January 15, 2019 01:14 PM
If you want to optimize your website for voice search, start small and observe how the world around you is using this feature to consume products. (Photo: panuwat phimpha/Shutterstock)
by Meg C. Hall
“Hey, Siri.” “Ok, Google.” “Alexa.” “Hey, Cortana.” If you’re hearing these words and phrases more often, don’t worry, you’re not going crazy.
All major technology providers, not just Google, are investing in virtual assistants — and by extension, voice search. Google Home, Siri, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung Bixby are becoming digital doorways to content, and consumers are buying in.
Today, one in six Americans (16 percent) owns a voice-activated smart speaker — up 128 percent since Jan. 2017, according to a new report from NPR and Edison Research. Additionally, Google said voice search accounts for 20 percent of all searches done from their mobile app.
Voice-enabled digital assistants are playing an increasingly larger part in consumers’ everyday lives, so how do you leverage this tech to help people find your small business? To learn more, NCR Silver sat down for a Q&A with search engine optimization (SEO) expert Jay Egger of Fit Small Business.
“The trend in the marketing world over the past few years is to have long, detailed articles, and I see a shift towards websites needing to provide concise answers to questions.” -Jay Egger (Photo: Jay Egger)
Voice searching is exactly what it sounds like — searching for content on a variety of search engines by using voice commands on your device instead of typing them out. Small business owners should be aware that the capabilities of voice searching are growing more every day and should attempt to get a head start before it becomes as common as needing a website.
The big difference between voice search and normal search is that with voice you will need to deliver clear answers to questions in a timely matter. The trend in the marketing world over the past few years is to have long, detailed articles, and I see a shift towards websites needing to provide concise answers to questions. That’s not to say longform content will be dead, it just likely will no longer be the first source any longer.
Since search is moving more towards voice, it only makes sense to adapt. If you’re an iPhone repair shop, you should expect that there will be users using voice search for inquiries like, “iPhone repair near me” or “Where can I fix my iPhone?” If you are optimizing for voice search, you may be gaining some new customers if your shop is the top answer to the question.
Although Google is currently not revealing keyword data for voice searching, you can still use general keyword research to have an idea of what people are searching for, although you should think more about long-tail keywords (e.g. targeting “what kind of tea is best for stomach aches” as opposed to simply “healthy tea”).
You can also use tools like Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner to get the number of times monthly that people are searching for particular keywords, but don’t forget that these keywords are for typed search, so you may need to get creative when adapting [for voice search].
The People Also Ask (PAA) boxes are a set of questions — with answers — that Google deems as being relevant to whatever you searched for.
As an example, if you search for “What coffee has the most caffeine,” you’ll see in the PAA box other questions like, “What coffee has the most caffeine light or dark?” If you’re creating content that answers a question, it’s worth searching the question in Google to see if a PAA box shows up; your article will find more success if you can also answer these questions.
Google’s featured snippets were made with voice search in mind. The answer that shows up as a snippet — the little box at the top of the search results that attempts to give you exactly what you searched for — will typically be the voice search reply. That means that optimizing for snippets will only help you with voice search.
Remember, voice search is optimizing for how humans actually communicate. If you can understand the intent of people looking for your content, you’ll be well on your way to success on voice search. Experiment adjust as you go.