It’s no secret that we live in a different marketing landscape to even a decade ago, let alone several. The rise and rise of ‘pocket PCs’ like tablets and smartphones have revolutionised how clients find you. We’ve seen Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Voice move from science fiction to solid fact, helping users find what they need through voice searches. Do you need to make sure they can find you through voice as easily? Definitely- over 60% of web searches are now performed on mobile devices. It’s even predicted that 2020 could be the year over half of those are by voice alone. Today the gurus at Zebra 360  Digital Marketing will be taking you through the SEO of voice optimisation, one step at a time.

Your keywords will change to suit speech patterns

First, let’s look at the sorts of keywords you’ll use. Type-search keywords can be very specific and focused, but they don’t match the inflexion and natural speaking patterns we use in ‘real life’. The correct keywords for a voice search need to account for that. You’ll be looking for a natural, conversational tone throughout. Voice search is also typically longer than typed search engine queries.

Local is Lekker

When it comes to voice search, know it’s usually for local areas. People are more likely to be looking for the local pizza joint or tonight’s hot show on voice. It doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for searchers with bigger queries or from further locales, but make sure you cater to the local demographics first and foremost.

6 top voice search SEO tips

With those 2 facts in mind, what else do we need to be able to do to ensure our content is 100% voice friendly? Here’s a few key areas to focus on.

1.   Work with what’s already there

Google didn’t become the ubiquitous overlord of our digital imagination by slacking on the job! You’ll be surprised what information is already out there about your business- but it may not be in your control. Make sure you have claimed your Google ‘My Business’ listing (and that it’s correct). Close all older profiles if you’ve moved or changed phone numbers, too. With an accurate, up-to-date listing, your chances of cropping up on voice search become significantly higher.

2.   Keep readers- and listeners- comfortable

The whole point of mobile is that it’s quick and accessible. Your searchers are more likely to quickly scan a listing for what they want than sit down and read a lengthy piece. The content you use should be easy-to-read, scannable…. and devoid of nagging. We mean it! No pop-ups that block scrolling. No ads covering the entire screen. Keep it simple, with short paragraphs and clear formatting to be easy on the eye (and the mobile device screen)  and avoid a wall-of-text effect.

3.   Let the keywords do the talking- fast

That thing we mentioned about ‘natural’ speech? That means short, sharp keywords are not the way to optimise your content for voice. This is the domain of ‘long-tail’ keywords. Think of how someone might ask a friend to ‘search’ for you, or questions you hear from customers daily. What would the question sound like? How would you articulate it? That’s the tone you’re looking for.

Now’s a good time to fire up Google Search Console and see what queries are bringing people to your site already, too. But remember one key aspect- people using voice search want fast, clear answers to what they’re asking. This isn’t a format for waffle and prose.

4.   Help out with FAQs

In a similar vein, an FAQ page can be a great way to gather together these questions and queries and display them in a neat, voice optimised, SEO-friendly way. Focus on natural groupings that flow, even if it’s over multiple pages. Basically, make sure that the search engine trying to pull answers from your site can find easily digestible content it needs. Remember, Google’s ‘rich snippet’ requirement is a great way to showcase quick answers (and boost your visibility), so plan with that in mind. It will benefit your text-based SEO too!

5.   Start the microdata revolution

It may seem like these tips are catering to Google and search engines, not the end reader. That’s not entirely wrong- it’s the search engine taking the voice data and converting it to the displayed answer the user is looking for, after all. The easier the search engine can crawl the site, the better it displays and the more user-friendly you seem, boosting your visibility. Sitemaps allow you to tell Google how to ‘read’ key info, including location, working hours, phone numbers and more. Adding microdata, and different markups, helps Google interpret your content. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper can help greatly with creating this.

6.   Understand voice isn’t all work and no play

We’ve all seen cute videos of people asking Siri or Cortana silly questions. That’s not just the latest viral video- it’s a clear indication of how people view the tech. Staid and stuffy formality is not the name of the voice SEO game. How can you optimise for voice search without losing flavour? How can you keep your brand personality interesting and viable? It’s all with planning for in your marketing efforts.

Voice search SEO isn’t another hoop to jump through. It needs new and sometimes challenging strategies, sure, but it’s also a great way to engage in a real, almost face-to-face way with consumers again. With these top voice search optimisation tips under your belt, you’ll be well placed to stay ahead of the pack, too. Don’t forget, the Zebra 360 digital marketing team are also on hand to help you thrive.