The advent of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing has large­ly changed our per­cep­tion of tra­di­tion­al adver­tis­ing. Over the last few years, mar­keters have shift­ed their focus towards build­ing a stronger online pres­ence. How­ev­er, with the rapid change in exist­ing tech­nol­o­gy, it is not enough to rein­force a pos­i­tive online rep­u­ta­tion. Mar­keters also need to adapt their tac­tics as and when tech­nol­o­gy advances.

Take search engine opti­miza­tion (SEO) for instance. You can’t have a fixed set of strate­gies for SEO because search engines keep chang­ing their algo­rithms. In 2013, Google intro­duced the Hum­ming­bird update, which empha­sized user intent and the con­tex­tu­al mean­ing of search queries. Overnight, mar­keters had to switch from overus­ing key­words to cre­at­ing mean­ing­ful con­tent that address­es the audience’s pain points.

Then came voice search and vir­tu­al assis­tants such as Siri, Cor­tana, Google Assis­tant, and Alexa. The grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of voice search can be attrib­uted to the fact that it is more con­ve­nient for users. Its use is not restrict­ed to tech-savvy mil­len­ni­als only.

Why Is Voice Search Important For Marketers?

In his keynote in May 2016, CEO of Google, Sun­dar Pichai, announced that 20% of queries on Google were voice search­es. With 33 mil­lion devices fea­tur­ing vir­tu­al assis­tants already in cir­cu­la­tion, this num­ber is expect­ed to rise fur­ther. These fig­ures clear­ly indi­cate that voice search is quick­ly becom­ing a favorite amongst con­sumers.

As a mar­keter, your task is to tap into its poten­tial. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to opti­mize your web­site for voice search­es in 2019.

1. Create Content for Longer Search Queries

The main fea­ture that dis­tin­guish­es voice search from tra­di­tion­al web search is the man­ner in which users frame their queries. While typ­ing on a device, peo­ple tend to use short phras­es using spe­cif­ic key­words. On the oth­er hand, voice search queries are more con­ver­sa­tion­al in nature. They are also longer than typed queries because the user is essen­tial­ly talk­ing to the vir­tu­al assis­tant.

For instance, if you were to look for a bak­ery in Brook­lyn, you’d type some­thing like “top bak­eries in Brook­lyn.” How­ev­er, when using voice search, you would phrase your query like this: “Which is the best bak­ery in Brook­lyn?”

In addi­tion to being longer, voice search queries con­tain ques­tion phras­es. Mar­keters need to iden­ti­fy such voice queries and opti­mize their con­tent accord­ing­ly.

Seek­ing Local Infor­ma­tion

Since smart­phones are used on the go, it is more like­ly that peo­ple use voice search to find local infor­ma­tion. Let’s say you are dri­ving on a high­way and feel hun­gry all of a sud­den. You could use a voice com­mand such as “fast food joints near me.” For mar­keters, it is impor­tant to opti­mize their web­site for such local­ized queries.

2. Create a Mobile-Friendly Design

Most voice search queries are gen­er­at­ed from devices such as smart­phones and tablets. There­fore, it is imper­a­tive that your web­site should be com­pat­i­ble with and respon­sive to these devices. This involves improv­ing page speed, opti­miz­ing the design of your web­site, and many oth­er things.

When using a desk­top, peo­ple tend to read the con­tent in an F‑shaped pat­tern. How­ev­er, their read­ing habits on mobile phones are dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent. Accord­ing to a study con­duct­ed by Nielsen Nor­man Group, smart­phone users pre­fer crisp and sim­ple con­tent, with the main focus on the essen­tial con­tent. At times, they scan through the con­tent, rec­og­niz­ing only the head­ings.

To improve scannabil­i­ty, your web pages should incor­po­rate a lot of white space, short­er sen­tences, sim­pler words, and eye-catch­ing head­ings. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friend­ly Test Tool to assess where your web­site stands. The tool gen­er­ates a detailed report out­lin­ing spe­cif­ic details that need to be improved.

