences may form part of your qualified keyword list.
Thinking laterally around relevant brand, product, and industry attributes can help you rank for more semantic queries, increasing your brand presence and organic visibility in the process.
Once you’ve collected your keyword data, these two questions can help you determine which keywords to focus your efforts on:
- Which search terms are likely to be used in voice searches? (Question-based queries or keywords that trigger featured snippets are a good start.)
- Which are most relevant for your company and will drive conversion?
While a more conversational tone may help you rank better for voice search, be sure to protect and maintain a consistent brand voice.
AIM FOR ZERO
In the world of voice search, position zero is the new first place.
For certain queries, Google currently ranks featured snippets in position zero, above all other pages, containing information Google deems most relevant to the search query.
Digital assistants rely on featured snippets not only for information but also for identifying the source. So if you want to rank in voice search results, it’s essential to make your content worthy of a featured snippet.
You can do this by making your content easily extractable, enabling Google to find relevant information on your website quickly and easily. A simple way of doing this is to “mark up” or classify relevant page content with structured data from Schema.org. Labeling things like addresses and contact information are of great value for local SEO, as well as any other product attributes that users are searching for.
Another key to ranking in position zero is the layout of page content. Breaking text into manageable chunks is also important. Text-rich paragraphs are difficult to extract into a featured snippet – and are even less equipped for answering voice searches. So make sure to separate your information out clearly. Use headings, bullet or number lists as clear pointers to the key information.
FAQs, recipes, and methodologies are all great for voice search because they often contain the most direct answers to customer questions. It’s important they’re easy to find, represent your brand well, and contain relevant information.
FOLLOW GOOGLE’S GUIDELINES FOR VOICE SEARCH
According to Google’s 2017 guidelines, there are four key criteria you need to keep in mind for voice search:
- Information satisfaction: The information on your site needs to be relevant and answer the question.
- Length: Find a middle ground between too much and too little content.
- Formulation: Grammatically correct sentences are important.
- Elocution: Content needs to be easily pronounced and translated into speech correctly, so avoid using complex language
You can meet these criteria by making sure your content is clear, concise and correct – no matter the language. Professional, in-country linguists can make sure your content is both authentic and natural while remaining consistent with your brand voice.
KEEP IT LOCAL
Voice search is not just restricted to in-home technology like Amazon Echo; it can also be used on the go with smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, laptops, and in-car assistants.
And those users are likely to ask local questions – whether that’s for directions or restaurant recommendations. Voice searches like “What’s a good Thai restaurant near me?” are much more likely than “Thai restaurant Soho New York.”
This is particularly important for brick-and-mortar stores looking to attract customers. To rank for these searches, you’ll need more than just quality website content. Up-to-date information on Google My Business and other authoritative review sites like Yelp are crucial. A strong presence on relevant local directories is also advisable.
Both tourists and residents will be making voice searches, so you should consider covering multiple languages if it makes sense for your brand. You can do this by identifying your key audience demographic and the languages they speak. Catering to them as a starting point and expanding as needed later will help you build a successful multilingual voice search strategy.
GET READY FOR VOICE SEARCH MARKETING
When it comes to advertising, marketers are still just beginning to figure out what does and doesn’t work for voice search – but tentative research suggests that a more personalized approach will be required.
In an eMarketer survey, over a quarter of respondents said they would listen to an ad if it were personalized based on their searches or if they got to choose which brands they listened to. So be prepared to make a real connection with customers by:
- making sure your brand voice and identity are consistent and locally authentic
- connecting consistently with your audience around locally relevant voice search trends
By establishing these principles now, you can make sure that when voice advertising becomes a reality, it will feel like a natural extension of an existing customer relationship.
There are a lot of unknowns about the future of voice search. By keeping up with voice search technology and usage trends, and folding that into your SEO strategy, you can maximize your chances of engaging with the growing voice search market.