How to Optimize for Voice Search

To quote one of my favorite recording artists, Sam Cooke:

“Change is gonna come.”

With the introduction of voice assistants like Alexa, Google Now and Siri, I predict that voice search may surpass traditional type-search in the not-so-distant future, making for yet another incredible technological advancement.

Around the office, we often discuss how much we treasure our handy little assistants. I know I use Alexa on the daily. She’s a good woman; an even better know-it-all. She can keep me in the know with any and everything as I sit comfortably in the corner of my room, sipping coffee and trying to wake up for the day.

 

With the introduction of voice assistants like Alex, Google Now and Siri, we marketers must optimize for voice search.

As rad as it is to have a friend around to look up all the things as I bark orders, it also marks the evolution of digital marketing as we uncover how this changes our optimization practices. It changes how I do my job. I’m not complaining–it keeps me on my toes. A new term has even come out of the deal: voice search optimization, or VSO.

So, how does this change things for content writers, digital marketers and SEOs? Read on.

Target Like You Talk

This is the part I’m excited about–we can focus more on targeting the human and less on targeting the bot. Cue happy dance.

 

As digital marketers, it is essential that we optimize for voice search in the digital age, which means targeting the humans instead of the bots. HAPPY DANCE!

Semantic search is a major player in the SEO game now more than ever, because it is much more human. Semantic search improves accuracy by attempting to discern contextual information and intent.

These searches are much more conversational, and instead of targeting just a few specific keywords, you can expand to include long-tail keyphrases.

This change in VSO has caused the search engines to adapt in a way that allows them to provide more suitable search results.

So the search engines all got together one day and, realizing that they needed to include related data sets instead of just focusing all of their figurative energy on keywords, they changed their ways.

Instead of queries like “breakfast spots in Houston,” searchers are speaking queries such as “where to eat crepes in Houston.”

There’s a question in that query with a valuable takeaway for digital professionals: Target question keyphrases. Searchers are highly likely to ask their voice assistants questions in today’s digital landscape, so we must target those questions.

As professionals in the digital realm, we must also change our ways by realizing that people are speaking their queries. The solution is quite simple: target like you talk.

Optimize for Local Search Listings

Local search listings are gems, because one of the most abundant uses of voice search is with a hyper-local focus.

People love to ask their voice assistants questions about things to do around them. Give the people what they want! Notably, searchers often pose queries for places they can go:

  • “OK, Google. Find Chinese food delivery near me.”
  • “Alexa, what’s the best bar near me?”
  • “Siri, where is the closest movie theater?”

If a query includes the phrase “near me,” the voice assistant will automatically refer to the GPS location of the mobile device. Next, it cross-references the location data with local listings.

Basically, your business will not do well with mobile voice search queries if you’re not listed, so get to it!

Become a Better Listener for Voice Search Optimization

You’ve heard the adage that to become a better writer, you should read more. Well, to become a better search marketer, you need to listen more. Can I get a show of hands for who here talks the same way they write?

I’ll wait…

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who writes exactly the way they speak, so it goes to reason that the way searchers utilize voice queries will differ drastically from the way they type them.

If you listen to how people reference your brand or business, you will get a better idea for how they may use a voice assistant to ask questions about your business or industry.

To use the earlier example of the movie theater, a searcher may enter “movies near me” on their keyboard, but when using voice search they would most likely say, “what movies are playing near me?”

So clean out those ears. Listen to the way your customers talk about your business on the phone and in person, and that will be a great foundation for starting to optimize for voice search.

Make Sure You Optimize for Mobile

As mentioned earlier, most voice searches are taking place on a mobile device. But, what is a user going to do if they happen to find you via a voice search on their iPhone, only to find that your site looks like the zombie apocalypse on their screen?

Run. They’re going to run.

If you're site isn't optimized for mobile devices, mobile users are going to run away. This will cost you a lot of voice search traffic.
It’s essential to your success in VSO that your site is mobile-friendly and ready to take on the traffic that you will inevitably receive once you begin to to optimize for voice search.

It’s worth reminding you that the search engines love a responsive, user-friendly site. They also favor speed, so you want to ensure your load time is quick.

The search engines aren’t the only ones you need to please; remember that customers have come to expect fast, mobile-friendly sites. They will expect nothing less from your business.

Without optimizing for mobile, your efforts in VSO will be rendered useless. You want to make sure that users stay on your site once they find it.

As the landscape of our evolving industry continues to metamorphose, we as digital marketers must develop innovative tactics and real-time solutions to keep up with the technological advances.

Always remain one step ahead, my friends, because change is gonna come.


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