It is also advis­able to share busi­ness infor­ma­tion such as address and phone num­ber in text for­mat in the web­site foot­er. Include a map show­ing the exact loca­tion of your busi­ness as well. This is extreme­ly use­ful to har­ness local­ized search queries.

Page Speed

Hav­ing a respon­sive web design is of no use unless your web­site loads fast on dif­fer­ent devices. In fact, for two sim­i­lar web­sites, Google places the faster one high­er in their search results. Faster page speed is also impor­tant to pre­vent the user’s atten­tion from drift­ing. Accord­ing to a study, the aver­age voice search result page loads in 4.6 sec­onds.

3. Create a Google My Business Listing

A lot of voice search queries seek local infor­ma­tion such as “salons near me” or “near­by gourmet restau­rants.” In order to ensure that your web­site is fea­tured in such search results, cre­ate a Google My Busi­ness page.

Make sure you pro­vide accu­rate details such as name, address and phone num­ber (with area code) of your busi­ness. This way, when­ev­er a “near me” query pops up, Google might turn towards your list­ing to check if it fits the bill.

You should also pro­vide a prop­er intro­duc­tion to your busi­ness, describ­ing the product/service in slight detail. Use sim­ple words and short sen­tences to make it easy to read. In addi­tion, choose rel­e­vant cat­e­gories that per­fect­ly describe your busi­ness. Select­ing the right cat­e­go­ry can make a lot of dif­fer­ence to your voice search rank­ing.

4. Create Great Content

Any­one even slight­ly famil­iar with the con­cept of SEO knows how impor­tant con­tent is to improve search engine rank­ings. The same is true for voice search opti­miza­tion as well.

How­ev­er, the same old tech­nique of select­ing the right key­words and using them in your con­tent won’t yield the best results. Instead, you should first study the behav­ior of your tar­get audi­ence and iden­ti­fy the kind of search queries they are using.

Once you have iden­ti­fied the ques­tions and phras­es your tar­get audi­ence uses, cre­ate con­tent on your web­site address­ing these points. The best way to do this is to cre­ate an engag­ing FAQs page on your web­site.

Take a look at the FAQs page of McDonald’s Cana­da. Instead of hav­ing a bor­ing Q&A for­mat, they have a form where you can post your query. All ques­tions asked by the vis­i­tors, along with rel­e­vant answers, are also post­ed on the page.

You can also mod­i­fy your exist­ing web­site con­tent, such as prod­uct descrip­tions, to answers ques­tions that peo­ple are like­ly to ask. Cre­ate a blog and upload arti­cles that might be rel­e­vant to your tar­get audi­ence.

Try to strike a bal­ance between post­ing long-form and short-form con­tent. While long-form con­tent gets pri­or­i­ty from search engines, con­cise and easy to read con­tent is use­ful for your audi­ence.

Social Media and Viral Con­tent

Your voice search opti­miza­tion efforts should not be restrict­ed to the con­tent on your web­site. Cre­ate valu­able and engag­ing con­tent in the form of images, blog posts, videos etc. for your social media pages.

Make sure you include the link to your web­site in all these posts. If your con­tent finds trac­tion and becomes viral, it can gen­er­ate back­links to your web­site, improv­ing your search engine rank­ing.

Final Thoughts

The grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of voice search and vir­tu­al assis­tants is chang­ing the way con­sumers scout for infor­ma­tion on the web. Mar­keters and busi­ness own­ers must har­ness the immense poten­tial of this emerg­ing tool.

Opti­miz­ing your web­site for voice search is not the same as tra­di­tion­al SEO. It requires a deep­er under­stand­ing of user behav­ior and the gen­er­a­tion of mean­ing­ful con­tent.

Do you have any oth­er tips for voice search opti­miza­tion? Don’t for­get to share them in the com­ments sec­tion.