Voice Search Optimization: What Alexa Isn’t Telling You

Some of last year’s hottest Christmas gifts—the Amazon Echo, Google Home and the iPhone X—are changing the landscape of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as we know it.

More than 43 million American adults have a smart speaker with a digital assistant—Alexa, Bixby, Cortana, Google Assistant or Siri—in their household. With these voice search enabled devices, accessing information and finding answers to your questions has never been easier.

Voice search enables you to speak your search query rather than type it to access information via search engines. With a simple voice command and a voice-enabled smart speaker, you can check the weather, hear the latest news or find out what restaurants are nearby.

While a traditional typed search query returns a list of results to you, voice search queries, through a digital assistant, will typically only read back the one result determined to be most relevant to your inquiry by the search engine’s algorithm. In a world where it is estimated that 50% of all queries will be conducted through voice search within the next two years, how can you ensure your site doesn’t miss out on traffic from voice search queries?

It’s time to audit your SEO strategy.

There are several different factors that search engines look for when indexing content for voice search results versus ranking on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Here are a few things to consider to make sure your content is seen and heard:

  • Be more conversational. Make sure your content sounds natural when read aloud. It is unlikely that web content will be indexed for voice searches if it cannot be read aloud and still make sense. Voice search queries often come in the form of a question, so focus your content on answering the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and “how.”
  • Include long-tail keywords. Voice search queries are more conversational and often longer in form. Incorporating long-tail keywords will improve your chances of ranking for these queries.
  • Keep it short and concise. There’s less time and fewer opportunities to make an impression for a voice search. Search engines typically scan the title and first paragraph of a page.
  • Audit your page speed. Voice search is meant to be a faster and more convenient way to get information. Landing pages that have a quicker load time are more likely to be returned for a voice search result because it’s a shorter interaction.
  • Don’t rely on visual references. While mobile devices and the Amazon Echo Show have screens, most virtual assistants respond to search queries solely through voice. Data tables, graphs or pages of links are also unhelpful when it comes to voice search results.
  • Revisit your paid SEO strategy. While there isn’t a way to buy voice search ads (yet), pay-per-click (PPC) results can still be retrieved when voice search feeds back SERPs for a query.

Voice-enabled search is driving a revolution in the way search engines index and present results. Beyond search, digital assistants are now allowing organizations and users to build custom commands for voice-enabled digital assistants, like Actions on Google or Alexa Skills. (Hungry? Amazon’s Echo has a custom skill that allows you to order Domino’s without lifting a finger.)

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to drive more traffic to your website by optimizing for voice search—who knows what next Christmas will bring?

What are some of the ways you plan to incorporate voice search into your SEO strategy? Share your insights with CHIEF on TwitterLinkedIn or Facebook.

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