Nothing moves as fast as the digital marketing world. Every year, and sometimes every week there seems to be a new invention or iteration that is changing the landscape that marketers have grown accustomed to. One year, the rage was blog content. Then, it was video content. And now, it is live video. But that is just one example of the quickly changing environment. In this guide, I am going to show you exactly how to prepare for the era of voice search. But first, let me tell you why it is so important.
Why is voice search important all of a sudden?
Chances are you might not have thought much of voice search. Even I did not for a while. So far, it has just been a tool that is semi-convenient when you are in a hurry or need to be hands free with your Google search. But voice search has not been the primary form of online searching. After all, if your hands are free, you are probably just going to type your search into Google the old-fashioned way. For people who do use voice search, there are a few different devices that they can use. Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google voice search are some of the most common options.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Great. Those are the devices but many people are not actually using voice search. At least, there is no adequate usage to worry about it as a marketer, right?”And that is where you would be wrong. The reality is that more people are using voice search than you probably had originally expected. In particular, that number sits right around 20% of all mobile searches.
Since 2013, voice search queries have constantly been increasing and most likely the voice search is on the rise due to its convenience. No one likes to type a long search on their phone and misspell it a number of times because the buttons are too small. And now that voice search is, in fact, quite good at translating human language into text, the era of voice search has begun. But as a marketer and SEO expert, what should you do about it?
Here are the things that you need to do to prepare:
Understand and target micro-moments
The first thing you need to do to prepare your SEO strategy for voice search is target micro-moments. Now what are these micro-moments? These are the short windows of opportunity where a searcher is ready to try, buy or commit. They are not searching because they are curious or interested. They are searching because they need your product and they are prepared to spend money to get it. To be more crisp, Google defines micro-moments as the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do and I-want-to-buy moments. In other words, these are the moments that are packed with lead generation and conversion potential. They represent a gold mine of potential for your business. If you can target people during micro-moments, then your conversion rate will increase highly.
These micro-moments are even more important when it comes to voice search. Think about it. When was the last time you voice searched for something leisurely, such as, “Top 10 online gifs” or “Funny videos” or something of that nature? Normally, when people use voice search, they are doing it because they are in a hurry. They are searching for things like, “How to cook broccoli in a microwave” or “Why won’t my car turn on?” This implies that searchers might actually be more invested in their online activity when they are searching vocally rather than through text. But how can you target these crucial moments that need a decision? Well, it comes down to targeting the right keywords on your website. Perform a little keyword research with a resource like Wordstream keyword tool.
Type the keywords that you are interested in targeting. In this case, I am using “buy shoes” as an example.
Then, Wordstream tool will show you a list of the top keywords surrounding that search. It will list the keywords in the order of highest search volume at the top to lowest search volume at the bottom.
Why is this so important? Well, it helps you to prepare for micro-moments with voice search and text search by precisely determining what people are searching. Once you are aware of that, targeting your prospect’s high-commitment moments is just a matter of selecting the keywords. Select the ones that represent micro-moments and create content and web pages around those keywords. For instance in the above example, the keywords that represent the highest commitment are probably “shoe buy,” “shoes online,” and “discount shoes.” These are the moments that people opt-in, buy and eventually help your bottom line. And often, these moments happen during voice search. To enhance their potential, choose the keywords that represent these high-commitment gold mines.
Prepare for more long-tail keywords
When people are vocally searching rather than typing, the long-tail keywords excel. What is a long-tail keyword? It is simply a keyword that is longer, and generally less common than short keywords. For example, “Buy shoes” would be a short keyword but “Buy blue basketball sneakers” would be a long-tail version. As you can see, the long-tail keyword is more accurate than the generic one. And since it is more specific, there is usually less competition surrounding it. These keywords are, in fact, the heartbeat of voice search. Why? This is because when people are talking instead of texting, they tend to use longer keywords.
Thus it means that in order to optimize your SEO strategy for voice search, you need to pay special attention to long-tail keywords. You may, for instance, want to go against the tide and consider keywords that include filler words and prepositions.
In other words, you should always target keywords that mimic the way people speak. You probably would not say “Buy shoes” into your phone but you can say “Buy white basketball shoes” or even “Where can I find white basketball shoes?” Generally, people who are using voice search are in a hurry and will be more specific. And since they are speaking, they will be more conversational. That makes long-tail keywords the apex of SEO for voice searches. You can do the same thing with your website content. Think about the topic you are going to try to rank for and then ask yourself these two questions:
- How would someone ask this question if they were speaking instead of typing?
- How can I object a keyword that is similar?
The more prepared you are for the enhancement of long-tail keywords, the more prepared your SEO strategy will be for voice search.
Optimize load times
When you think of voice search, you probably do not immediately think of the importance of a fast website. Perhaps you think of developing your keyword strategy or changing around your PPC. But what is this about load time? How is that related with voice search? Well, it is no secret that your website’s load time directly impacts your bounce rate. The longer time your website takes to load, the more people will leave before viewing anything. But here is the more important thing to remember for our purposes – If people leave a slow website when they are typing in a search, what about when they are voice searching? After all, the voice searchers are generally in more of a hurry than people those who type in their search. That is why they are talking into their phones in the first place. This implies that if your website is slow, the load time will be even more detrimental. But how can you test your website to see if it is fast enough? Pingdom is a great tool for doing so.
Enter the URL of your website and choose the location that you want to test from.
Click “Start Test.”
