Their names are likely familiar: Alexa, Siri, Google, and Cortana. These digital assistants have created a phenomenon by drastically changing the landscape of technology and how people interact with it. Users can ask questions, schedule meetings, make phone calls — even shop online. Information is instantly accessed and easily delivered. But can your clients find you there?
Voice searches are rapidly becoming a common go-to, with an estimated 50% of all searches expected to be done via voice tools in 2020 (Comscore). More than 420 million voice assistants have been sold to date. Not only are they a key component of accessibility, but they offer ease of use for those with their hands full. While voice searches are changing the daily lives of users, they are also changing the way that businesses are marketing in a big way. To keep your company competitive, it’s important to optimize your content for voice search.
Local Search Results Optimization
The most common questions through digital assistants are about local businesses and their services. The more you can do to optimize your site and content for local searches, the better chance of attracting new customers. One option to optimize your local search is by listing your company through Google My Business. This free business profile lets you easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps. Select a category of your business to match search possibilities. For example, if your prime category is “Veterinary Clinic”, Google may show your business in search results for people looking for “animal care”, “veterinary services”, or “pet clinic”. Develop your content to easily answer location-based questions, and take advantage of this no-cost advertising.
Have you ever gone to a new business, only to discover that their business hours aren’t updated and it’s closed? This frustration can alienate potential customers for good. Avoid this fixable mistake by ensuring that your business hours are correct on all social media, your website, and any other online sources. Make sure that your address, maps, and location are available and will lead clients right to your door. This may seem overly simple, but we find that it’s very common for businesses to have outdated information or multiple Google My Business accounts set up with conflicting information.
Better Your Mobile Site
At this point, no one should have a website that isn’t mobile-friendly. Your mobile site and voice searches definitely go hand-in-hand. Since people tend to do voice searches on mobile phones more than other devices (so far!), your chance to land as a top result drastically drops without a mobile-friendly site. If you’re unsure how you rate, check out Google’s Mobile Friendliness Test
It may seem obvious, but increasing your site speed is a huge part of voice search optimization. Page speed is a ranking factor in mobile searches. A few quick ways to do this include enabling compression, reducing redirects, and using a content distribution network. You can also quickly optimize your images or graphics, since oversized images can make your website slow to load.
Topic Clarity and Intent
Your content should focus on answering the traditional questions of “Who, what, when, where, why, and how”. This allows a user to quickly find out about your brand, products, and services. This content also provides the keywords within your content, which allow voice search queries to receive more accurate answers.
Similarly, user intent is also essential. There’s a specific context to a search query that provides whatever answer is deemed most relevant. For example, asking Siri to show you a “scary movie”, will result in newly released horror films, not films from 1980. It goes under the assumption that you are looking for current movies to browse. Considering user intent as you create your content allows you to enhance the relevance of your pages, which leads to accurate responses. You can specify user intent in your content by identifying the queries that bring users to your site and drive traffic. Find navigational search terms by using analytics and webmaster data.
Two specific ways to do this are:
- Visit Google Analytics and navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels in the dashboard. Then click on Organic Search to see the keyword phrases people have used.
- Visit the Google Search Console. Click on the name of the website you want to check, and navigate to Search Traffic > Search Analytics to see the top search queries.
Structured data markup can be used to provide better information to mobile devices about your website and its content. This data is code that’s added to HTML markup, which helps search engines analyze and read your content efficiently. Through schema markup, you can better control the way you provide information about your brand, and the way machines interpret it.
Structure your answers efficiently. Generally, a short response of under 25 to 30 words is ideal, and more than enough to answer basic and common questions. For long-form content, utilize as many keywords as possible. Another recommendation is to have a voice search-based FAQ page, allowing concise responses. These tools help lead to increased traffic and your online ranking.
Similar to a brief synopsis on the page of a book, a featured snippet is a small bit of relevant content at the top of a search engine results page. If query results include a featured snippet, a voice assistant will pull its answer from it. Providing effective data and content in your featured snippet boosts your chances of hooking a potential client.
There’s a significant difference in searching online and voice searching. For example, you may be preparing for an upcoming holiday turkey dinner, and your Google search might be “turkey recipes”. To ask Alexa, it would be, “Alexa, show me turkey recipes”. Or even, “Alexa, show me a video on how to make a turkey.” The language is natural and similar to asking a friend for something, rather than short and to the point. Your content for voice searches should follow that natural tone and be written to reflect that. Writing your content differently for voice searches is necessary to optimize their responses.
While voice searches offer an incredible new way to attract clients, their popularity hasn’t even peaked yet. As people become more familiar and intrigued by these devices and assistants, their usage is increasing daily. The major developers of voice assistants are constantly developing dynamic features and unique capabilities for their devices. Future adaptations include a Search Console, which would provide actionable, personalized insights into how users are already reaching your sites through voice search. The ability to review your analytics will be invaluable and interesting.
The potential of voice searches is just unfolding. Make the most of it by optimizing your content now to boost your business and your brand.