Have you noticed how many TV and online ads are focusing on smart speakers and voice assistants?
From Google’s Assistant and Home, Amazon’s Alexa and Echo to Apple’s Siri and HomePod to Sonos One.
According to data from the USA, in May 2018 “13% of US households owned a smart speaker in 2017 with a further 53 million devices expected to be shipped in 2018”.
But while you may use Voice Searches on a regular basis in your personal life, “Hey Google, what’s the weather today in Melbourne?” it’s important to consider the impact Voice Search will have on your business and its online ranking.
Kevin Gibbons, Co Founder and CEO of Re:signal in a recent SEM Rush webinar noted,
“The future of search is at an exciting time right now with 50% of searches predicted to be voice by just 2020”.
What is the future of Voice Search?
I’ve been around the SEO world for a while now, and am used to predictions about ‘the next big thing’. But the thing about Voice Search is that it’s here right here, right now.
And if your business isn’t optimising website content for Voice Search, you may be missing out on customers and sales. In the SEM Rush webinar Kevin Gibbons said,
“Today SEO isn’t just about the standard how do you optimize your website for a Google search result (desktop search and mobile)…it’s about thinking much further beyond that.”
He explains the trend is increasing towards mobile apps, featured snippets (which don’t require a click through to your website), voice and virtual/augmented reality – all of which don’t require a website.
Kevin Gibbons continues, “Google’s role has always been to navigate people to the best answer. The SEO role is to be the best answer, irrespective of the platform or device”
This change in the search landscape means that the technical SEO is no longer just about dealing with algorithm updates.
All SEO must also take into account user behaviours, “If customers are searching for things in different ways, we can’t rely on the old ways to attract them.”
When human and search behaviours change it’s crucial that businesses adapt.
Image sourced from SEM Rush Webinar
And because Voice Searches make it easier to ask a question and get an answer, the opportunities for businesses to capitalize from this are amazing.
Kevin Gibbons predicted that with more smart speaker sales happening and the prices dropping, there would be a time when a household has several devices throughout the home.
If you have a business website, it’s important to start refreshing and tweaking your website content so it answers questions your customers are interested in.
From an FAQ page to optimising content for structured Featured Snippets.
Taking the time to do this right now will ensure your business won’t miss out on Voice Search opportunities.
How to optimize your website content for Voice Search
In a recent article from Backlinko Brian Dean notes, “You DON’T need to completely overhaul your site. In fact, you can get your site ready for voice search SEO with a few simple tweaks.”
With research indicating that over 40.7% of Voice Searches coming from Featured Snippets and over 80% of Google Home content from them, “getting in the Featured Snippet is like a voice search cheat code.”
Step 1: Revisit your FAQ page
Compared to desktop results, it’s estimated that voice search results are 1.7 times more likely to come from a FAQ page. And because Google usually answers voice search queries with 29 word results, Brian Dean suggests it’s a good time to create FAQ pages that answer keyword questions in fewer than 30 words.
Step 2: Meet informational needs in the right context
Dawn Anderson, Director of Move It Marketing has several presentations focusing on Voice Search. By understanding differences between informational needs, navigational needs and transactional needs for your business, you can optimise your content for Voice Search.
Dawn Anderson suggests that you keep answers short and get to the point quickly by answering informational needs questions including “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” and are generally:
- Quick Answers
- How to articles
Step 3: Have an understanding of Voice Search guidelines
In December 2017 a Google AI blog released guidelines about Google Assistant and how it evaluates content for question answering, voice interactions and voice-guided exploration.
Google notes, “spoken responses are very different from display results, as what’s on screen needs to be translated into useful speech. Furthermore, the contents of the voice response are sometimes sourced from the web, and in those cases it’s important to provide the user with a link to the original source. While users looking at their mobile device can click through to read the original web page, an eyes free solution presents unique challenges.”
To generate the best audio response while keeping answers fluent, concise and with good grammar, Google Assistant uses a combination of deep learning solutions and linguistic knowledge.
Step 4: How to write good content for Voice Search
Earlier this year, Roger Montii from Search Engine Journal noted, “You probably shouldn’t write your content especially for voice search. But understanding the kinds of content that couldn’t be summarized may help avoid not having your content summarized and ranked.” He explains that there are 4 kinds of features that make content difficult to summarized for Voice Search including:
1. Content with quotes
2. Content with too many commas
3. Content with nothing to remove
4. Content which has important contexts of events in it
While there is no ‘secret technique’ to writing content specifically for Voice Searches, Roger Montii suggests that you check that a good place to start is to check the content sounds natural when it’s read aloud.
SEO copywriting tips: how to write content using natural language
There’s a lot of information around about how to write content using language for Voice Searches. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is one of the latest ways that can help content writers and SEO copywriters streamline their process. Natural Language Generation is another tool that can be used to create content for Voice Searches.
But what if your business can’t get access to or afford these types of tools and programs?
I believe that when writing content creation for Voice Search the basics of online content writing must still be at top of mind:
1. Who is going to search for the content?
2. What issue/s will prompt them to search for it?
3. Does the content address a fear, desire, hope or dream?
4. Does the content have a clear call to action?
5. What benefit will they get from the content?
6. Is the content unique and/or different to your competitors?
Need help with optimising your content for Voice Search? Contact me here.