Virtual assistants are continuously improving on their abilities to understand voice commands and respond to them with accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Consequently, voice search is becoming more accessible; its use is growing steadily. Android reports that 1 in 5 searches on mobile in the U.S. are voice searches and it’s expected that by 2019, 67 million voice-assisted devices will be in use in the U.S. alone.
Ultimately, voice search is changing the way marketers think about, and publish, content. Though a challenge, it also presents an opportunity to further provide valuable information to their audiences.
It’s reported that 62 percent of marketers have no plans to incorporate voice search into their strategies this year. But if you’re already publishing content, getting your brand ready for voice search doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are six simple ways to optimize your content for voice search.
1. Adjust content to mobile voice search
Mobile marketing is taking the limelight as smartphone usage continues to rise. Considering that almost all voice searches occur on smartphones, there’s a clear overlap — optimizing for voice search inevitably means focusing on how mobile searches are conducted.
Mobile behavior points to so-called micro-moments:
- “I want to know” moments: Users are researching a specific topic
- “I want to go” moments: Users are looking for shops or businesses in a specific area
- “I want to do” moments: Users are looking for information and instructions on how to do something
- “I want to buy” moments: Users are searching for certain products
Additionally, voice search is typically conducted while on the go when it’s much more convenient than typing — from searching for the nearest restaurant to looking for the fastest way to get from point A to point B.
The frequency of queries such as “near me” brings high local value to businesses with a physical address. They can use these micro-moments to capture the attention of more customers.
2. Use natural language
We speak differently from how we write, so unsurprisingly, people use more natural language patterns when speaking to digital devices. This means that with the rise of natural language processing, it’s time to focus on adapting your content to make it more conversational. Here are a few tips:
- Avoid overt marketing messages. People are not looking for marketing messages when speaking to their devices. Rather, your brand should act as a publisher to provide useful information related to the previously mentioned micro-moments.
- Keep it simple. Voice assistants will read your words back to users, so the simpler, the better. Every word counts. Take the time to answer your audience’s questions clearly and directly. Watch for cliché phrases, redundant words, buzzwords and jargon that aren’t useful to your audience.
- Read your content out loud. How will your writing sound when read back to the user? Reading it out loud will help you identify where you may need to cut words. If you have to take a breath or two in the middle of a sentence, it’s probably too long.
[Related: How to Create Readable Content]
3. Target long-tail keyword phrases
Users typically search through voice much like we ask each other questions, using more words than in a traditional text search. Keyword phrases are likely to be more detailed in voice search, where it takes less effort to articulate exactly what it is exactly that you want.
By targeting long-tail keyword phrases, you’re more likely to cater to a voice search audience. Conduct keyword research for long-tail phrases, and optimize your content accordingly. Long-tail phrases also allow you to target users with more specific questions or intentions. This provides an opportunity to attract better-qualified prospects.
4. Add an FAQ section
Including an FAQ section within your content and on your website is a smart move toward optimizing for voice search. By expanding the FAQ content on your website, you’ll seize the opportunity to grasp both long-tail searches and voice search traffic.
These types of changes and customizations on your website shouldn’t be a problem logistically — the general practice among the best web companies nowadays is ensuring that websites are flexible enough, especially for SEO purposes.
But even outside of the FAQ section, always look for straightforward ways to ask questions and provide answers to them within your content. This gives you the chance to get your result featured in the snippet responses of virtual assistants.
5. Conduct a technical SEO audit
No matter how advanced your website, a technical SEO audit acts as a great check-up. You can catch where your site may be under-performing in organic search. Things like page speed or your XML Sitemap should be checked to ensure a favorable user experience, which can improve your search rankings.
Also on the technical side, you’ll want to add Schema markup to your site. This tells Google and other search engines the information you want a search to return. Schema gives the opportunity for your content to be stand out as a rich snippet such as a featured snippet or image carousel.
When it comes to voice search, earning a featured snippet is a huge success because your content is more likely to be delivered to searchers. Though adding Schema markup to your website doesn’t guarantee a featured snippet, it increases your chance of earning one.
While many marketers may need a developer to conduct these check-ups and implement the coding changes, it can have an impact on how well your content performs in search.
6. Stay up-to-date on accessibility standards
Following the web content accessibility guidelines and staying updated is a great way to ensure your content is optimized for voice search. Don’t underestimate the importance of framing your strategy around standards, especially when people access information in various ways. If you follow the guidelines, you’ll ensure that your content is machine-readable, so that search engines can index it properly and people can find it easily.
The rise of voice search
By simply optimizing existing content, there’s no need to shift your strategy entirely towards voice-search. While there are other creative campaigns and promotion tactics you could execute for voice search, these six points are a great place to start as the popularity of voice search increases.
Natasha is a web designer, lady of a keyboard and one major tech geek. She enjoys collaborating with awesome blogs and sharing her knowledge about IT, digital marketing and business trends.