Optimizing for Voice Search and Voice Assistants: 4 Search Strategies for 2018
With all the talk about the emergence of virtual reality, marketers forget about the changes happening right in front of them. Voice search is one of these phenomenons that is affecting search results right now, but one that marketers can easily capitalize on with the right optimization techniques.
How important is voice search optimization today? According to Search Engine Watch, Google voice search queries were up 35 times in 2016 compared to 2008. An even more incredible stat comes by way of Location World, that 40% of adults currently use voice search once per day.
Now do you see how important it is to optimize your website for voice search? Fortunately, it’s not rocket science. You can have your website ranking for certain phrases within a few weeks, if you start prioritizing the following four strategies today.
Questions over Keywords
Sure, keywords are all the rage when it comes to SEO, and yes, this still applies when we talk about voice searches. But voice searches are largely about answering questions, not about focusing on individual keywords.
If you’re trying to optimize a website for a flower shop, you wouldn’t focus on short-tail keywords like “fresh flowers” or “(insert city) flower shops.” Instead, you’d aim to address a consumer’s specific question like, “how to setup a flower arrangement for a patio area?”
This favoring of long-tail keywords is the prevailing trend in SEO in general, but it applies perfectly to voice search.
The easy thing you can do to start addressing these questions is to add an FAQ page to your site. If you can answer a series of questions with “value,” drawing on your industry expertise, Google’s search bots will recognize these efforts and reward you with a prominent voice search result. Or, at the very least, you’ll appear within the top 3 or 4 results on a voice search results page. Like so…
If you’re having trouble formulating a good set of consumer questions to address, don’t afraid to perform some outreach measures. Join forums, message boards, and use Quora to interact with consumers and fellow influencers alike. You can also reach out to your email list to identify which areas your consumers need the most help.
Local Search Optimization
Have you ever found yourself visiting a city for the first time and relying on your phone to tell you the best restaurants and places to visit? This is one of the largest applications of voice search today and it’s a continually growing trend.
Optimizing for voice search means optimizing for local SEO. Here are the main areas of overlap between the two:
- Google My Business listing – making sure your business address, phone number, and website are listed and accurate.
- Reviews – you want to collect lots of positive Google reviews. When somebody asks Siri for “best Thai restaurants in LA,” they’ll be shown places with the most reviews first. Study after study comes to the same conclusion: consumers use positive reviews to inform their purchasing decisions.
It goes without saying that the majority of voice searches are performed on some sort of mobile device. This means you’d better make sure that your site is good to go on mobile.
Additionally, Google has announced mobile-first indexing, meaning that it doesn’t really matter how responsive your desktop site is—if your mobile site is a dud, your search ranking will be a dud, period.
Creating a positive mobile experience means your content must be digestible to the user. Long paragraphs should be reconsidered in favor of short, 2-3 sentence tidbits.
Think about your own experience reading content on a mobile device. How many times have you given up on an article for no other reason besides the fact that it was too long and clunky?
Content for a mobile site should be succinct and concise, and clearly answer the question you’re trying to rank for in voice search. If it’s too roundabout, fails to directly address the question, and is written like a 500-page novel, don’t expect to be rewarded in the voice search results.
Video Content Creation
Lastly, a great way to sneak into the voice search rankings is by posting a YouTube video that answers the specific topic at hand.
It turns out that YouTube videos do show up in voice search results.
Here’s an example for “how to tie a tie:”
We’ve known for awhile that YouTube videos can outrank static web pages in normal SERPs, but this is apparently true for voice search as well.
If you’re camera shy, fear not. You don’t have to go in front of the camera if you don’t want to. Instead, you can answer a question using solely graphics and a voiceover. Idea Rocket Animation aptly calls these “explainer videos,” because that’s literally all they do.
Get to the Point
Pouring through all the statistics, data, and case studies about voice search can be headache-inducing. Rather than over thinking your strategy which leads to a crash and burn, try to break it down into the basic principle of answering your consumers’ questions.
Of course, figuring out those questions is where the grunt work comes into play (keyword research). But once you’ve decided on a set of questions, created content with actionable solutions, and optimized it for voice search and local SEO, you might be surprised to see how much your hardwork will pay off.