Search engine optimization is an ever-evolving technique that companies must master to sustain in the competitive world. Irrespective of what type of business you run, your customers will interact with your brand on the internet before experiencing it first-hand. This makes it extremely essential for brands to ensure that sufficient quality information is easily found on the internet. You may have spent years trying to get your SEO right, appear on the first page of SERPs, and reach your goal. However, what if someone were to change the goalpost? In this article, I’ve described key tactics to get “Position Zero” on SERP on Google Voice Search and Amazon Alexa Voice Search.
How is voice search changing SEO?
The emergence of voice search is precisely doing the same thing that smartphones did to fixed phones and even desktops. The tech giants are pouring in huge money to develop and promote digital assistants. While Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri are at the forefront, other competitors such as Google, Microsoft, Samsung, etc. are not far behind. While the virtual assistants have been around for a few years, the era of full-scale mass adoption is now within striking distance.
A recent survey by Stone Temple on the mobile voice usage pattern of 2018 revealed some interesting insights. It showed that growing number of people were comfortable in using voice research in the external environment. This is an apparent contradiction in the belief that people use voice search more when they are home. Over 60% of responders said that they liked voice search because it was fast and required no typing, while 66% believed that voice command made using smartphone easier. In another survey, voice search was among the top three methods of searching for information.
Why is voice search important?
Over 33 million voice search devices are in circulation today, and Google receives one-fifth of queries using voice search. All the indicators hint at an exponential rise in voice search in the coming years. The surge of voice assistants will have a far-reaching effect on brands including the traffic they receive from organic search. Let us look at the changes that will fall upon brands due to the rise in the voice searches.
Queries would be conversational
When users search using voice command, the questions are more detailed. We use short queries while typing manually, but it is different from the voice search. Queries will be more detailed such as ‘Where to eat Pizza now?’ or ‘Who won the Lakers game yesterday?’ Brands need to realize that question phrases would garner more relevance.
The solution that companies could employ is to start thinking about how do your audience thinks and talks about your business or product. The questions will also give you more insights into the mind of your customer. If they are asking ‘Where’ questions, it could mean that they are ready to buy. On the other hand, if they are asking ‘What’ or ‘How’ question, it means they are searching for a product or service.
You can use a range of online tools to generate content and understand various perspectives on different keywords. You can use Answer the public or Question Samurai to find questions on a particular keyword. If you search for the word ‘Pizza’ that we used in the earlier example, Answer the Public will give your several questions that start with What, Which, Where, How, Why, Can, When, Who, Will, and Are. It also gives a whole lot of other information on the keyword entered which can be quite resourceful. You can use this site to build a database of questions pertaining to your business keywords.
Queries Would Be Local
As we saw earlier, research shows that people do not hesitate in using voice search in the outdoor environment. So it should hardly come as a surprise that over 22% people use voice search for local search and ‘near me’ searches have increased by 130% YoY. Users searching for localized information are more likely to act on it. So if a user is searching ‘Where can I buy an iPhone near me?’ The customer is more likely to step out soon to make a purchase.
The first thing companies need to do is perfect their local SEO. You should update your Google my Business page with up to date address, business hours, landmark, and contact details. Your brand needs to get the keywords right when it comes to localized search. Use the exact phrase that might be used to describe the location of your business. Add ‘Near me’ in title tags, Meta tags, anchor text, and internal links. The goal is to provide all the information in a localized form as possible both to your user and Google.
Queries that require quick results
Voice searches are generally carried out when users need immediate results. No one will conduct a voice search for ‘Restaurants near me’ if he or she wishes to eat out later in the week. The intent to make a purchase is clear, and it is up to you to expedite the process. Adding a call button, ratings, availability, etc. can make your company directly accessible.
What should brands do to optimize for Voice Search?
Featured Snippets is the Answer!
