Whether it’s Siri, Cortana, Amazon Echo, or Google Search by Voice/Assistant, users everywhere are flocking to services that free up their hands and speed up their searches.
So what does the rise of voice search mean for product marketers?
Well, first of all you need to reconsider everything you thought you knew about search engine optimization.
Traditionally, search queries are written in ‘computer speak’, like ‘denim jeans’ or ‘budget laptop’. Over time people started optimizing for long-tail keywords for more specific searches, such as ‘buy denim jeans on sale’ or ‘best budget laptop for students’.
This type of search lead to a jumbled mess of unnatural word combinations based on how close their original search got them.
A query like “nike shoes” would turn into “nike shoes running blue sale size 8” as things progressed.
Voice search on the other hand hinges on natural language and whole sentences.
Even including long-tail keywords is not enough to start bringing in traffic from voice searches. They are much more likely to be longer and include question words, since most people make queries the same way they would if they were talking to a friend. For example, ‘what jeans are appropriate for work?’ or ‘where can i buy work appropriate jeans near me?”
If you’re not sure how to form these questions, check out awesome resources like AnswerThePublic to get some ideas of frequent searches. This will give you a bunch of beautifully displayed graphics full of information to help you get started. Not only will it give you full questions, it will also provide other search phrases containing prepositions and comparisons.
Keep in mind that many of the searches will not be as high frequency as the typical keyword searches targeted by SEO experts.
But that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.
People who make voice queries often do so when they want quick results, and if you can get that coveted first spot, you’ll see an increase in traffic and sales.
The best answers to any question are often featured in Google’s ‘snippet’, which often is read aloud to users. If your brand or product name isn’t readable by these automated services, that can create a problem both for searching and reading results. If it isn’t already too late, pick a name that’s easy for automated services to understand, though hopefully we will get to a place where voice assistants are able to pick up nuances of natural language.
How do you optimize your product page for Google’s Featured Snippets?
First of all, use the research you’ve done previously and be sure to include question words in your content. And obviously, answer that question better than everyone else, preferably in a single concise paragraph — around 45 words is the sweet spot.
If your content is a top ten list, comparison, or price list, make sure it’s formatted in a Google-friendly table.
That said, don’t expect to become a featured snippet overnight.
Although they aren’t always the first or even more reputable result (see above), the page always ranks in the top 10, so it’s best to start with queries that you’re already ranking well in.
If you’re targeting fairly low frequency searches, however, it can be much easier to attain those top spots. Do your research, pick several to try out, and see what sticks.
Another possibility is optimizing your pages to questions that are currently leading people to your pages. This can be easily checked from the Google Search Console, and might also give you some ideas for other queries you could optimize for.
How do you integrate questions into product pages?
Ok, so you’ve got your questions, but how in the world are you going to work them into your descriptions?
The easiest and most intuitive way is by adding a frequently asked questions section (duh). Make sure you cover all of the questions that might lead someone to your product, as well as questions about your product for those who got there on their own.
But while that might give you a boost in traffic, it’s unlikely to net you a featured snippet.
If that’s your goal, you’ll need to create separate pages for commonly searched questions. You can even include several related questions on the same page.
Again, make sure that your answers are snippet-friendly. That means a concise paragraph or well formatted table. Check out this page from The Adventure Junkies that landed them this snippet:
It might seem counterintuitive to lead people to articles or posts rather than your product pages, but it can actually provide a good opportunity to really sell your products. When your products are literally the answer to someone’s questions, it should be an easy sell.
To sum things up, here are five simple tips to optimize your products for voice search:
- Most voice searches are performed on mobile devices, so make sure your site is mobile friendly.
- Write for natural speech patterns rather than keywords. Gone are the days of cramming in as many keywords as possible.
- Make sure your brand and product names are pronounceable and understandable by voice assistants.
- Find out what questions your customers are asking or pick a few questions you can conceivably rank for.
- Create additional content catered toward answering commonly searched questions in concise paragraphs or well formatted tables.
So what it all comes down to is listening to your customers, and providing answers to the questions they have before they even ask them. With a little practice, it will become second nature.