Achieving top search position for dozens of keywords is the ultimate goal for many content marketers, but Google keeps throwing curveballs our way to make that quest even more difficult. One of these recent updates that is shaking up how we optimize our websites for SEO is voice search.
So what is voice search? Voice search makes it just a bit easier for us to find the resources and answers we need to make purchasing decisions by allowing us to input our searches audibly instead of typing them up. And because of this added layer of convenience, this won’t be going away any time soon. Organizations will have to consider this factor when optimizing their websites and webpages for SEO.
Voice search is still new, so many of us marketers are still trying to wrap our heads around how it works and its vast potential. The good news is that getting ahead of the game now will put you one step ahead of your competitors. Optimizing your website for this new search medium will give your SEO a huge boost and provide a more enjoyable customer journey and user experience. Most importantly, your sales and revenue could potentially skyrocket.
What Is Voice Search?
Voice Search enables users to use voice commands instead of typing to search for what they need. Users can search by opening their browser, clicking on the microphone icon to the right of the search bar, and recording whatever phrase they would type otherwise. These search terms can be as simple as “coffee shops” or “coffee shops in northwest Portland open Monday at 7 AM.”
With this feature being available on both desktop and mobile, the voice search option is quickly increasing in popularity.
Here are three best practices for optimizing your keyword strategy for voice search.
Consider How People Talk When Developing Your Content
Very few of us talk the same way we write, and we should expect to see that difference reflected in the way our target audience looks for information via voice search.
For example, while you might type in “Los Angeles restaurants” and then proceed to narrow down your search, you might voice search “What are some good restaurants near the Los Angeles Arts District?” Again, individuals who voice search are using this method because it’s convenient and probably don’t want to spend the additional time scrolling and narrowing down their search. You can optimize your content for voice search by including:
Questions: Incorporate “Who, What, Where, When, and Why” language into your content. Think of the information your target audience is looking for and how they’ll voice that question when speaking instead of typing. This practice will also drastically improve your chance of earning a featured snippet, which we’ll cover in the next section.
Location: Try to be as narrow and descriptive as possible when it comes to describing your location. Make sure to mention the neighborhood you’re in and nearby attractions in your content (whenever it makes sense to do so; don’t force it).
Related Products or Services: Is there a related product or service that your audience is constantly searching for? If so, you probably want to mention them in your content to ensure they can find you more easily. For example, marketing automation users often want to know if our platform integrates with the CRM they are using, so we make sure to include phrases such as “Does Act-On integrate with Microsoft Dynamics?” or “What are the benefits of integrating SugarCRM with Act-On?” throughout our website.
Highlight Your Competitive Advantages: The last thing you want is for your target customer to voice search “What is the best [insert product or service here]?” and have your company not appear in the search results. To prevent this from happening, make sure to mention what makes you stand out from the competition and feature plenty of positive customer reviews throughout your website.
You’ve probably scrolled through your search results and noticed that many times there’s a featured preview with the answer to the question you were looking for. And, as a marketer, you might be wondering how this company managed to get a bit more than just their website name and meta description featured in search results.
These highlighted posts are called featured snippets, and companies can earn them by offering what Google deems a thorough answer to commonly asked questions. As we previously mentioned, the introduction of voice search means that more individuals will be searching for more specific questions instead of generic terms. So you can kill two birds with one stone by structuring your content to answer frequently asked questions — you’ll improve your ranking in search results and increase your chances of earning that featured snippet spot.
Securing a featured snippet can help you do more than get your content front and center in search results. Better search positioning means better web traffic and more customers. And since securing this spot establishes your company as a thought leader, a featured snippet can also help you build trust and credibility with your audience early on in the sales process — providing added leverage over the competition.
If you’d like to learn more about how to earn a featured snippet on Google, check out this blog post we wrote on the topic not too long ago.
Sticking to SEO Basics Can Go a Long Way
You have to learn how to walk before you can run, and that same concept applies if you want to optimize your website for voice search. In other words, the two tactics we mentioned will go further if you have a solid SEO foundation to start with — and that means having good keywords, meta descriptions, and little-to-no errors. And by errors, I don’t mean just looking out for typos; you should ensure that your page is indexed, the meta description is the correct length, you are using the correct headings (H1, H2) with the proper keywords, and that your page doesn’t take too long to load.
If you’re completely new to SEO, it can be a very difficult concept to grasp — and you might not know where to start to make sure you’re on the right track. Thankfully, there’s a wide array of tools available to ensure your webpages are optimized. Act-On’s SEO audit tool, for example, checks your web and landing pages to verify that you’re following best practices with effective keywords and zero errors.
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