With the advent and popularisation of voice search products such as the Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and of course Apple’s Siri (as well as other mobile assistants), brands are understandably keen to leverage voice search to boost their reach and sales.
Voice search refers to the use of voice commands for searching for web results. This can be as simple as asking Alexa where your nearest Thai restaurant is, or asking Siri what the ‘best shoes in Australia’ are. Voice searches return results quite a bit differently than ordinary text searches through Google (and other search platforms). Voice search tends to return only the highest ranking results, and on top of that – only suggests sites that are mobile optimised.
Something else to consider is how voice search is usually performed in a totally screen-less way. A voice search user may be washing the dishes when they ask their Google Assistant to purchase some new detergent, for example – all without browsing through search results on a desktop computer. This means that voice search usually takes the form of long tail queries rather than key term searches that we might perform whilst typing. As is probably obvious by now, focussing on SEO for ordinary text searches is not quite the same as topping voice search results.
You might be wondering how important voice SEO really is for your business. Here are some compelling stats.
- By 2020 50% of all searches will be performed via voice command
- In the US, 71% of smartphone users aged 18-29, 59% of those aged 30-43, 39% of those aged 44-53, and 38% of people aged 54 and above use mobile personal assistants.
- 19% of people report to using Siri at least once every day
For these reasons and more, it’s important to consider Voice SEO.
How do we optimise our online content for voice search?
Besides from the obvious search engine optimisation, there are some characteristics of voice search that we need to consider when trying to optimise our content to top voice search results:
- Long tail questions
- Use of casual language
- The favouring of Google’s ‘featured snippets’
- Emphasis on informative, high ranking, authoritative content
- Emphasis on ‘near me’ local businesses
As we briefly covered earlier, most voice searches are performed conversationally, and framed as long tailed queries. Whilst you might text search, “best burger Melbourne”, you’re more likely to voice search, “Google, where is the best burger near me?” with the same intention. For this reason, when working on SEO, you should consider the casual, long winded ways in which people may voice search for brands like yours.
In the above example, it’s also clear that voice search is often used to find local results. For this reason it’s important for your business to have a strong Google Maps presence. You can ensure this by filling out your Google My Business profile to completion. Find out more about the service, here.
Because voice search is often performed completely away from the screen, and because of the on-the-go nature of voice search intentions – the top results often get the attention. For example, someone who voice searches for an emergency electrician nearby is far more likely to call the electrician that the Google assistant, Alexa, or Siri mentions first.
Google’s ‘featured snippets’ often occupy the top ranking position of voice search results. This is because featured snippets are meant to answer questions, or give the wanted results, straight away without any further scrolling or click throughs. Because of this, having your site platformed by a featured snippet can help you capitalise on voice search at a whole new level. We cover what featured snippets are, and how you can get your content featured, below.
What are featured snippets?
Have you ever Google’d something only to see your question answered up top, in a convenient little box?
That’s a featured snippet. Featured snippets are designed to answer searches and questions immediately, without prompting the searcher to have to scroll through links.
Featured snippets feature selected search results that Google displays below ads, and above organic results. They feature web results with high quality content, and usually sourced from an authoritative (high ranking, highly visited) site or web page.
These featured snippets, because of how they readily answer searched questions, are often the first result returned by a voice search assistant. If you’ve ever asked Siri or Alexa a question such as “what’s in a carrot cake?” and your assistant answers with a full list of ingredients straight off the bat; the assistant was most likely reading out a featured snippet on Google.
Lastly, featured snippets are far more likely to turn up in search results when long tail keywords are used. Which means that the more words used in a search, the more likely the results will return a featured snippet. This is why voice searches often result in featured snippets.
When it comes to getting your brand into the featured snippet spot light, it’s important to concentrate on SEO. Most featured snippets are taken from web pages which already rank in the top ten results for the key terms used. So improving your rankings is the number one priority when it comes to getting featured.
Also, the niche of your brand plays a large part in whether or not you’ll get featured. Featured snippets are most likely to show up for the topics DIY, health, and finance. If you have content geared towards these topics, then it’s well worth focusing on those pages’ rankings in order to get into a featured snippet spot.
How does marketing automation help us achieve voice search optimisation?
Although much of voice search optimisation will take place not on your marketing automation platform, but by using SEO specific tools, there are a few ways in which marketing automation tools can help with your voice search optimisation.
Driving traffic to key landing pages to increase their ranking
One way of increasing your page’s rankings is by increasing the number of organic, high quality inbound links to your page. Marketing automation can help by driving traffic to specific landing pages. You can send emails with strong Calls to Action which link to your landing page, for example. You can also feature easily accessible sharing buttons on your e-newsletter articles, or landing pages, in order to encourage the sharing of your content across social media, and other channels.
Similarly, you can develop high quality content for your marketing campaigns, and make it clear that recipients are welcome to cross-channel the content on their own sites. Perhaps have an easy to click button to contact your marketing team about republishing your content.
Marketing Automation can help to streamline the driving of traffic to the web pages you want to improve the ranking for. By cross channeling your content, and using tools that make sharing your media easier, you not only capitalise on the traffic from your email marketing strategy; you also improve the chances of your quality content getting linked to on social media, and other people’s sites and pages.
Creating out-of-the-box mobile responsive landing pages readily and easily
The mobile responsiveness of your web pages drastically affect how highly ranked they are in voice search results. If your web page is not mobile optimised, it’s likely to not rank in the top 10 results in voice search.
Luckily, some Marketing Automation platforms (like ours at Swift Digital) guarantees that all pages, emails, and surveys created with our software will be automatically mobile responsive.
Detailed reporting and analysis to help you understand your audience better
Whilst a strong SEO tool would best be suited for figuring out what key terms, and long-tailed queries you should focus your content on (to appear as high up as possible in search results), marketing automation software also gives you access to detailed reporting and tools that shed plenty of light on your target audience and the way they tick.
Figuring out what niche topics you garner the most attention from, for example, is something you can figure out by viewing and comparing the reports of different email marketing campaigns, and seeing which topics receive the most opens, clicks, and engagement overall.
You can also use tools such as A/B split testing to test different ways of writing the same thing (for example, subject lines that are worded casually, then formally) and seeing which types of tones and words garner the most engagement.
Focusing on engagement in your marketing results helps to shed light on what topics your brand is most likely to appear as an authoritative figure on. And as mentioned above, how authoritative, high quality, and organically visited your content is – the more likely it will appear higher up in search results, including voice search results.
Voice search is easily on its way to superseding traditional search, and it’s for this reason that your brand should consider voice search optimisation now, rather than later.
Whilst a strong SEO tool is best for optimising your web pages in order to rank higher in results, Marketing Automation software gives you access to tools that will help you streamline your content marketing strategy – and the usefulness and quality of your content is what will ultimately drive your rankings.
For that reason, voice search and marketing automation go hand in hand. If you want your brand to top voice search results, it’s imperative that you keep up to date with the automation and SEO tools that are available. The world is changing fast. It’s best to stay ahead than risk lagging behind. Consider voice search the next time you work on SEO, and build out your automated marketing strategy.