With a smart phone in every pocket, our access to the wider world of knowledge and information has never been greater. Increasingly, users are now expecting unimpeded access to this world through the disembodied voice of smart assistants, accessed through simple voice search – as many as half of all searches were made by voice in 2020.
As the world of the web is now increasingly interpreted and spoken by Siri, Alexa and their cohort, content is changing. Users need to find your content through voice search, and these voice assistants need to be able to unravel it for the questioner. Optimizing content for voice search is more important than ever, so let’s see how we do it.
The Time Has Come
Voice-activated technology has been evolving before our eyes and in the last few years Siri and Alexa have become our constant companions. As the technology and users co-adapt to the behaviour of the other, a culture emerges around voice search – one that it’s vital you get on board with.
Traditional searches took place through key words, often abstractly linked together such as weather wednesday el paso. And at first, this is how users approached voice search. “Historically, users have doubted the ability of AI to understand full sentences, but this is changing. Increasingly, users are speaking in natural language to their voice-operated assistants, and expecting complete comprehension from the AI,” says Tim Daniels, a tech writer at Boomessays and Ukservicesreviews.
We’ve evolved from weather wednesday to “OK Google, tell me what the weather will be like on Wednesday in El Paso.”
Voice Technology Now
As the AI gets smarter, so do content creators and SEO designers. Let’s assess the current state of voice technology so we know what we’re dealing with.
- Handling homonyms! Voice content sometimes struggles with homonyms – words that sound the same, but have different meanings. For example, if you’re interested in the Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes, you’ll be pretty disappointed to be presented with the phone number of an estate agent called Sherlock Homes.
To handle homonyms, voice assistants are increasingly programmed to understand the spelling of a word – if Alexa tries to offer you the wrong result, you can spell it out for her: H-O-L-M-E-S.
- Context-dependent searching. The use of pronouns in language saves us from using unwieldy nouns in every sentence. You might ask Siri “Where is France?” but if you want to carry on quizzing, you’ll probably say “How big is it?” or “What is its population?”In these sentences, “it” is the pronoun standing in for France, and voice-assistants need to know from the context of your questioning which pronouns mean what.
- Location As A Form Of Context. Much more than when we type, we rely on context when we speak. Voice assistants need to use all the data they have about the speaker to interpret that context, and so location data is becoming more important in the search results users receive. If a user asks “Where is the Hilton Hotel?” then voice assistants need to have an instinct for which Hilton the user is looking for.
Fundamentally, speech and text are different ways to communicate. We rely much more on context clues in speech and there’s often more ambiguity. From an SEO-perspective, we want to be providing our users with hyper-specific content that meets their needs every time, so when you’re optimizing your content for voice search you need to identify areas of ambiguity and eliminate them as much as possible.
Optimized For Voice – 5 Key Tips
Now we understand how voice search differs from text, and the current state of voice-assistant technology, we can turn our attention to some content-optimization tips.
1) Understand Your Users
Providing effective results from a voice search means interpreting questions with a host of context to access the true meaning of phrases. It’s never been more important for content creators to understand the demographic they’re writing for.
“Finding out who your users are, from socioeconomic status to generational position, will enable you to identify how they’re using voice search. For example, Gen Z are using a radically different vocabulary from their elders, so you may need to tailor your content to youthful slang,” suggests Richard Monson, a business blogger at Studydemic and Revieweal.
2) From Keywords To Phrases
Traditionally, searches were undertaken through awkward and abstracted keywords, disconnected from grammar and normal speech. But increasingly, users are tending towards full spoken sentences full of natural language when they use a voice search. Whole phrases are going to become the common keyword-tags for your content.
Top optimize your content for voice SEO, it’s important to think about how your users are phrasing their search. Rather than asking El Paso Best Tacos, for example, full expressions such as “What are the best tacos in El Paso” or “Where are the best tacos in El Paso” will become the search terms. Even crucial differences between “what” and “which” can determine the success of your SEO.
3) Anticipating Specific Questions
Shifting your content keywords to whole sentences will bring you closer to how users are interacting with voice search. As well as natural language, users will tend towards highly specific questions based on their interest and anticipating these searches will allow you to further optimize your content for voice search.
How do we know the questions users are asking? Fortunately, you’ll have a record of these questions and most often will have converted this into an FAQ section on your site – an archive of the most common queries you have. Utilize these FAQs as a wire-frame for the specific questions your users are asking.
4) Think Local
Research into voice search has uncovered that voice queries are more likely to be local in nature by a factor of three – people use voice search on the go, and for more superficial queries than text. People are looking for the best coffee near them through voice search, not researching complex differences between models of refrigerators. In order to optimize your content for voice search, you need to think local.
For local businesses, ensuring the information across your site is both accurate and locally-linked, including the district of town you’re situated in, is vital to ensuring voice-searchers get the best content delivered to them.
5) Integrating A Model Of Micro Moments Into Your Website Design
The concept of micro-moments is helpful in designing a powerful user experience across your website. These micro-moments are the split-seconds where users need specific information or access to action, and across any user experience there’s likely to be two or three micro-moments that are make-or-break for your site.
Ensuring your website is optimized for these micro-moments, with immediate solutions to customer problems and a site that works seamlessly on mobile, will encourage Google to boost your site up the rankings. For voice-search, these micro-moments depend on hyper-specific answers to user queries and an understanding of the way users think.
The world of SEO moves fast and keeping pace with your users expectations in content is vital to the success of your site. As many as half of web users will be using voice assistants for searches in 2020 and we can expect this trend to grow in 2021. Finding out as much about your users as you can will enable you to cultivate content around localized expectations and specific expressions. Ok Google?
Lauren Groff is a writer and editor at Best Essay Services and Assignment Writing Services Reviews. As a business development manager, she has overseen many project communication initiatives nationwide. She is a tutor at Essay Services.