Last week we began to explore best practices for SEO for Voice Interfaces. As voice interfaces proliferate and user adoption continues to increase, this topic will become exceedingly important for brands looking to engage with customers as they search with speech. If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here. Here we continue with tips for increasing your discoverability when intelligent agents search online after a voice query.
4. Check your long-tail inbound searches
Currently, there doesn’t appear to be an easy answer for tracking searches that come in through voice search. With smart speakers, the device is operating via search engine so will not ping your web analytics via a site visit by the user. With mobile voice, the search will appear as a mobile visit if the user clicks further than the initially provided answer. In the latter case, it will likely appear as a longer-than-average inbound search term, and often in the form of a question (“What is…”) or command (“Tell me…”).
Explore long tail inbound searches in your analytics that use conversational phrases and occurred on mobile to start determining how customers are beginning to discover you through voice searches. Because voice search is still in its infancy, these nuggets may be few and far between, but will help provide insight into how your customers are beginning to discover you through this type of journey.
5. Listen to your call center
One of the fabled promises of intelligent assistants is that they’ll take on many of the roles that human assistants do. So in addition to looking at what customers are asking online through your SEO tools, which you’re no doubt already doing, listen to your call center.
When customers are calling in, what are the most frequent questions they’re asking? Are the answers to these questions easily discoverable online? If customers are calling for the answers, chances are they might not be. This will help inform the kinds of questions that, while they may not be asking their virtual assistant now, they may in the future as users begin to rely on the interface format more and more.
6. Fall in love with FAQ's and explainer blog posts
Who, what, when, where, why, and how make up a considerable number of search queries. “How” accounts for 3.6% of voice queries, while “What” accounts for 3.5%, according to Jennifer Slegg.
To answer these questions, create short, one-paragraph answers in FAQ’s or explainer blog posts at around 29 words for each topic and keep them informative instead of “salesy”.
There is debate around whether individual pages are better than a single large FAQ, but in research by Backlinkio, they found in 10,000 test searches that content was typically being extracted from pages with around 2300 words. An ideal approach would be to group topics with common keywords into their own FAQ-style query pages, rather than trying to “boil the ocean” with a single catch-all page.
7. Aim for Snippets
In Backlinko’s research, 40.7% of voice search responses on Google Home came from what used to be termed Rich Answers, and now termed the Featured Snippet. On mobile these are visible and are considered “position zero” as they appear above the #1 ranking in the search result. Most featured snippets come from the top results. Ahref’s notes that 99.58% of the snippets are pulled from top 10 SERPs for the query. Featured Snippets often appear in the form of the answer to a question and highlight a brief answer while sourcing the origin of the content.
The answer spoken by the speaker or presented by the mobile agent might be something like this: “According to SMITH.co, optimizing for featured snippets is one of the most powerful approaches for becoming discoverable through voice search.”
Snippets come in four flavors: paragraphs, lists (i.e. recipes), tables (i.e. destination distances), and videos. Paragraph snippets occur by far the most frequently, comprising about 82% of results.[i]
Neil Patel notes, “there’s no exact formula for earning a featured snippet” and describes how to earn yourself one of these highly desirable spots in his post here. You can also read more about how to earn your place in “position zero” on Search Engine Land.
8. Think Local
Searches are determined partly by location (as well as search history), and with brick and mortar businesses it’s critical that your information including address, hours, and business category has been updated in search engines. While this is of obvious importance in standard SEO, it’s also critical in voice for customers looking for “just-in-time” information while they speak to their phone while driving or are checking when the grocery store closes via smart speaker as they’re on the way out the door.
While voice interfaces are proliferating everywhere, voice search optimization is very much in its infancy. Try focusing on optimizing a single topic that your site ranks highly for over time, and apply your learnings to the rest of your content afterwards.
At SMITH, experimentation with the elements of future commerce for better customer outcomes is one of our passions. If you’re interested in exploring the future of voice further, download our Guide to Conversational Commerce here or reach out for a real life conversation with our team.