Did you know that 20% of queries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices are voice searches? Google CEO Sundar Pichai made that announcement in his keynote address at the May 2017 Google I/O conference.
With personal assistant apps like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana voice search optimization for marketers takes center stage because it is a lot easier for smartphone users to perform and get accurate answers to their queries. According to Mary Meeker, voice and image searches will likely to account for at least half of all searches by 2020. Businesses will need to shift their search strategy to accommodate this seismic shift in the way consumers will search, engage and purchase their products and services.
Conversation and intent
One of the biggest opportunities with voice search is the ability to understand intent of the search query. Voice search allows us to explicitly understand intent and the nuances that are critical to successfully building a marketing strategy.
Google reports that 70 percent of the Google Assistant queries come in the form of natural language. Voice search queries are longer than text-based search and typically focus around questions involving who, what, where, when, why and how. Searchers speak to their digital devices in the same way that they would ask a question of another person. This is very different from the way they interact with a text search box.
Schema, Schema, Schema
Gary Illyes is a webmaster trends analyst at Google. He replaces Matt Cutts who previously held a similar position with the search giant. Gary frequently contributes to the Webmaster Central Blog and helps users debug their websites in the Google Webmaster Forums. He was recently asked about optimizing for AI and voice search. Here is his quote:
“Use structured data markup to give these voice search devices even more information about your site and content. Structured data markup from schema.org is crucial for your site, as it defines more specific information and makes it easier for search engines to accurately parse your content and understand its context.”
Need I say more about the importance of structured markup on your site?
Claim your Google My Business listing
Since many voice searches are local in nature, having your Google My Business listing claimed and up-to-date can help increase your chances of showing up when a voice search is done pertaining to your local business, location or business category.
If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing yet, it’s time! Claiming and optimizing Google My Business is a great way for Google to find out more information about your business, like the category of business you’re in, your address, phone number, business hours and more.
Keyword and Phrase Clusters
Keywords research for voice search optimization requires a new strategy. Keywords are no longer just keywords. Keywords for voice search will be long tail terms in conversational tone and phrase. Consider the difference between how you type a search term as opposed to how you would phrase a spoken query.
Your keyword strategy must now be much more natural language and conversational and match how searchers speak and phrase questions verbally. Start thinking about the types of questions you get when customers call you on the phone to ask questions about your business, then document the product or service specific words they use to ask questions and describe your products or services.
Once you have a list of questions and statements your customers give you over the phone, you can then start creating content pages that focus on those longer, more conversational search terms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages
A great way to use the customer research data is to create FAQ pages that focus on the natural language long tail conversational keywords and phrases. Try to organize the FAQ into common themes. Focus on natural-sounding questions and phrases instead of trophy keyword phrases you would otherwise have chosen. You may need to create several different pages so that the voice search technologies have a better chance of pulling information from your site.
Also, anticipate more direct questions from searchers. Searches like “best floor tile” will start to disappear, and hyper-specific searches will become more popular. For example: “Alexa, where can I find travertine tile that has lots of choices?” Offer quick, succinct answers to questions that voice searchers are asking.
It can seem like a daunting task, but creating these individual pages and snippets of content centered around specific semantic questions that people are asking can not only help your site show up in voice search results, it can also increase your chances of appearing in a Google “Featured Snippet.”
Marketers understand that mobile should come before desktop. And since most voice searches are done using smartphones, this means that you need to make sure your content is optimized for mobile devices to appear higher on voice search rankings. As voice search becomes more prevalent, using conversational, long-tail keywords will be necessary for SEO. This is a tipping point for businesses that rely on organic internet traffic. Those who stay ahead of this curve will be in a better position as the technology evolves.