Voice search is on the rise. We all have known this for ages but the voice search market may actually be growing faster than we expected.
Throughout the last few years, smart speakers have been taking the market by storm. With the emergence of Amazon’s Alexa (powered by Bing search), Google’s Homepod, and Apples’ Homepod (both powered by Google), voice search is naturally seeing unprecedented growth.
And the growth is likely to surge in the next few years. Companies have already started to fine-tune their marketing and SEO strategies to accommodate this new technology.
Voice Search Stats
By 2020, nearly all searches queries will be performed by voice
[Source: Just say it: The future of search is voice and personal digital assistants]. Because of its fast adoption, it’s no surprise that voice search is going to be the go-to product and information discovery method for consumers.
1-in-6 Americans now own a smart speaker
[Source: The Smart Audio Report, Winter 2018]
Smart speakers are integrated into our homes. Breakdown of the location of smart speakers in a home: 52% in living rooms, 25% in bedrooms, 22% in the kitchen.
[Source: 5 ways voice assistance is shaping consumer behavior] The availability of these devices inside our homes makes them integral parts of our lives.
Nearly 40% of adults use voice search at least once per day
[Source: Location World 2016] Due to the incredibly busy lifestyle we have these days, voice search is a perfect match. We can research our options, find directions and discover alternative products while on the go.
Mobile voice searches are 3x more likely to be based on location than anything else
[Source: How Will Voice Search Change SEO for Local Stores & Global Enterprises?] Voice search will primarily impact local business. People are looking for local coffee places, where to buy the best laptop, and how to get a better deal. Voice search is perfect for local business discovery.
Mobile phones and smart speakers combined are quickly creating a new market, i.e. “screenless” searching and buying experiences. The technology is further fostering the change as machine-powered voice recognition and natural language processing are both empowering the machines to become helpful home assistants.
While ecommerce voice search optimization is pretty straightforward – you need to optimize for mobile devices as well as implement conversational interfaces – content marketing optimization is something that still causes confusion.
How to optimize content for voice search queries?
1. Optimize for Intent
Mobile and voice search users are usually on the go. They need answers now, at this very moment which makes search intent even more important.
What is search intent?
Search intent reflects an action a user intends to take when performing a web search. The three main types of search intent are:
- Do (“buy”): This is called commercial intent
- Know: This is informational intent
- Go: This is navigational intent (When a user wants to navigate to a particular brand)
In most cases, intent can be mixed. For example, a user wants to go to a particular site to buy something.
Google has learned to recognize the search intent behind each particular query by tracking how its users engage with each particular search result page. We can learn from Google and adapt our content for each particular search intent by using Text Optimizer tool.
Text Optimizer is the content optimization tool that uses semantic analysis to extract related concepts and tools from Google’s search results. The tool gives a great deal of insight into what people tend to learn from each particular query and what sort of action they are willing to take:
Don’t use Text Optimizer to stuff your content with related terms though. The best way to use the tool is to use it for topic research and content structuring purposes:
- What are the particular angles I need to cover in my content to better satisfy the search users?
- What are the related questions people ask on this topic? (And hence how to structure my article to better answer all of these questions?)
2. Optimize for Many Similar and Related Queries
Voice queries are much more diverse than typed queries, which is quite understandable because spoken language is much more spontaneous than written text. Imagine speaking to a friend: This is pretty much the types of queries you are going to need to optimize for better search visibility.
In fact, if you don’t believe me, Google has found the same thing. According to their survey, 41% of smart assistant owners claim it feels like talking to a friend. Google actually has invested a lot of time and effort into turning their smart speaker into a real friend: The devices are getting better and better at understanding and responding to complete sentences with ummms and ahhhs in the middle, spontaneous sentence structures, and grammatically incorrect syntax constructions.
This is the future of search engine optimization: We need to optimize content for all sorts of similar and related queries that our target audience may speak to the device to perform a search.
Now, it doesn’t mean actually keyword-stuffing your copy with all sorts of query variations but it does involve keeping all those possible variations in mind when structuring your content. Keyword clustering technique can be a huge help for that: It groups your huge keyword lists by relevancy helping you to figure out your content optimization strategy.
[Thanks to the clustering technique, we know that an article on “easy hiking” should also include “beginner hiking” concept. While it may be important for organic search – even though Google is well aware these are two very close concepts – it is also important for engagement. Searchers – that have typed “beginner hiking” in the search box – are likely to stay on the page and keep reading once they see exactly that phrase on the page they clicked through from search results.]
3. Optimize for Questions
Voice search has brought about a new SEO challenge: Optimizing for natural (spoken) language. While there are plenty of ways to do that, none of them is perfect.
Optimizing for niche questions is not the only way to optimize for natural language. Nor is it an ideal way either. But at least it’s what we have at our disposal these days with a variety of tools that help research and aggregate questions around any specific keyword:
Tools for Niche Question Research
- Use Google’s “People Also Ask” boxes to collect questions around any query. Featured Snippet Tool helps you aggregate “People Also Ask” questions for all queries where your site currently ranks in top 15
- Google Suggest results can be used to extract interrogative queries. Both Serpstat and Ahrefs can help collect those. There’s also Answer the Public tool that extracts questions from Google Suggest results and builds a mind-map based on question words in each one.
- Buzzsumo Question Analyzer uses its own index to collect questions people ask on your topic around forums and discussion board. Buzzsumo’s index includes Quora, Reddit and Amazon’s Q&A section.
- Twitter Search can be used to monitor questions in real time. Simply monitor [keyword ?] – with the space – search results using Tweetdeck. You can create My Tweet Alerts to get those search results delivered to your inbox.
How to Optimize for Questions
Any time you are writing an article on a specific topic, collect as many related questions as you can and think if you can answer them in your content. To better optimize your Q&A content for immediate need, use the following tips:
- Use H2/H3 tag to markup the question and follow it immediately with a clear concise and factual answer (Use this writing checklist to never forget this step)
- Implement QAPage or HowTo Schema when applicable (You can even set up a separate section on your site dedicated to collecting and answering questions. The WordPress theme, InstaAnswer or DW Question & Answer plugin make this setup quite easy)
- Create a clickable table of contents (see a sample clickable table) to quickly take a user to a specific question and answer
4. Optimize Content for Lead Generation
Voice search users are on the go: they may not be willing (or have time) to buy from you right away but they may be willing to sign up to access a premium upsell or receive more content on the topic. This makes voice search optimization focus more lead-friendly content than sales-friendly content.
Here’s a great article on creating lead-nurturing content. Also, Finteza to monitor your lead generation efforts. Finteza is a free analytics software focusing on monitoring and visualizing your conversion and lead generation funnels:
Takeaways: Optimizing Your Content for Voice Search
- Voice search is upon us and it’s here to stay. The best time to optimize your site for voice search is yesterday, but now will also work
- The first step to optimizing your content for voice search is to tweak your content research process by including semantic SEO and question research into it
- To optimize for voice search, provide immediate answers to all sorts of related questions. Use structured SEO and a clickable table of contents to allow search crawlers and users to quickly navigate to the answers
- Voice search optimization means optimizing for immediate need and spoken (spontaneous) language. This includes optimizing for several related queries and giving quick concise answers
- Create content with lead generation in mind
Are you optimizing your content for voice search? Please tell us how!