Google Home and Amazon Echo are changing the way people find what they need online. Simply ask these devices a question and you get answers [which are likely generated by voice search strategy]. You can be in the middle of washing dishes and still find out what the first steps are when you’re getting your house ready to sell. If you’re thinking about taking a trip to NYC during June and are wondering what the weather’s like, these personal assistants are ready to help out without you having to lift a finger.
While using voice search to inquire about real estate timelines and vacation plans may be easy, marketers looking to optimize their content for voice face a bit of a challenge. There are some slightly different approaches to a voice search strategy, which means understanding the nuances is essential for companies looking to connect with consumers.
Voice search is here to stay, at least for the near future. The marketer’s job, therefore, must include optimizing for voice. Voice search strategy is a leading trend for 2018 and if you doubt it’s significance, don’t. There are substantial reasons why you should care about voice SEO enough to include voice-specific tactics in your overall marketing campaign.
Google Home Pulls Answers from Featured Snippets
When searchers ask Google Home a question regarding real estate, travel or any other industry, the assistant provides an answer and cites the website it used as a source. It also sometimes sends the source link to the user’s Google Home app.
Many marketers don’t realize that Google Home and Google Assistant provide answers by reading snippets from websites ranked in “position zero” and given a featured snippet. This is just one of the many reasons why you should be optimizing your content to show up in featured snippets.
If you take time to understand the intent behind users’ voice search queries, you can create content that directly speaks to their needs and wants. Your chance of showing up in a featured snippet is greater if you seek to provide the best solution to questions your target audience has about your industry, product and services.
When Google reads the top answer to a user query and your brand is cited as the resource, you earn credibility and potentially traffic to your website. Google also keeps its users happy.
When there aren’t good snippets to read because no one is providing on-target answers, Google can’t provide a search result and searchers don’t get what they need. Google wants you to win so it can win. That’s why Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller recently asked marketers on Twitter to offer feedback regarding their desire to have voice search results singled out on Google Search Console. From a marketers perspective, analyzing voice search data in Google Console could reveal the types of queries that typically trigger the reading of featured snippets. It could be an invaluable SEO tool for brands across industries.
We’ve Already Seen Evidence of Search Mode Changing Search Behavior
Back in the early days of mobile SEO, marketers compared desktop and mobile search queries and saw that there was a better way to meet customer demand. We were able to look at a query based on context and then structure our search campaigns to provide solutions given a consumer’s intent.
As an example, searchers sometimes used the same words in a mobile search as they did in a desktop search. But, they used them more or less depending on the nature of the query. And, they created new categories of queries that were possible on mobile because of GPS and therefore almost nonsensical on desktop.
Queries that contain the words “near me,” for instance, almost always happen on mobile. These types of searches have increased significantly over the last several years, and there’s a specific response a marketer should make through content to address them.
If a completely unique approach to mobile search is needed, it makes sense that a targeted response to voice search is required.
Search mode changes search behavior as it reveals to users which types queries are likely to provide the answers they’re looking for. If we take a look at voice search in this context, we can see that some searches only work well with voice devices like Google Home. We can guess what many of them might be, such as queries about a user’s daily schedule. But, others aren’t so easy to identify in these early stages of voice search.
The marketer’s aim should be – as always – to decipher user intent regarding a specific type of query or a certain topic. But, it takes more analysis currently to do this for voice than it does with desktop or mobile searches.
Google admits that voice search is different. It says that voice queries are 30 times more likely to be action oriented than queries typed into a search bar. But, even if we were able to identify the intent behind all of these action-focused searches, we might not be able to action on them ourselves as marketers. We could at least, however, alter our some of our copy to address the specific questions users feel Google Home can provide answers to.
By thinking about voice search and the types of queries users make through devices like Google Home, we at minimal have more of an understanding of our target audience and that’s the never-ending goal of a marketer.
If you have Google Home or another virtual assistant that provides you with answers to voice queries, consider what you ask it. You’ll probably realize that you turn to voice search for certain types of questions and to your mobile device for others.
Moving Forward towards Voice Search Stragegy
When we’re able to separate the data into that belonging to voice and non-voice searches, we’ll be able to better understand specific steps needed for voice SEO. We still don’t have good numbers on the amount of people using voice search strategy on devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. And, branded search queries aren’t likely offering users the best results at the present time.
But, as with other technologies in the innovations and early adopter stage, we need to keep our eyes open to growth and the possibilities of voice. We can still optimize our content without knowing exactly which queries we’re addressing, voice or non-voice. Paying attention to voice search’s increasing presence in users’ lives at the least helps us do a better job of connecting our audience to the products and services we provide.