voice-activate search through digital personal assistants

How To Optimize Your Site For Voice Search

As we get deeper and deeper into the technological age, there are thousands of different types of new tech popping up. One of those types is the Personal Assistant—Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana, or the Google Home (whose name is the most boring of all: "Assistant").

These virtual personal assistants can be incredibly helpful both in searching for information on the internet and for doing things around the house, especially as the "smart home" idea catches on.

We've established this type of tech can be beneficial personally. But what does that mean for your business?

Well, essentially, it introduces a new type of search optimization for your business to target: Personal Assistant Search Optimization (PASO), or more commonly referred to as voice search. As voice search becomes more and more prevalent with a growing volume of search queries being asked via digital personal assistants, optimizing for voice search is imperative.

The goal of voice search optimization is to reduce information clutter by focusing only on the required information. It allows Siri and Alexa to find pertinent information as quickly as possible.

What does this mean for SEO?

Voice search is much different from your typical desktop or mobile search. When you open Google on your web browser and type in your search query, you're met with hundreds of pages of search results.

But when you ask Siri a question, it yields fewer results. In fact, many times only one answer is read back to the searcher.

So with fewer results presented, your business can have a potentially higher CTR, but with just a single result read, you need to ensure your website is ranking first (or, more importantly, in position zero).

What is position zero?

This is the term for those featured snippets you see at the top of search results before the listed results even appear.

Here's an example of the search query search engine optimization:

Optimization

If you haven't started optimizing your content for these featured snippets with precise HTML tags, that needs to be a top priority on your to-do list.

How do you optimize for voice search?

As with any search engine optimization strategy, you'll need to begin by adapting your content strategy. Adjust your content approach to focus on phrases that are often used in natural, conversational speech alongside long-tail keyword topics. Instead of thinking about how people are typing things, you need to think about how people are saying things.

Although this is a great exercise in finding your voice when writing content, reading everything aloud before you publish is also a great way to see if it flows well and sounds like something people would ask their digital personal assistants. Anticipate and answer questions with short, simple responses. Think about what questions your audience would ask and how they would phrase them. Include those questions in your content, particularly as subheadings. Make sure the sentences flow naturally when spoken aloud.

You also want to ensure your site and content is mobile-friendly. If your website isn't user-friendly for mobile users, a personal assistant app, especially one connected to a smartphone, is not going to share your website as a possible resource.

Optimize unique metadata for every page on your website, and use Schema Structured data markup wherever possible to provide search engines and digital personal assistants with as much information as possible. Also be sure to format your content into skimmable, easy to read sections with bold subheadings and bulleted lists that follow a conversational structure. Not only is this essential to the personal assistant, but it's beneficial to optimizing your content for position zero.

Focus on the local

Next, make sure your local SEO strategy is at the top of its game and that your business name, address, and contact info is accurate and consistent across the web. Start by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business profile so that local search results for your business reflect the most current and up to date information available. Make sure your business listing is complete and comprehensive in every online directory you're listed in. And ensure that every piece of information regarding your business is written clearly and in plain HTML on your website so that search engines can easily index it.

When creating content on your website, always include words that people use in conversation to describe your neighborhood, local landmarks, and local institutions that are relevant to your business. Optimize content surrounding the "near me" phrasing as well.

Study how each personal assistant works

Finally, it's essential to understand how people are using their digital personal assistants for search.

Not every personal assistant is created equal. In fact, each brand has their own method of teaching their users to use voice search, so understanding the phrasing of certain commands and spoken actions can help to provide insight into the best queries to optimize your content and website copy around.

Study each personal assistant's rules and action commands. How does that company recommend people ask questions to their personal assistant? What are the common commands and phrases that are used with voice search and personal assistants?

That information is vital to catering your content and website copy to PASO. Once you figure out how questions need to be phrased, you can optimize content with the proper language.

Where are personal assistants sourcing their information?

Virtual personal assistants typically pull their information from the top search results on your preferred search engine. Most people, when asking their personal assistant for information, ask in the form of a question. So instead of needing to optimize for keywords, you need to ensure you’ve optimized your content surrounding a primary question.

How are personal assistants delivering results to queries?

Typically, when someone asks a question to their virtual personal assistant with voice search, they want a short, quick answer. Those responses tend to be 50-60 words at most. Knowing this information can help you form both the question and the answer within your content.

Although your blog content on your website will explain the concept, the questions, and the answers in detail, you still want to include a section of each piece of copy that lays out the conversational question and a quick 50-60 word answer so that search engines can easily pick it out and present it in results.

PASO isn’t the only way to help grow your business. Learn how search, display, and social advertising boosts high-end retailer's YOY sales by 70%, and why a holistic approach to marketing can really benefit your business.

Shayna Brandi
About the Author

Shayna Brandi

Shayna studied journalism and new media at the University of Georgia before joining the SEO team at Elite. With her background in storytelling she brings a unique perspective to the team, and focuses on content strategy and user experience. Shayna also loves cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs and Atlanta Falcons every season.

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