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Do you know if you are voice-search optimized?

Stephen Jayne ▪︎ August 7, 2019

The way we talk—our tone, language inference, culture, age, environment—all play a significant role in our voices being heard or perceived by others. Voice search is a technology that allows a user to perform a search simply by speaking. Sometimes known as voice-enabled search, this technology is rapidly being adopted by new smartphones, smart speakers, and other web-integrated devices.

Voice search grows exponentially on a yearly basis and is quickly becoming popular with all age groups, especially the younger generation. The areas voice search serves at present are not limited to basic tasks like questions and answers, navigations, playlist management or placing a phone call, but activities like email management, calendar management, shopping, and many others are being supported as well, with many more added daily. Voice search is not only a thing of the future, but of the present, and research has proven that it is becoming a part of everyday life.

Most of us remember when Siri first came out in 2011. The technology was a novelty, a neat tool to test out, with sometimes informative and other times laughable responses to voice queries. Not many people predicted it would become a significant digital trend in the future. But voice search has evolved a whole lot since then. Now there are a plethora of voice-activated technologies on the market, like Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

People use voice search on their mobile or smart devices every day, and more than 420 million voice assistants have been sold worldwide. People now use voice assistants far more than when they were introduced, mostly for commands (e.g., set the alarm, call Mom). But there continues to be tremendous potential for growth for search marketing as well. That’s mostly because the AI technology behind voice search has become incredibly more accurate. In 2017, Google hit human parity in speech recognition accuracy (95% accuracy)⁠—a 20% increase since 2013.

Over the years, smart speakers have also become increasingly popular in the U.S. These wireless speakers are impressive examples of how AI is becoming integrated into our lives. They respond to voice commands and are capable of a myriad of functions, from conducting internet searches, to something as simple as playing a song. They can also check the weather report, to create to-do lists, control a variety of home devices,and so much more. Recent studies have shown that over 39 million people in the U.S. now own at least one of these devices.

As users continue to become more comfortable interacting with voice-based devices and assistants, they’ll be conducting more of their searches for products and businesses this way as well. With this in mind, here are some tips to ensure that you’re voice-search optimized and ready for this voice-based future.

Make sure you have a strong business listing strategy and accurate content.

To have a strong business listing strategy, you must ensure consistency and availability of your business’s listing information on numerous websites, especially if you want to have a measurable ranking. Try as much as possible to keep an eye on your contact information and business name; verify your contact details, and make sure they are up to date and accurate. Delete any duplicate pages, and make your listing attractive and informative for your customers with content describing your business, like photos, videos, and your website URL. Make sure your business is listed in the appropriate category with relevant keywords. Also, list your business as per its location. If your business is in multiple locations, then create location-specific pages.

First and foremost, having a short and memorable domain name is vital. A domain name which gives a descriptive detail about your business will provide your customers with the exact idea about your services or products. Having accurate content and a descriptive domain is very important for you to maintain your business website and gain you the desired success.

Have a heavily mobile-optimized experience.

We live in a world where people are far more engaged with their smartphones than with any other gadgets. People love to browse the web for brands that they’re interested in and products they want to buy. This is why having a mobile-optimized website will help you reach and attain more customers.

Mobile optimization is the process of adjusting your website’s content to ensure that your customers have the best experience possible when visiting your website on whatever device they choose. Brands build trust by giving customers an experience that matches their expectations. A mobile-friendly website helps engage more first-time customers, and retain those who are returning.

SEO content optimized for voice skills.

For SEO, start thinking about best practices and techniques for optimizing content for voice search and virtual assistants. In order to achieve success,start by identifying common questions in your market sector. Then, determine which of those are most attractive to your business, and for each “target question” you select, develop a set of closely-related questions that users are also likely to be interested in. Finally, write content that addresses the target and related matters in a single, cohesive article.

Consider having Google actions and Alexa skills.

Amazon’s Alexa assistant provides a plethora of built-in capabilities, called “skills.” Skills are analogous to apps for mobile devices in the voice assistant world. Developers can create skills that users can access just by asking questions. They have a diverse range of functions—answering trivia, playing games, controlling lights and music. When a user or customer gives a voice request, speech recognition connects the request with the most relevant skills and activates it.

There are a variety of Alexa skills, some developed by big companies, some designed by individuals. The primary equivalent of Alexa Skills is Google Assistant Actions. There is an open developers’ guide on how to create these and even some easy templates to make games and competitions. The process of creating a Google Assistant Skill also requires some coding skills and can be easily outsourced.

Have a paid media strategy and content that is question-friendly.

Paid media is one of the quickest ways to drive traffic. It’s a great way to open doors, even if just a crack, that would otherwise stay closed. For some users, a promoted tweet or post will be their first exposure to your business or brand. Whether yours is a new business or already well established, the opportunity to spread your brand as widely as possible should be a top goal. Your content, even if paid for, will still potentially get clicks and perhaps even followers, leading to better engagement in the future. When building your content strategy for voice search optimization, map out questions into the various points that would suit your customers’ journey, which in turn ensures you’re available through voice search at any stage of the customers’ needs.

Answer questions in your content.

How well does your online content answer the questions that your audience is asking? Your ability to helpfully answer critical questions not only assists your audience, but also helps your SEO because search engines view sites that give satisfying answers as more “valuable.” The best way to get featured in the immediate response or related solutions is to answer and optimize niche questions. By answering questions you get an opportunity to rank for more phrases, generate more exposure from search results using aforementioned special search features, build confidence, and become a linkable and valuable resource.

Use Structured Data.

Making use of structured data, which is also known as schema markup, for your site can give you a significant SEO boost and increase your rankings. Google’s structured Data Markup Helper is one of the most useful free tools to aid your business get started with structured data. This markup tool will help enhance Google’s understanding of the content on your website. This content is then used not only for your search engine and voice search results, but may also be incorporated into Knowledge Graph panels or Google Now cards, increasing your business’s online reach. Implanting structured data directly into your website ensures these details are available to everyone. Structured information is the future of search engine marketing. Gone are those days when magical keyword counts or backlinks guaranteed search engine rank success.

So remember voice and user experience is the future, let’s stop thinking we are dealing with machines when we are creating content and start visualizing a person right in front of you. The more human and seamless experience, the better off you will be!

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