The voice-enabled assistants read out the featured snippets while answering any questions. This featured snippet which is also known as answer box becomes “position zero” on SERP. The answer box is pulled out by Google from the organic results on the first page. Gaining the coveted ‘position zero’ gives your brand a lot of visibility and credibility. It also brings in a lot of authority for your brand since Google is relying on your information to solve a searchers query. There is no sure shot method to land your results in the featured snippets. However, by understanding the Snippets and optimizing your content for it can increase your chances of landing on the featured results.
The following are the broad category of rich snippets:
- Paragraph Snippets: The most commonly seen featured snippets are the paragraph snippets. Google pulls the information from your site and shows it to answer the search query. To ensure that you utilize this opportunity, it is recommended to answer the query in the first paragraph of your content, and then add more information to encourage the reader to click on the site. Use FAQ page to answer as many questions as you can.
- Numbered List Snippets: List snippets are seen when the query is about how to do something. The answer is given in a step by step process in the snippets. A clear and concise content will ensure that the reader clicks further to check the photos and videos.
- Table Snippets: The table snippets appear with information such as prices, lists, rate, data, etc. Google may reorganize the information to suit the searchers’ query. While table snippets are not the best bet in voice search, having some in-depth data might help in over SEO strategy.
Brands need to optimize the content on the site for voice searches. The content for voice search may have some differences than the general content, but focusing your efforts on tactfully answering the queries will benefit in both voice and screen-based searches.
So what are some of the Voice Search Strategies that you can employ?
Long tail keywords
The arrival of voice search will change the use of keywords forever. Long tail keywords are considered as counterproductive due to the lower number of users it attracts. However, with voice searches gaining more dominance, it is essential for your company to emphasize more on the long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are targeted phrases comprising three or more words targeted at a niche audience.
The general SEO strategies use broader keywords as users search a single term and expect Google to pull relevant results. However, the problem is that is not how we humans talk. We talk in more specific manner and with framed sentences. Let us see how we can use long tail keywords to benefits from the voice searches. It is important to remember that users talk to the voice assistants as they would speak with a colleague or friend.
The primary or head keywords are used when a search is executed by typing, while long-tail keywords are used when searching using voice search. For e.g.: If you are a company selling e-cars, your potential customer would use e-cars or e-car in the US while typing on the screen. But, while using voice assistants, the query would be e-cars near me or which is the best e-car in the US, etc. To understand this aspect, brands need to understand their customer and then device content strategy to personalize the content as per the search intent.
Building a comprehensive database of long tail keywords is a long process which requires focused efforts. You can start by using SEO tools to start getting long tail keyword idea. SEMrush is a reliable and renowned tool used by marketing and SEO experts to generate ideas and check the feasibility of keywords. Another similar tool is The Word Tracker which is also quite resourceful. The tool Answer The Public mentioned earlier is as efficient as other in generating long tail keyword ideas.
It is crucial to remember that long tail keywords may not give you too many leads; however, the lead quality and the conversion rate would be always higher. Since there is less competition in long tail keywords, the chances of ranking higher on SERP are better. If your company is running paid ads, the cost per click for a long tail keyword is also lower.
Latent Semantic Indexing
Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI is a grey area for SEO with some experts justifying its use, while the others terming it as an outdated strategy. Since we are talking from the point of view of voice searches, it is essential to discuss the impact of LSI in voice search. LSI keywords are supplementary to the original content and improve the context of the content. For e.g.: If you write about Apple, how Google knows whether you are talking about Apple, the fruit or Apple computer.
Google will use other correlation from your content and look for words such as flavour, health, fresh, etc. which describe Apple fruit. Similarly, LSI keywords such as specification, operating system, RAM, etc. will indicate that the content is about Apple computer. Using LSI phrases leads to Google giving more priority to your content resulting in better SERPs. LSI keywords are extremely essential to improve search engine traffic and the ranking of your website.
It is essential to do a thorough keyword analysis around your primary keywords and deduce LSI keywords relevant to the context of the content. LSI graph is a free tool that will give you a range of LSI keywords helping you build a database. You can even find supporting keywords for the LSI keywords. A similar tool that provides even more in-depth analysis is the Niche Laboratory. You can get keyword suggestion, phrases, related niches, and even influencers.