Do We Need To Change The Way We Write For Voice Search?

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Voice search is quickly becoming the number one search method, and it’s time for marketers to take note. From mobile devices to home smart speakers, voice search is a blossoming trend with no intention of leaving anytime soon. In fact, experts anticipate that 50% of all online searches will be voice by 2020.

So what does this mean for marketers looking to optimize their content for voice searches? How will voice search change the SEO game? And what can you do to stay ahead of the pack?

1. Know the players.

Before you start to optimize your content, you need to understand how voice search works. There are currently two types of voice searches:  

  1. Mobile (Siri, Google) & desktop

  2. Virtual assistants (Alexa Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, Sonos, etc.)

So a user would say the initial phrase that starts up their virtual assistant, such as “Hey Siri,” “Alexa,” or “Okay Google.” They can then simply ask a question, and their phone or home speaker will play the answer aloud.

But it’s not actually the virtual assistant that responds back. The robot transmits your question into a search engine like Google, so the response you get back is actually from Google itself. This means your content can play through virtual voice assistants if it’s optimized on search  engines.

Although these assistants aren’t foolproof yet, they’re getting smarter and smarter everyday. Artificial intelligence is quickly taking over the digital sphere, and companies are constantly improving their AI. Soon, we anticipate that search engines and voice assistants will be working in tandem to find and create the best responses based on the context of the question.

2. Mimic natural speech.

People speak differently than they type, which is changing the way search is being conducted. When users type their searches, it tends to be shorthand and direct, like “inexpensive purple couches.” But when they ask their search inquiries aloud, people tend to speak in longer, more complete thoughts, like “Where can I find cheap purple couches on sale near me?”

This is revolutionizing the SEO ball game. Optimization used to be all about keyword stuffing (even though search engines stopped the spamming in recent years). You needed the exact keywords and phrases that your customers typed into the search bar.

With voice search, though, short keywords aren’t found as easily. The emphasis is instead on the long-tail keywords that reflect natural speech patterns. The goal of these key phrases is to put your content in a greater context. The more specific your key phrases, the more likely you’ll optimize.

For example, it’s really difficult to optimize for just “real estate” or even “New York real estate.” If you’re not the top result in a voice search, you won’t get found. So you can’t just stuff keywords and hope an assistant will find you. Instead, you might use the key phrase, “multi family homes real estate in upstate New York.” This specificity is more likely to optimize in  the context of a voice search.

3. Focus on the local aspect.

Mobile voice searches are 3x more likely to be about local businesses than text-related searches. Basically, consumers are more likely to ask, “What is the best Italian restaurant near me?” as opposed to, “What year was Rome founded?”

This is good news if you’re a local company. It means that your local business can gain more visibility through voice searches. You just need to focus on optimizing your content for these nearby searches. You’ll want to include the following content on your main page in order to best appear in local voice searches:

  • Where you’re located

  • What your company does

  • Your competitive advantage

  • Your products/services

  • Your key benefits

It’s important to focus on those services or benefits that people are most likely to search when looking for a local business. For example, if you’re a 24-hour plumber, you want to use a lot of keywords like, “open 24 hours” or “emergency plumbing.” Use a lot of synonyms so you don’t miss out on any searches. Voice searches focus more on context than exact keyword, so you want to create a strong context explaining your business offerings. Who are you, what makes you unique, and what benefits do you offer the local community?

4. Keep writing blogs.

But what does this mean for blogs? If the majority of voice searches are for local businesses and products, are blogs out of the search game?

Nope! There are two responses to this question.

First, blogs are still very much in the game—just not as much with voice searches. Blogs will continue to dominate in the typed search world. When people want in-depth information about how to  do something, they’re more likely to type a search. This means you won’t need to drastically change the way you’re writing your blogs in order to optimize for voice search. You can maintain a similar sort of blog writing strategy and still optimize in the changing digital sphere.

Nevertheless, some blogs will still come up in voice search. Most voice searchers are looking for a quick answer to their question. That means the voice assistant will provide the highest quality answer that can be spoken. Thus, the blogs that optimize for voice can’t be too long or detailed.

Thus, if you’re writing a blog intended to show up in voice search, you’ll want to keep it concise and dense. Short-form content (that’s still high value) is likely the best way to go here. You want to write enough that you still establish a level of trust through your content, but you don’t want to include too much that search engines skip over it.  

We should also note that it’s more important than ever to use a variety of content on your site in order to get noticed. The more content you have out there, the more likely you’ll get found.

Long content will show up in typed and short content in voice, so you want a mixture of both.

5. Be mobile friendly.

Nearly 60% of all search queries come from mobile devices. A strong majority of that will move into the voice search realm as well. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re instantly taking yourself out of the running for optimization.

If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re likely losing out on a serious chunk of business. This is especially true if you have a Millennial customer persona, since they do the majority of their searches on the go.

Voice search is here to stay

Voice search isn’t going to completely take over, but it is definitely changing the way search engines are finding content and businesses. To increase your business’ visibility, you need to understand how voice search is going to impact you and your content marketing strategy.

Voice search is nothing to fear for content creators. It’s fun and exciting, and it will be more about context than keywords. Plus, it means that users are still searching for content, often at even higher rates than they were with just text alone. This seamless relationship between content, search engine, and consumer is going to make content creation more effective than ever.

It’s time to get onboard the content train and chug off into the future of search engines. Contact Palm Beach Content Co. for a free consultation to start creating the ideal marketing strategy for your business.

Allison Hess