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Tips & Tricks

Adapting Content Marketing for Voice Search and Smart Speakers

A person speaks to his phone to use voice search

With about half of Americans using voice search features every day, marketers must adapt their content for smart speakers. From TVs and wearables to smartphones and appliances, there’s a growing adoption for the ease of function that comes with a hands-free voice search.

As your team begins its work to optimize content to show up in more voice-enabled query results, you’ll need to first understand how voice search differs from text-based searches. Brush up on some highlights from this rapidly growing method of finding what you need with the help of spoken word and digital assistants.

Voice search optimization explained

Virtual assistants (VAs) — such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa — are AI-powered tools that allow users to vocalize their search requests. As marketers, your goal is normally to be “discovered” by search engines to show up in the search results. But with voice search, your goal is to be found, selected, and read aloud by these voice-search assistants when helping a human with their query.

Unlike traditional typed searches, which tend to be fragmented to get to the point quickly (“plumbers near me”), voice searches are normally phrased in complete sentences (“Siri, find an after-hours plumber with free estimates.”) By mimicking this more conversational style in your content, you’ll improve your chances of turning up in the results and being selected as a verbal response from the VA.

Improving your Voice Search Optimization 

Ready to improve your content? Check out these techniques.

  1. Choose the right keywords

Because voice searches are often presented in the form of a question, you’ll want to research phrases that include “who,” “what,” “where,” ‘when,” “why,” and “how.” Once you know the more popular wording for your industry’s queries, you can add those phrases to your content.

Do the same with long-tail keywords—more specific phrases that usually indicate the consumer is closer to making a purchase. These tend to be clumped in at least three-word phrases, such as “Why is my dog scratching his ear?” or “How can I get a wine stain out of the carpet?”

Remember, your phrases should be conversational, not formal. Most people will ask, “Where can I get an oil change near me?” not “List vehicle service providers in my area.”

  1. Beef up your SERP features

What’s your target audience finding when they use a search engine to ask questions related to your industry, the products you sell, or the solutions you provide? 

If you do a quick search yourself, you’ll likely see a variety of additional elements in addition to the standard links. 

These elements, called search engine results pages (SERP) features, include things like:

  • Knowledge Panel: customer reviews or ratings for a product or service
  • Image Pack: clickable images that bring up the website, icon, image, and title 
  • Local Pack: a map with local business listings
  • People Also Ask (PAA): clickable question with an answer provided
  • News Box: stories related to the query
  • Rich Snippets: organic listings with additional information, such as product prices

It’s worth noting that voice assistants use different search engines, so at a minimum, you’ll want to analyze the results of Google and Bing.

  1. Optimize your website

Experienced content marketers know how vital it is to use SEO to optimize your website for mobile, page speed, security, and responsive design. But optimizing your site’s pages for voice search is also pivotal. 

Start with a content audit to look for opportunities to improve voice search keywords and phrases. Plenty of AI-powered tools can systemize the process, scoring each piece of content for performance with a variety of filters, such as title, length, tags, type, and even customer journey stages. You can even get recommendations for how to improve the impact of each piece of content.

Once you know where to optimize your website’s content for voice search keywords, you can improve your keywords to align with their popularity and natural language, add an FAQ to mimic conversational questions, and add structured data.

Structured data, or “schema markup”, is code that helps search engines characterize and categorize your content. If you’re not familiar with it, check out Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper or Microsoft Bing’s page on marking up your site

  1. Lean into localization

Ideally, local SEO is designed to bring more traffic to your nearest brick-and-mortar location, but it’s also about increasing visibility and brand awareness. Just imagine asking a smart device, “How can I repair a tear on a leather couch?” only to have it share a response from your local upholstery shop’s FAQ. You may not even have known there was a local upholstery store — or they do in-home repairs. 

Because voice assistants often pull from local directories like Yelp and Google Business Profile, ensure that you’ve created and optimized your company’s profiles to increase your chances of being discovered and read aloud. This includes using local keywords or phrases, such as neighborhoods, towns, shopping plaza names, and regional nicknames. 

As you aim to adapt your content marketing efforts to gain increased exposure with voice searches, it’s not enough to implement these tips. You’ll need to analyze and adjust your tactics regularly by learning from the results. Even small changes can make a significant difference to your bottom line as more consumers discover the convenience and helpfulness of voice searches.