Pingdom will provide you a website speed diagnoses. You want to make sure that your website is at least a “B.” Ideally, your website load time should be under three seconds. This will make sure that you are not losing visitors due to a slow website.
One thing is for sure: If your website load speed is suffering, so is your SEO strategy, especially, when it comes to voice searches. Voice searchers are in more of a hurry than text searchers, so make sure that you optimize your website’s load speed if it is suffering.
Study the searcher’s intent
Have you ever typed something into a Google search only to get results that were not what you were looking for? You might have reworded the search a few times trying to find an article or website that actually answered your question but to no avail. It seemed to you that Google misinterpreted each search and you could not find what you needed. It is important, whether voice search or text search, to study what searchers actually want when they type in your target keywords. Then, deliver it to them. Define your target keywords. Ask yourself what searchers want when they type a keyword into a search engine. And then create a piece of content that exactly caters to their requirement. Someone, for instance, who types in, “What is digital marketing”……is at a very different place in the buying journey than someone who types in, “Hire a digital marketer.”
The first person just wants to investigate the basics of digital marketing, whereas, the second person wants to hire a digital marketer. When you create website content, determine the type of content you are creating. Are you creating content for people who are ready to convert or to generate traffic and leads for your website? The difference is critical. In particular, “what” and “who” questions are of low-commitment; “How” questions are a little higher, followed by “when” questions. Finally, the “where” questions are of high-commitment.
Take the following questions and their level of commitment as an example.
- What is digital marketing?
- How does digital marketing work?
- When should I invest in digital marketing?
- Where can I hire a digital marketer?
You can see the different levels of commitment with each type of question. And, when optimizing your website’s content for voice SEO, what you are serving up needs to match the intent behind the keywords because it is usually the highest commitment.
Understand your customer
Understanding your customer is essential in addition to the searcher’s intent and your marketing efforts. To market successfully to the people who are going to buy from you, you need to know who they are, how they think and what they want. And for voice search, this is critical because people speaking into their phones are in a hurry and will quickly get annoyed with results that aren’t what they were looking for. If you do not understand your customer, you cannot market to them successfully. One of the best ways to define your perfect customer is to create a customer avatar surrounding the person you want to market to. Just fill in these blanks.
At the end, your customer avatar sheet should look something like this –
The more specific you are, the better you will understand your target market. Treat your customer avatar like they are an individual, a real person. After this, create content and web pages that cater directly to the pains, needs, wants and desires of your customer. There is no better way to prepare your website for voice searchers than by understanding the people who are behind the microphone.
Use content marketing to increase top-of-funnel generation
Many voice searchers are trying to find out how to do something. They want to know how to cook a certain vegetable, swaddle their baby or fix their car. All of these questions make for great top-of-the-funnel content marketing topics for you to target. Just do some keyword research to seek out the top questions your ideal customer might have and then prepare content targeting those exact keywords. I know that optimizing for top-of-the-funnel SEO strategies can at times feel like a waste of time. But if you do not get people to enter your funnel, you won’t be able to get them to purchase and become an existing customer. Content marketing, in general, is wildly effective for generating traffic to your website.
That is probably why 86% of B2C marketers are using content marketing as part of their outreach strategy. Content marketing performs a great job of capturing the “how-to” queries of voice searchers. These searches are not necessarily high-commitment. But if you are the person to help them with well-placed content when they need it, the chances are good that they will return to you when they are ready to buy.
Build a mobile-responsive website
You most likely know how important it is to have a mobile responsive website. The number of devices that people search on today (desktop, mobile, and tablet) requires your website to quickly and easily adapt to the device it is viewed on. If it does not, then the experience seems lazy and under-performing to the viewers. In fact, 57% of customers would not recommend a brand with a bad mobile experience, 40% would have gone to the competition after visiting a bad mobile site and 23% have cursed at their phones when a site would not work.
With voice search this is, in fact, more important. Why? This is because people who search using voice are usually using a mobile device. They are not using a computer or tablet. But how do you check to see if your website is mobile-friendly? Simply use Google’s Mobile- Friendly Test.
Just type the URL of your company. In the below example, I am using the baby fashion online retailer, Swanky Sweetums. Click “Run Test.” And then the following page will come up.
If the test shows that your website is not mobile-friendly, then you may want to consider using a website-creation service that optimizes for mobile automatically. WordPress, Shopify and Squarespace are a few options.
Test and iterate as often as possible
Nothing is more important for your website’s voice search optimization than the ability to test and iterate your strategy. Voice search has been quite popular for some time now but only recently has it become a practical and sought after option for searching online. Most voice search tools can understand human speech far more correctly now than they once were able to. This means that people now are more confident about using the voice search feature on their mobile device. Since voice search is a recent phenomenon, therefore, finding its footing, testing and iteration are highly important. Your process should look something like this:
Start with analysis, move to strategy and then jump to optimization. Rinse and repeat whenever you can and your voice search strategy will bring in traffic, leads and conversions in no time.
Sometimes, the marketing world is difficult to keep up with. It is likely that the next speedy but noteworthy invention is voice search. Now that voice search is finally capable of translating human speech to text with accuracy, it is becoming a more viable search option for consumers. That means that you should pay attention to it, too. Always target micro-moments and long-tail keywords to create a user experience which is practical. Then optimize load times on your website, study the searcher’s intent and understand your customer so that they do not become annoyed and bounce somewhere else. Finally, use content marketing and always make sure that you have a mobile-responsive website and test and iterate your strategy as often as possible. With those strategies, you will definitely beat your competitors to the voice-search punch.