What is voice search optimisation and how can you adapt content for the age of virtual assistants? In the early 2000s, at the turn of the century, the idea of speaking to computers and robots seemed too novel and farfetched to ever be considered a norm.
Now, 23 years in, we are witnessing the normalisation of voice assistants in our everyday lives. A study has shown that half of the American population uses voice search in their everyday lives, marking the significant importance of voice assistants and their features in the coming years. Hence, marketers now must find ways to optimise their content for this feature.
What makes voice search different from text search?
The voice search algorithm differs slightly from text search for many reasons. Firstly, voice search results are usually screen-optional, as voice searches are largely requested via mobile devices and smart devices like Apple Watches and Google Home. This means that the search results will be limited to the top-ranked results, in some cases only the top one, on the search engine results pages (SERPs), which makes it even more competitive for your content to be featured.
Other than that, the language style of voice search queries is often distinctly different from text queries. Voice search queries are casual and conversational as they come more naturally to the speaker, while text queries tend to be straightforward, using short keywords to save time during typing. Voice assistants also use natural language processing (NLP) and semantic search to improve their algorithm so they can provide better search results for users, looking beyond what is explicitly said and analysing user intent and what else may be implied.
Hence, the typical search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies may not be enough to help you rank higher in this specific case. This is why a plan for voice search optimisation needs to be introduced to your SEO strategy. Luckily, this will not require a complete overhaul of your existing plan, as you will be able to make small adjustments to enhance your content rankings.
How to go about voice search optimisation?
Consider including long-tail keywords instead of short-tail keywords
As mentioned earlier, voice search queries are often conversational. They are often submitted in full sentences which helps to specify their intent. From this, marketers have gathered that long-tail keywords work best for voice search optimisation. Long tail keywords are keywords that contain three or more words, sometimes even making up a full sentence of a query. While short-tail keywords help to target a wider set of audience, long-tail keywords are better at attracting traffic from users with highly specific intent.
One prime example of long-tail keywords is question keywords, which involve the ‘5W1H’ elements and are particularly useful for voice search optimisation. This is because the question keywords are usually conversational as well, mimicking the natural way we speak to one another. For example, for voice search optimisation of content about travel in Japan and rank higher for voice search, you may develop question keywords from short keywords to include in your content as follows:
- “What essentials do I need to travel to Japan?”
- “Where is the best onsen in Tokyo?”
- “How do I get to Osaka?”
Use conversational language, but never compromise content quality
The era of voice assistance has helped to usher in a new wave of content writing and marketing style. Users and customers are more likely to find genuine charm and trust in approachable strategies, so now is the perfect time to adapt your content strategy.
Establish a brand voice that can appeal to your audience while also balancing a modern and relaxed twist to be more accessible. This way, you can attract your niche audience while also optimising your brand’s content for the voice search algorithm. If your brand voice has space for it, you may also use humour as a tool to turn your content strategy into something worth the buzz.
At the same time, your content should still maintain a sense of authority and add value to your audience. Your content should at least maintain the same level of quality if it is not improved during these changes.
Improve your brand’s local SEO for voice search optimisation
Additionally, if you are a local brand that is operating out of a brick-and-mortar location, it would also be best to take advantage of local SEO to help customers find you faster. Local SEO is often tied to your business profile on the search engine provider which then considers your shop’s location when a related query is submitted in the surrounding area. The theory behind this voice search optimisation strategy? People who inquire via voice search may be in a rush or on the move, so their requests like “restaurants near me” or “salons on XX Street” would have to be within the vicinity and quickly presented.
To climb the SERP rankings on Google, for example, you need to update and maintain your Google Business Profile regularly. The algorithm prefers a more comprehensive profile, including details like contact information, reviews, as well as your most updated business hours; this is crucial for efficient voice search optimisation. Maintaining this business profile is of top priority if you are looking to increase your chances of getting featured in voice search results!
Using mobile optimisation to improve voice search optimisation
Statistics show that more than half of the global website traffic is generated on mobile devices alone. Taking into account that there are approximately 7.1 billion mobile users worldwide as of 2021, 27% of them also use their devices’ voice search features regularly. These numbers should be enough to show you why mobile optimisation is part of voice search optimisation strategies.
Google takes factors like page loading speed, user experience, and design responsiveness into consideration when deciding where your page would rank. Try to study and map out your customer journey from the point they express interest to the point of checkout or conversion to understand the average user journey and improve the user mobile experience. Once you can predict your customer’s behaviour, you can push the right content to the right people more effectively.
Understand SERP features and how to try and score on SERP features
Finally, it can be beneficial to your voice search optimisation journey to learn more about SERP features and how they can add value to your content and strategies. Other than the local pack SEO, which is also a SERP feature, there are also featured snippets and FAQs feature, more commonly known as the ‘people also asked’ section. The featured snippets are previews or short content that the algorithm deems as a direct answer to the query. These featured snippets are then featured at the top of the SERP and are highly favoured by the voice search algorithm.
Due to the screen-optional feature of voice search queries, voice assistants would frequently read out these featured snippets when presenting results to the user. While featured snippets are not a guarantee, one way to attempt to score a feature is by including a popular query in your headings, followed immediately by a succinct answer to attract the algorithm. You may also refer to the ‘people also ask’ section to find out more keywords that are associated with your topic to attract more traffic.
To conclude, the world of content writing and marketing is becoming increasingly competitive. Along with the variety of increasingly rapid technological advancements, the market is becoming more saturated with content that it may be hard to keep up at times.
Keep monitoring your website and content performance and keep adding value to the conversation and you will get better with time. Plus, we believe that quality is ultimately what sets you apart from other brands and companies. Need an extra hand with your branding and content marketing? Let us help you! Reach out to us at hello(a)syncpr.co to find out more.