Have you noticed how digital assistants have been transforming the way people search for content and look for answers to their queries? In today’s voice search revolution, virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant have become indispensable tools for real people who are searching the web.
A 2017 study by Capgemini Research Institute—which surveyed e-commerce consumers across the UK, United States, France, and Germany—led to a couple of startling revelations: 51% of consumers are already users of voice assistants, with smartphones being the most dominant method of use.
Since voice search is the new way to search, your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts should now make a shift toward voice queries. To stay competitive in the online industry, the need to optimize content for voice search is important now more than ever.
How do you optimize for voice search? Adding these steps into your content marketing strategy is a great way to get started.
1. Know the Types of Questions That Customers Are Asking
The average user of the internet will ask all sorts of questions, but when it comes to your business or industry, your customers will have more or less the same questions. Perhaps they want to know what your best-selling product or service is, but it’s not likely they’ll stop with that question. They’ll probably be asking for more information about that product or service, such as how it works, how much it costs, or how they can purchase it.
Once you’ve determined what types of questions your customers are asking through surveys, your website, social media, and other channels, you should then create varied content that’s built around those queries.
Here are some options you have when creating content that’s best suited for voice search:
- Build product pages or service pages on your website where you provide information specific to whatever it is that you’re selling.
- Organize a page containing frequently asked questions (FAQs) as this content format can be effective in addressing search queries. Remember to keep your FAQs as short and concise as possible to meet the best practice of using 40-50 words, which can increase your chances of getting ranked as a featured snippet.
Place interrogative words on the subheaders of your blog posts to match the question style that people are using to search for information.
2. Localize Your Content
One of the most valuable uses of voice search is its ability to cater to local search. In fact, out of billions of voice searches recorded in January 2018, 40% were local searches. These searches refer to when someone’s trying to gather information about nearby businesses or establishments.
To serve the most relevant results for voice search users, Google has put together the Google My Business (GMB) listing. Whenever users conduct a local voice search, their device automatically pulls up content from companies that may be a match to what users are searching for.
To leverage GMB for your business, you need to optimize your GMB listing based on your location. This will then enable your business to show up for queries containing phrases like “near me” or “nearby.”
By listing your business in Google’s online directory, you can share the contact details of your business, educate customers about your offerings, and provide a way for them to communicate with you. Needless to say, all of these things can drive not just your voice SEO rankings but also your conversion rates.
As long as you’re making it convenient for customers to find you on local or mobile search, they’re likely to follow it up with a phone call, a store visit, or even a purchase.
3. Improve Readability
Although voice search capabilities involve using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, this doesn’t mean you need to write your content in a stiff, mechanical manner.
Sure, Google wants you to provide relevant answers to queries, which is one way of giving the best positive experience possible to end users. Then again, the search engine also wants you to formulate your response in a way that’s easy for users to understand, especially because they’re receiving the information not just visually, but audibly. Obviously, you can better establish your credibility if your verbal response sounds as good as the information it contains.
Keep your content as simple as possible by breaking it down with subtitles, bullet points, numbered lists, quotations, highlighted passages, and the like.
4. Use Natural Language
Compared with text-based search queries, voice searches sound more natural. You would, of course, expect that someone asking Siri or Alexa a question will be phrasing it in a complete sentence, similar to initiating a conversation with real human beings. This is in contrast to traditional Google searches, where the user strings together the most important keywords to convey the question they have in mind.
When it comes to keywords, it’s the long-tail ones that provide better context and allow search engines to understand your content, so be sure to place them into your content too.
Another aspect of making your content sound as natural as possible involves using the same language that your customers are using. You can’t expect all of your customers to speak in technical jargon, so make it a point to tailor your content based on the terms and expressions that your customers are using to refer to your business, product, or service.
The Impact of Voice Search to the Marketing Industry
There’s no more denying the fact that voice assistants are paving the way for the voice search revolution, where businesses and customers alike can engage with one another in new ways. Whether you’re a small business looking to capture a local market or a bigger company trying to strengthen your online presence, your marketing strategies will need to include optimizing your content for voice search.
At the end of the day, keeping up with the voice search revolution is not just about updating your SEO strategy, but a large part of it should also include updating your content marketing strategy.