23% of people in Britain (66.44 million people) have a smart device in their home, according to YouGov’s 2018 survey and I’m guessing that with the rate things have gone in the last 3 years that number is now woefully incorrect. But it still helps my point.
A ton of people have smart devices.
Even more have phones with smart features like Siri, Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby and Windows Cortana.
Many marketers spend a long time on SEO to make sure that their website(s) appear high up on search engine results pages (SERP’s), but I’ve found that very little is said about voice search optimisation.
Rich text snippets are designed to make it easier and most importantly quicker for people to get information on search engines and they are how we can get our websites to perform best for voice searches.
We can use product schema to have reviews built into search results.
We can use FAQ schema to get a range of Questions and Answers visible directly from the search results. These also help with voice search if people ask questions available within your schema.
Mobile users are 3x more likely to use voice search.
31% of smartphone users worldwide use voice search at least once a week.
55% of teens are using voice search daily.
So why aren’t we spending as much time optimising websites for voice search as we do for SERP and why aren’t we taking the time to position our content differently to take advantage of voice search.
Google and other search engines recognise that people use featured snippets and voice searches to get quick and easy answers and will therefore reward websites that provide this information.
Searches are no longer like ‘cake recipe’
They may be part of voice search requests like “hey Siri, how can I make a cake at home”
You need to take a look at your current keywords and look to include long-tail, conversational keywords that people are likely to ask with voice.
If you provide local services you need to work on local listings and make sure you’ve implemented localBusiness schema on your website.
Searches for ‘near me’ are getting more and more frequent and with services like google maps integrating with google assistant people are using voice to search for places near them. Searching for brick-and-mortar stores is the number 1 use case for smart assistants so if you have localbusiness schema set up on your site you are there for anyone asking.
Question keywords. Voice search queries will contain a lot of question words like how, what, when, why, where.
Long-tail keywords people aren’t as blunt over voice search as they may be on SERP because it is quicker to do longer search queries over voice than it is to type it out.
It’s also worth including filler words like “I, the, of the, on the, too, for,” etc in questions to make the query more conversational.
You need to look at what questions people are asking that relate to your business or industry that don’t require super in-depth answers and see what they might ask over voice. For brick-and-mortar businesses, it could be questions about opening times.
A study on voice searches by SEMrush found that "70% of all answers returned from voice searches already occupied a SERP feature (with 60% of those returning a Featured Snippet result)."
This means that as well as the change in keywords, and implementation of schema, you’ll need to rank well and be close to the top of search results.
But luckily for you, if you are early to voice search and none of your competitors have targeted those more conversational long-tail keywords then you’re likely to surpass their SERP position and could well be at the top by just adding those keywords.
It’s also worth considering the search intent of your potential customers. You’ll need to understand whether they’re reading your articles (Looking for information), shopping online (To buy something that solves a problem) or planning to visit your store (to get help or to make a purchase).
The search intent of your customers (the reason behind why they’re searching) is what should direct all your optimizations, especially when creating content for your website. It will help you predict what customers are likely to search and can then inform your content marketing strategy.
Outside of your website you also want to make sure you have a Google MyBusiness listing set up and kept up to date as well as any other local business listing websites. The more reviews on there means that Google will know your company is trustworthy and will be more likely to promote it. Google MyBusiness listings also appear on Google Maps so when people search for places near them, you’re more likely to show up which will also help with voice searches for your location.
Whether you’re aware or not I’m sure you’ve heard of or used Alexa Skills before.
Alexa skills are like apps for your Amazon smart devices. Popular one’s include “Alexa, guard” which turns your smart device into a security device by notifying you of glass smashes or loud unusual noises.
Other skills include “Alexa, send a hug” which allows you to send a virtual hug to any of your Alexa contacts.
LEGO in 2018 released an Alexa skill that offered stories that could be read to kids based on the LEGO universe.
In 2017 the BBC launched its first Alexa skill which brought all the BBC radio stations to the devices.
In 2016 Uber introduced an Alexa skill that allowed people to book an uber from their devices.
Purina developed “Ask Purina” which gave people the ability to ask questions about Purina’s range of pet products, about looking after pets and about their future range of products.
There are an increasing number of examples from other massive companies, but I think the opportunity exists for smaller companies to implement a similar Interactive Content Strategy into their marketing plans.
For example, companies that do tutoring could build an Alexa skill that makes content around school subjects and could read extracts, quotes, tips and tricks, advice to help people with exams or revision.
Take a look at what content you already have and how it could be positioned differently to be effective as voice results.
Content marketing drives more sales at a lot lower cost than outbound marketing campaigns. Alexa skill campaigns could complement your content marketing campaigns and should be an extension of the new era of content marketing.
For ecommerce clients I’ve worked with I’ve always recommended selling on Amazon for its added reach and active audience.
With Amazon skills, it adds another way people can purchase your products from Amazon, through their Alexa devices.
Ecommerce is the second most used use case for smart assistants.
I’ve focussed mainly on Alexa above because they are one of the most popular, but all this applies to any smart assistant/device.
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