Predictions suggest voice search will change the marketing strategy forever. Even now many searches happen by voice. But digital marketers are still at a loss: “So if you read your search query and then hear your answers, where will the clicks be coming from?”
This point is very valid: Voice search makes buying process more fragmented: Customers talk their query to a device, hear the answer and get the top (or chosen) result link on their device or further interaction. But that interaction may never come… Or it may happen later in the day, or even a week.
Voice searching often happens on the go or in the middle of the task. It becomes a norm to ask for the best way to season a turkey while in the middle of cooking. Your searching device is right there next to you, ready to help.
With searching and subsequent on-page interaction getting so fragmented, how can you optimize your site for this behavior? Is this the end of marketing as we know it?
Voice Search Optimization Tips
1. Focus on User Engagement
Whether your customer uses voice or not, search results are still being ranked the same way. This means basic SEO is still there to stay: You need to be in top #5 to be found. Nothing changes there.
What is different is how quickly customers move on. Since voice searching tends to happen on the go, getting a user to pause and engage with your site is becoming even more difficult.
Voice search is going to get people onto your site. Your efforts are going to keep them there.
Voice search optimization for search intent is the fundamental step to keeping your voice search referrals. Basically, what it means is that you need to give them exactly what they were searching for. This will prompt them to remain on your page and maybe even interact (tap other links, check out your special offers, etc.)
Text Optimizer is the tool designed to help you optimize for search intent. It analyzes Google search result pages, extracts related concepts and helps you include those in your content to better meet those searchers’ needs:
[Optimize your on-page copy to meet Google’s and customers’ expectations better]
2. Keep a Closer Eye on Your Local Listings
Local searches are a big part of voice search. People want convenient, in-the-moment results while they are on the go. So if you have a local business or operate within a specific community, make that the focus of your SEO.
According to SEW, mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be based on location, rather than generic topic. This makes local presence even more important than it was in the past.
Make sure to keep your local listing active and updated. Respond to reviews promptly, upload images and create Google local posts. The more complete your local listing is, the higher you will show on local results based on Google’s dedication to offering the best first.
Bright Local is a great tool to keep an on your local rankings and get alerted on anything that needs your attention. It also creates higher-level reports allowing to keep an eye on your progress:
[Monitor your local rankings and reviews using Bright Local]
3. Focus on Featured Snippets for Voice Search Optimization
A featured snippet is a selected search result that appears on top of organic search results. Both Google and Bing are now showing featured snippets in an effort to give their users the best possible answer in the fastest possible way.
In many ways featured snippets are search engines’ effort to get ready for the screenless search, where people don’t interact with the screen directly to perform a search. Instead, they talk to a device and expect to hear an answer.
To give them those instant answers, search engines implemented featured snippets which are being read by a mobile phone or a smart assistant in response to a voice search query.
Consequently you want your content to give those quick answer too. Clear concise answers for a multitude of possible questions. Likewise your product pages should also give answers (think Amazon Q&A) and your landing pages should feature some sort of a FAQ section too.
Re-build your content strategy in the question-and- answer format.
4. When it Comes to Voice Search Optimization, Think Speed, Think Mobile First
Several years ago it was estimated that a user will wait maximum 5 seconds for a page to load before giving up on it. Nowadays when people are getting used to faster Internet connection and when they can browse the web while on the go, this number is likely to be much lower.
In fact, Google says that their own load time is under half a second and the threshold for ecommerce website acceptability is 2 seconds.
When we deal with mobile and voice searchers, website speed is becoming an even more important issue because it is so easy to find a page and as easy to swipe back to search results. Mobile and voice searches tend to be in a hurry (asking for directions, being already deep into a task, etc.)
You need to serve them fast.
Monitor your site speed through Google Analytics on a regular basis, and use SEO crawlers at least quarterly to identify what slows your site down. I use Netpeak Spider that checks response time, content download time, image sizes, etc. for every single page of your site:
5. Follow Google’s Projects
Finally, if there’s a screenless searching, there’s a screenless buying!
Maybe voice search is stealing your clicks. But maybe you also don’t need clicks to sell your products online.
Google has been working hard to help retailers adjust to the new searching behavior. Some of their products are still in beta, others are limited to the United States but they are all there, and already being implemented by your competitors.
Google has developed the whole set of structured markup to help your pages better interact with voice search users. You can also implement Google Speakable to let your search results “speak back” to the user, another form of voice search optimization.
Finally, there’s Google Shopping Actions platform allowing retailers to show their products across various Google channels including Google Assistant (US-only).
Whether voice search is going to become the major searching behavior remains unknown. There’s also visual search picking up. And typing search queries and reading the answers the old school way is likely not going away completely too.
But it’s not really a question of whether voice search is going to dominate the market or not. It’s already here and you already may be losing customers to your competitors whose sites are served through voice search because they are better prepared.
On the other hand, keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest marketing trends gives you competitive advantage and allows you to quickly gain visibility before your competitors realize the gap. I hope the above steps will help you make your site search-voice-friendlier!