It’s time to talk the language of voice search

We’re starting to see natural, conversational language replacing keyboards

The rise and rise of Voice continues at pace. It’s estimated that Amazon Echo could be in 40% of UK homes by 2018.* Google data tells us that 20% of all queries are voice searches and that this number is growing. Throw in the recent launches of the Google Home and the Echo Show, and it’s fair to say that formulating an SEO strategy for voice search is something that all brands should be thinking about and working to implement.  

But how do you walk the walk as well as talk the talk of voice search? Here are the key areas that we would recommend all brands take into consideration with regards to their voice SEO strategy.  

Speak as you’re likely to be spoken to

The most effective SEO content strategies closely relate to the way in which your potential customers search for information about your product, particularly with regards to the words that they use in their search queries. Therefore, a change to the tone of the query necessitates a change to your content and page optimisation strategy.  

As confidence increases in the capability of voice-first devices, consumers will become increasingly conversational in the language that they use to search for information, and we’ll start to see natural language replace keywords. For example, a keyword-based typed query might be ‘M&S opening times’ whereas the natural language-based voice query is more likely to be ‘When is M&S open?

This change will require us to rethink content and page optimisation strategy. The tone in which content is written should be considered carefully to ensure visibility in the rankings is maximised for voice queries. If you’re unsure as to how a voice search may differ from a text search for your brand, consider using existing voice-based touchpoints for guidance, such as high street outlets, customer calls into call centres, focus group research etc.

Think globally, act locally

As stated by a recent report**, 22% of voice searches are looking for local information, and according to Google***, 50% of users that make a local search on a mobile device will visit a store within 24 hours. So, getting your local SEO strategy into optimal shape is essential. You should start by ensuring that your Google My Business account is completely up to date – denying yourself the opportunity to provide this information to Google (and in turn, for Google to provide this information to consumers) is nothing short of criminal, so make sure that this is taken care of.
 
Additionally, following the other best practices for local SEO such as optimising NAP (name, address, phone number), local outreach, citations and local reviews will increase visibility in the local listings returned by search engines, which is where voice-first devices will most likely look for information when answering users’ voice queries related to their locality.

Quick Fire Round

Wherever possible, search engines strive to provide users with quick and accurate answers to their questions. For voice search, Google often access their Knowledge Graph results first when searching for the answer to a given question. As such, revisiting how you provide answers to the key questions that consumers are likely to ask about your products is a very worthwhile exercise.  

It may no longer be sufficient to house all such questions together within a ‘FAQ’ section on one page. Creating separate pages for the most important questions (alongside adding new questions that feature natural language) and ensuring that they feature succinct and well-crafted answers could significantly improve your chances of securing that all important top position in the rankings.
  
Get full marks for markup

Data markup is a language format that helps search engines better understand content, whilst schemas (available at schema.org) is the vocabulary developed by Google, Microsoft et al that should be used for data markup. 

Implementing an optimal structured data markup strategy to your site can help SEO visibility for both voice and text queries. Applying the correct schemas to your content enables search engines to better understand how it should be categorised and, therefore, how it should be indexed. Anything that helps in this regard will increase the likelihood of a site being featured in a response delivered by a voice-first device.

Implementing the above strategies will put your brand well on the way to talking the language of voice search. As with any emerging frontier, those who act first and take advantage are more likely to win over the long term, so including these approaches within your SEO strategy now could reap rewards in the future.
  
Sources
Amazon Echo set to hit 40% of UK homes by next year
** Internet Trends Report 2017
*** Understanding Consumers' Local Search Behavior


Post by

Dan Watt