How to optimize your content for voice search
Few trends grew so fast and required so many adaptations in Digital Marketing strategies as voice search.
A technology that barely existed at the beginning of the 2010s is now in the hands of almost every American — and it can be activated by a touch or a single “hello”.
But what exactly does the surge in voice search mean for your content? How can you adapt and gain visibility by appearing more frequently as an answer to your audience’s inquires?
In this post, we help you find some insights into the future. We discuss and understand the following topics:
What is voice search?
When we start talking about the technology that enables a machine to hear and understand a human inquiry, we need to go way back.
In fact, the first device created for that purpose was the IBM Shoebox in 1961.
But you don’t have to know how technology evolved and how it works to make it part of your strategy. All you need to know is how it affects your marketing from now on.
Nowadays, voice search is a system or software that uses A.I. not only to hear but interpret the user’s intentions so it can return results that are relevant for that specific question.
For example: if a person is about to leave home and asks Alexa, “Should I grab my umbrella?”, the software understands that this question should be in the context of wanting to know the weather.
So voice search is getting better by combining automatic recognition and sophisticated interpretation. And the more advanced it becomes, the more people start using it.
Why is it so important?
Yes, voice search is cool, and a lot of people prefer it as a convenience.
But why does that matter for CMOs and their plans?
The thing is, knowing the weather is just one small practical benefit for users. The majority of voice search systems today automatically Google what the user asks and return the first, most relevant result.
So SEO is the key to be prevalent in this new era. As the input demands some content optimization (we will talk more about it below), those who can shape their plans to embrace the technology will be ahead of the competition in a constantly growing field.
But will voice search surpass text? That is the trend calling for your attention.
Google reports that a little more than a quarter of the world is using voice search in 2020 — that means 2 billion people. And 62% of those say they are likely to buy something through a voice-activated speaker in the next month.
And those numbers are far from stagnating. Amazon claimed at CES 2020 that they had sold more than 100 million Alexa-powered devices around the world — a number that doubled only in 2019.
Beyond even that, we are seeing almost every smartphone bought in the U.S. leaving the box ready for voice search.
If we look at the estimated number of 275 million active devices in the country, we can surely say the technology is now mainstream, and we will only use it more in the future.
How to optimize your content for voice search?
One important statistic that perfectly explains why you should optimize your content right now: the majority of requests made via voice aren’t like the typical keyword searches we do in text.
That means marketers need a new approach when planning content and SEO now, and even more so in the future.
Let’s take a look at what some of the most prominent names in the area have to teach us about the actions you have to take to improve your visibility via voice search.
Focus on snippets
Snippets are direct and concise results Google features when they are recognized as a relevant and useful answer to a determined search.
For voice, as most of the time there isn’t even a screen on the device used, most results will always be returned from these.
They may come as a straight answer:
Or they can provide some steps to guide the user:
This content is usually taken straight from your blog or website, and link your audience with your brand without even visiting it. It is a great way to raise brand awareness and be seen as an authority on that subject.
Snippets are so powerful they are called Position Zero, a result before the results. And they are even more important for voice search.
Brands looking to reach consumers using verbal answers from their assistants must learn to answer questions simply.
Structure your content better
Featured snippets tell us a simple truth about voice search: direct, short, and easy-to-understand answers are more prone to be chosen by Google as the first result.
Then a great tip is to pay closer attention to meta descriptions, lists, subheadings, and introductions that are more natural and direct to the point.
A well-structured content results in double benefits for your company: it appeals more to Google’s indexation tool and grabs your audience’s attention quicker. Both reinforce your brand’s authority and generate more traffic.
Optimize for questions
Consumers using voice search usually do so in the form of a question — a lot more than when they are writing. And that means marketers should optimize at least part of their content for question-specific searches.
Most of those phrases start with who, when, what, why, how. They do that to get instant answers like the weather, to look at the traffic.
But they also look up information about a brand or compare products. If your content provides assertive and direct answers that fit those questions, you will constantly be picked as the best result.
Experiment with voice assistants
When you write content aimed at boosting organic traffic, you probably do some tests on the keyword, and the kind of results ranked at the top.
As voice search has its particularities, you should be doing the same specifically for it. Use Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, every major technology on the market.
Experiment with different questions related to the keywords and see how they answer, what results they show.
If you are not receiving the outcomes you expect, you should consider whether consumers are using different words or phrases when talking rather than writing — and tweak content based on that.
Hear how your content is read
When Google finds an answer that fits the question made, it often uses its Text-to-Speech technology to read a featured snippet or the introduction of an article to the user.
Most voice assistants have sophisticated TTS tools, but some words and phrases can sound strange and make them look at the next results for a better understanding.
So, when testing multiple voice searches, pay attention to how they read what your team wrote. This simple action can help you tweak and improve the content.
Address local intent
In a study conducted by BrightLocal in 2018, they found that 58% of the U.S. consumers used voice search to find local businesses. This shows how the combination of mobile and voice is powerful for local online marketing.
Individual locations can use Google My Business to take advantage of that. It is a strategy that involves not only keeping your listing up to date but also writing content with local intent to capture the attention of consumers in the area.
Using schema (structured data markup) helps search engines figure out what is on a given page, and allows machine learning algorithms to access your data easily.
That means marking up for Google’s Knowledge Graph and learning to optimize using the pending Speakable markup from Schema.org, which indicates sections of a page that are particularly appropriate for text-to-speech conversion.
Having details about a product or service like pricing, color, stock, and features marked up in schema can improve the chance crawlers will find it. And it will give richer answers about your company to the audience.
Remember SEO best practices
And, of course, don’t forget the basics. SEO is still the best way to get organic traffic and retain your visits via voice or text.
All the tips we gave here should be tied to a mobile-friendly website, with good performance and perfect user experience. Using PageSpeed Insights can help you with that.
All of these efforts, in the end, are pointed at the same goal. The marketers adapting their Content Marketing for voice search today will have a higher volume and quality of content for Google to choose from when the technology becomes mandatory.
So start now by including voice search in your Digital Marketing plan. Learn even more about how it works and how devices deal with it. Then put these tips into action and follow your audience’s new habits.
And how about strengthening your strategy learning even more by climbing Google results? Download now our complete SEO guide!