Your Dialogue With People Through Devices
When someone asks a question in voice search, they initiate a dialogue. They ask a question. When your content answers the question directly and simply you continue the dialogue.
More and more people are using voice search to get quick answers. And with new devices like Google Home, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, voice searches are often done without a screen. The device speaks the answer.
Voice search responds to queries in a different way than traditional organic search. Keywords, even long-tailed keywords, don’t get results. Answers are the key.
Only One Answer
Voice search is optimized to find one answer. Unlike search results on a screen where there is a top answer and then other results, voice gives one answer.
You’ll be vying with your competitors for the one answer. It may seem unfair but there’s no second choice with voice results. That’s why it’s important to start thinking now about addressing your content for voice search.
How to Rethink Your Content Approach for Voice Search
Think questions. What questions do potential customers have about your business, your product or service?
Voice search is conversation and natural in tone. Content with a natural conversational flow is even more important. Not only do readers feel comfortable reading your content, your conversational phrases are more likely to be found by voice search.
If you still want to think in terms of keywords, then think question keywords. Those are question beginnings that voice users frequently ask search.
- How to…
- What is…
- How do…
- How does...
Focus on questions about your business to hone your thinking.
- How do people frame questions about your business?
- What does your user need?
- What are they trying to achieve with what they are asking?
- What interaction and experience does the user want?
Then think about how you can frame your content around those questions. Preparation is paramount when replying to voice queries about your business.
Start by making a list of all the questions. Pay attention to every question you are asked about your business even in the most casual situations like the grocery store or talking to neighbors or at a networking event. Every time someone asks what you do and you answer pay attention to their follow-up questions. Those are the types of questions people will ask on voice devices.
Each one of those questions is a potential for a single piece of content. While creating content focused on one topic is good for organic search, it is even better for voice search. Remember that one answer? Your aim is to create the one answer, in a conversational tone that comes from a voice query.
Research search results for your question by doing a search. Choose a question from your list and enter it as a search. The search terms that come up tell you what Google sees as related to that query.
Note the People Also Ask responses. These are questions you can also use to add depth to your content.
Eric Enge, of Stone Temple Consulting, believes that Google looks for content rich in related topics. This means that just creating the response is not sufficient for your answer to show up in a snippet. Your content needs in-depth quality as well as the direct answer. Writing well for search helps boost the possibility of your answer showing up in voice search results.
Take it one step further and notice how competitor results are formatted: paragraphs, bullet list, table. The results differ depending on your business, product, or service. Use these results as clues to mirror the format in order to make your content competitive with the answers future customers (and search) already prefer.
First Seen, First Heard
The reason to think in terms of featured snippets, rich answers, and knowledge box content creation for voice search results is these results in search are more likely to provide the answers in voice search. So if an answer comes up in traditional search in one of those spots, it has a high probability of being the one answer voice returns.
Stone Temple Consulting provides some definitions so you can understand the differences in these first seen search results.
Featured Snippets are Rich Answer (or Direct Answer) results that include a link to the source of the answer.
Knowledge Boxes are Rich Answer results that do not cite sources (e.g. questions like “how many quarts in a gallon”).
Knowledge Panels are Rich Answer results that appear in a sidebar to the right of the regular search results.
Extended Snippets are Rich Answer results where Google adds rich information snippets to a regular search result.
Rich Answers are any search result that includes at least one of the above features.
How to Get Ready for Voice Search
Much of the preparation for voice search is basic search optimization strategy tactics that you should already have in place. When it comes to online presence for your business the more you refine your search optimization strategy, the better results you will have.
- Create and verify a free Google My Business listing. Voice search is mobile and local. Your listing helps search identify your business as “near me” when people ask.
- Create or update your Frequently Asked Questions page on your website. Make sure the questions and answers are written conversational tone. Your answer may be just what someone is asking for on a voice search.
- Keep your content focused on one topic at a time.
- Use structured data markup on your content.
- Create a conversational tone for your website content. Think of yourself answering a question asked by one person and answering them face-to-face.
- It’s not about you, it’s about your potential customer’s need.
- Check your website’s high-ranking content and consider revising the content around questions.
- Optimize your content for featured snippets, rich answers, knowledge box, and extended snippets.
Optimizing for voice search is a matter of combining basic research on search results, fine-tuning customer questions, and organizing your content in succinct conversational chunks.
ComScore says that by 2020, 50 per cent of all searches will be voice searches. That’s only two years away. Every step you take now to target your content for voice will reap rewards now and in the future.
Zara writes semantic web content, ghostwrites books, and guides business owners in writing content for customer action.