More people are adding smart speakers to their homes or using cell phones for online searches. Voice search is on the rise, and business owners who focus on it as a marketing strategy are ahead of the game.
Experts predict there will be around 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023. Commonly used consumer devices, such as iPhones and Amazon Alexas, respond to commands, offer information and control other connected devices. Smart homes are one of the most significant sectors in the industry, and there’s no end to the growth in sight.
If you haven’t considered voice search optimization in your overall marketing strategy, now is the time to implement the ways people look things up online into your plans. Here are some easy tips for adding voice SEO to your campaigns.
1. Figure Out Intent
Last year, Google released the BERT algorithm. BERT is a bit different than some of the past updates from Google, implementing new machine learning technology and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities.
What does this mean for your marketing strategy? Beyond keywords, the intent behind them is more critical than ever before. Not only should you do keyword research, but dig deeper into the reasons behind why people conduct the searches with the phrases they do.
For example, there is a big difference in someone looking for baby beds and baby doll beds. One will be concerned with safety, and the other may just want a fun solution.
2. Check Out Also Asked
Search engines now look at relevant questions when deciding how to rank your content. With voice search, people may ask a variety of related queries, and if your site answers the problems they have, you are one step ahead of the game. One example of this technique is on the Virginia Lottery website’s Alexa page. Notice how the page states the questions their target audience is likely to have, such as:
- What is the Powerball jackpot?
- What are the Powerball winning numbers?
- When is the next drawing for Pick 4?
This method works best when you have a fully fleshed out buyer persona and understand the needs of your typical customer. You can find other questions people asked in the “People Also Asked” section of a Google search.
3. Focus on Traffic
Unfortunately, features such as voice search and rich snippets bring in around half the traffic that a regularly linked result does. The reason for this is position zero. Google may display the information the person needs within the rich snippet box, and the person never even visits your website.
One solution is branding your answers so that your name appears over and over in any search. For example, you might formulate the question with something like, “Hey, Alexa. What does ABC Company say about when to change your furnace filter?”
Providing sample questions helps with voice search and gives you an opportunity for branding.
4. Use Natural Language
Natural language has been the focus for the last year or two. Historically, people talk differently than computers. However, machines are getting smarter and can understand natural language patterns. As a result, you can use headlines, keywords and text in the same way you would have a conversation.
Think about how you perform your own searches online. When you take out your mobile device and ask Siri a question, how do you word it? This way is how you need to formulate your headlines and keywords on your pages so that the smarter machines of today can direct users to your page.
One area where you may have interacted with a natural language processor and not even realized it is the chatbot features on websites or via Facebook Messenger. Experts use artificial intelligence (AI) to understand a variety of subjects and provide answers that make sense. Therefore, a human mediator doesn’t need to step in to point a person in the right direction.
AI technology is not yet perfect, and sometimes these chatbots can respond with the nonsense that doesn’t reflect the intent of the user. Chatbots are great for collecting basic info and saving the consumer and company time. At some point, however, a live agent should come into the mix to provide creative solutions and a personalized touch.
5. Focus on Local SEO
Studies show that customers are three times more likely to conduct a local voice search. People use their phones and home devices to ask for a nearby plumber, the top-rated restaurant or directions to a place they want to visit. Local businesses are missing a big opportunity if they don’t tap into this powerful marketing tool.
The best way to help voice searches along is to tap into keywords for your location, perhaps a city, a county or even a state. Include keywords in your questions and answers that people are most likely to use. For example, someone looking for a nearby restaurant might ask, “Hey Siri, where is the closest Italian restaurant?”
The device tracks the location and, even though the person didn’t say that they wanted an establishment in Philadelphia, the computer understands their request and will pull up the nearest restaurants. It’s vital that you word your answers to include street, town and state, as well as that you’re an Italian restaurant — or whatever type of business you own.
6. Pay Attention to Speed
You’ve likely heard that your website should display information as fast as possible. Rapid results also matter with voice search, too, as people who look for answers are usually in a hurry. They may be driving and need quick directions, for example. They don’t want to wait untold minutes for your site to respond.
Keep in mind that the person may not have their hands free to navigate to your actual site, so provide as much information as possible in your description and rich snippets. Don’t make users dig for the answer. If needed, break responses into smaller chunks.
Optimizing your site for voice search is a balancing act. Current wisdom suggests sites with longer articles perform better in searches and in how long people stay on the page. However, with voice search, short is better. Which one is correct?
The solution is to provide a mix of short and long features. You can also use rich snippets and break information into digestible chunks that work well both for the reader on a desktop computer and the mobile user who wants to skim for a fast answer.
Voice Search Marketing in the Future
As more and more homes take on smart features and people grow accustomed to using voice search, expect the number of hunts performed with verbal commands to rise. Voice search is beginning to impact the way marketers plan out keywords and how they present content on websites.
If you want to remain or become high in search engine results pages (SERPs), you should focus on voice search for the foreseeable future.
Staying ahead of the competition — and boosting your traffic — may be as simple as paying attention to the natural language of those around you, testing different techniques and seeing what works best with the current and future devices on the market.