Voice Search: A New Way to Optimise Your Content

It's time to start recognising voice search, and you can begin by optimising your online content.

Search engine optimisation: it’s likely been on your radar for a long time now. And, like most other businesses, you’ve probably invested a lot of time and effort in implementing SEO best practice in all your online copy.

The story of SEO ‘officially’ began in 1997, and in the intervening years, things have changed: we’ve made great strides in technology, we’ve seen mobile phones become handheld computers, and the way we search has changed.

The good news is, search engine optimisation is still important. The resources you’ve invested haven’t gone to waste. However, with the invention of voice search, the goalposts have been moved. You can no longer just rely on lacing your content with keywords. Instead, you have to adapt to the behaviours and tendencies of consumers using mobile devices to search for products and services.

The Emergence of Voice Search

As far back as 2016, ComScore predicted that, by 2020, 50% of all searches would be voice searches. Did that prophecy come true? Well, in 2019, an Adobe survey found that 48% of people used a voice assistant for “general web searches”.

Voice search may not account for 50% of all searches just yet, but they are taking place at a rate that demands your attention. In January 2018, there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month, and Google reports that 27% of the online global population is using voice search on mobile.

If you think those numbers are big, wait until you see the financial implications.

Let’s start with a headliner. In 2018, it was reported that voice commerce accounted for $2 billion of sales. That number is predicted to rocket to $40 billion by 2022. These staggering voice search statistics are backed up by research into user behaviour. It’s reported that 62% of people who regularly use their voice-activated speakers are likely to buy something through the device, and that 44% of people who use voice-activated speakers on a weekly basis do order products using their device.

There’s no getting away from it, your company absolutely must consider voice search when writing new content or adjusting existing copy. Voice searchers already represent such an enormous audience that you simply can’t ignore it.

How to Optimise Content for Voice Search

So, now we’ve shown you why you need to be taking voice search into account, it’s time to explain how to optimise your content for voice search. Here are just a few ways you can make your content and online presence more voice search friendly.

Use Natural Language

The first thing to think about is the language being used in voice searches, and how it is different from the terms and phrases people enter into search engines. Voice searches are conducted using natural language, as the user is addressing the device and often asking it a question. For example, you might ask a device “what is the best Italian restaurant in London?”

In contrast, search engine queries involve much more broken language, with users entering keywords rather than full sentences. In the example used above, when using a search engine, you might type ‘best Italian restaurant London’.

In your online copy, wherever possible, provide direct answers to specific questions that you think your target market is likely to ask. Focus on the names of your products — both their brand name and the type of product they are — and the problems they solve.

As an example, if your product is a plunger, called Professor Plunge (*checks registered trademarks*), and it’s great for unblocking sinks, your content might read something like:

You can unblock a sink in seconds with Professor Plunge, our hard-wearing plunger.

In doing so, your content would be optimised for searches such as “what is Professor Plunge?”, “I need a plunger to unblock my sink”, and “how do you unblock a sink?”

Place More Emphasis on Long-Tail Keywords

While you were optimising your website content for search engines, you probably came across short- and long-tail keywords. Most SEO experts suggest using a combination of both to improve your results, and we agree.

But, to optimise your content for voice search, you should consider increasing your emphasis on long-tail keywords. Why? It’s directly related to the point above.

The broken phrases that are common in traditional search queries mean shorter keywords are effective. But when the searcher is speaking aloud, their query is more detailed. As you write your copy, remember to answer those questions directly using natural language and keyword phrases rather than keywords.

Update Your GMB Listing and Contact Details

Voice search is often used to carry out local searches, especially for static businesses, such as restaurants, shops, and offices. In 2019, Google reported that “near me” searches grew more than 130% year on year.

Your Google My Business (GMB) listing defines your physical location, and is used by the search engine to determine whether your company is a match for searches that include phrases such as “local” or “near me”. Ensuring its accuracy is crucial to being returned as a result to location-based searches.

It’s equally important for the contact details and opening times on your website and GMB listing to be accurate and up to date. When returning voice search results, Google displays your distance from the searcher, your address, your opening times, and an option to call your business. If any of this information is incorrect, you could be missing out on sales.

Start Optimising Your Content for Voice Search Today

Though voice search is now a decade old, it’s not yet common for businesses to make their content voice search friendly. It is, however, a big part of the future of content marketing, which we wrote more about recently.

Optimising your content for voice search involves many different elements, but if your business gets it right, you could gain a serious advantage over your competitors.

If you’d like to find out more about taking advantage of voice search, we’d love to have a chat, so get in touch with the Prize Content team today.

Published by Dan Grey

Content Writer

Producing quality content and effective communications that help SMEs thrive.