Voice Search is rapidly changing the way people access information on the internet and that’s great news for marketers. Google and other search engines want to help users find the answers to their question as quickly as possible. In 2017, more and more users are conducting their searches without typing anything at all.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search is any search where the question is spoken out loud rather than typed. If you’ve ever asked Siri a question or used a home system like Amazon’s Echo then you’re already using voice search in your everyday life. As our lives get busier and faster, it’s no wonder that voice search is gaining popularity.
The Gartner Predictions estimates that, “about 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020.” That’s just three years away.
“60% of people using voice search have started in the last year” according to MindMeld.
No one is claiming that traditional search methods are going to disappear, at least not anytime soon. But for businesses in every sector, it’s time to create content and modify existing content to make it accessible to voice based searches.
The main difference between voice-based search and traditional typed searches is in how the query is phrased. Instead of the more direct language we’re used to in text-based searching, voice based search uses much more natural language and phrases the query as a complete question. Instead of typing “apply passport online” a voice searcher might ask, “Where can I apply for my passport online?” It may seem like a subtle shift, but as search results still rely heavily on matching specific aspects of the query to the top results, the details matter
Voice Search is Good for Business
Voice search gives businesses one more way to connect with customers and potential customers and it has the potential to be a really powerful marketing tool. When users type a search into a search engine they get pages and pages of results. When they ask a question using voice search, they get just one answer. For businesses that are able to get to the top of SERPs and be that one answer, it’s a huge competitive advantage. Even smaller businesses can benefit from voice search by creating content that answers specific questions about their own business and keeps local searchers in mind. The top spots for big questions will likely go to companies with big marketing departments, but a location specific search like, “Where’s the closest pizza place to Wrigley Field?” could just as easily go to a small establishment with a well-crafted page.
For instance, a user may type “Chicago vacation,” giving the search engine virtually nothing when it comes to intent. But if a user were to indicate a specific purpose for their search, such as, “where can I grab some great deep dish in Chicago next week?” his or her intent comes through clearly. For marketers, these natural language queries help them to serve those folks appropriately.
How can businesses create content for voice searchers?
Step 1: Research
The best way to get started is to find out what questions people in your industry are asking. There are several tools available online that can get this information for you from Moz’s Keyword Explorer to Quora and others. Find out not just what kinds of questions are being asked but how they are being asked, what words are used? Once you have this information you can use it to create new content or rework existing content to match the questions. Remember to use natural language and include the question itself in your content.
Step 2: Choose a Niche
Look for opportunities to create content that could go in a Google Answer Box. You’ve probably seen the Google’s answer boxes appear at the top of the SERPs over the past year. Sitting just below the ads and above all other search results, these answer boxes are prime search real estate.
The answer box looks like this:
The answer boxes contain a featured snippet from the most relevant page on that topic. There are three types of featured snippets that Google is currently using: paragraphs, lists and tables. (Moz has an excellent explainer article that goes into the three types in great detail.) The specifics of exactly how Google selects the most relevant page remains a closely guarded secret, but the basic rules of good SEO still apply. A page that is specific, informative, closely matches the query language and has good domain authority stands a good chance of making it into the answer box. Remember the long tail of search — content that answers very specific questions will be easier to rank for than broader, more popular search queries.
Step 3: Adapt the Content
Chances are you you already have content on your website that answers your customers’ (and future customers’) questions. Now that you’ve done the research to know exactly what kinds of questions they’re asking and you know how you want to answer the question, the final step is adapting your existing content to match up with the topic, wording and format of the customer’s questions. This may be as simple as changing the title or may require deeper edits. Keep the language conversational and don’t forget to split test different options to see which version works best.
“Voice is not just an add-on, but an entirely new way of interacting with the machines that add value to our lives. It is the next big era of computing.” Simon Penson
The team at Stir Marketing can help you get started creating content for voice searches. Contact Stir’s marketing experts for a free consultation or project proposal.