From the video smartwatches of The Jetsons to the menacing monotone of supercomputer HAL 9000 in the cinematic classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, popular culture has long imagined a future where humans and technology interact with ease.
While we’re yet to see flying cars, time travel or many of the 20th Century’s other wild predictions, we aren’t that far off. When you think about it, isn’t it incredible that we’re now able access the entirety of human knowledge by talking to a little handheld device that fits in our pocket?
Voice Search, whether it’s from Google Home, Amazon Echo & Alexa or Apple’s Siri, is quickly changing the way in which we seek out information in our everyday lives. The pending revolution is already here; voice-enabled smart-device assistants are everywhere, and they pose both challenges and opportunities to businesses big and small.
Here are four simple ways to prepare your business for the world of Voice Search right now:
1. Use longer-tail keywords in your content
In theory, optimising a website for Voice Search should be easy. After all, Voice Search is supposed to be simple and intuitive for users – all we need to do is ask our smartphone or voice-enabled device (e.g. Google Home) a question, and wait for an answer.
But where it gets tricky for digital marketers is in catering for the complexity of human language – the different accents, pitches and tones of our voices. The best way around this is to use longer-tail keywords in your website content, whether it’s blog posts, product descriptions or metadata.
While these keywords tend to attract less search volume than more concise terms, by including a greater number of phrases (especially those targeted towards a specific customer need), your site will be ready for the day when search engines scrape a website’s content in search for answers to highly conversational, very specific questions.
Use tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Answer the Public, etc. to identify longer-tail keywords relevant to your target audience.
Include these longer-tail keywords where relevant throughout your website’s content (landing pages, blog articles, metadata, etc.)
2. Make sure your copy is conversational
The real beauty of Voice Search lies in its simplicity. As previously mentioned, users can ask a question or give a command in their normal everyday language and receive an answer in a matter of seconds.
For example, you might have recently bought an indoor pot plant, only to notice it’s suddenly wilting. No problem, all you need to do is whip out your iPhone and enable Siri, before asking “Hey Siri, my pot plant is wilting, what can I do about it?”
Now let’s say you’re the owner of an inner-city nursery that wants to position itself as an authority on indoor plants. The best way to achieve this and increase the chances your website is chosen to answer the above question is by not only using longer-tail keywords throughout your content, but also ensuring your copy is conversational in tone. In other words, it pays to write your copy with other humans in mind – as opposed to search engine robots – and to directly answer common user questions within that copy.
In the example of this inner-city nursery, this could be as simple as creating an FAQ page that lists answers to questions, such as: “My Indoor Pot Plant is Wilting – How Can I Fix This?”
Write copy for your site with humans in mind, not search engines.
Ensure your content directly addresses specific needs or questions your audience/customers are likely to have.
Having an FAQ page or publishing blog articles that answer specific questions is a great way to achieve this goal.
3. Aim for Position 0 in organic search results
Another way to prepare for the ongoing Voice revolution is to aim for the coveted Position 0 in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Position 0 results include things like Rich Snippets, which feature prominently at the very top of Google’s search results (above Position 1) and contain information extracted from websites whose content directly answers users’ specific question(s).
To get to 0, you’ll need to be providing detailed answers to specific questions relevant to your audience using natural, conversational language. By sprinkling this content with targeted keywords and ensuring relevant schema mark-ups are implemented, you’ll increase your chances of becoming a go-to resource for answers as the adoption of Voice Search continues to grow.
Aim to rank your site in Position 0 for specific terms, at the very top of the search results pages.
Ranking in Position 0 can be achieved through answering specific questions in detail, using natural conversational language and targeted keywords.
Don’t forget to use schema mark up!
4. Deliver a personalised, geo-targeted experience to your customers
Our final tip for preparing for Voice Search and the future of our digital economy more generally is to leverage your customer data and audience information to deliver a highly personalised experience for each and every customer.
First-time visitors to your site won’t necessarily expect you to know their name or specific preferences, but at the very least the information you serve them should reflect their current geographic location. Meanwhile their overall experience of your website should be one of efficiency (pages that load instantly), intuitive navigation (achieved via strong UX design) and engaging content that tells a story they can relate to on a human level, rather than merely trying to sell them more stuff.
Leverage your customer data and audience information to deliver a highly personalised experience for every visitor to your site.
At the very least, ensure the content you serve visitors is geographically targeted and highlights relevant products or services nearby.
Finally, make sure your site delivers the best customer experience possible – fast loading speeds, simple navigation/UX, and engaging content that meets the user’s needs.