The internet's vast hoard of limitless knowledge is no longer sitting at the world's fingertips; rather, it has moved to the world's lips instead. Today's users are flocking to voice searches in increasing numbers, and to take advantage of this trend, Actual SEO Media, Inc. recommends that advertising agencies improve their voice SEO techniques.

Defining Voice SEO and Its Purpose

According to TechTarget's Internet technologies dictionary, voice SEO is defined as "the optimization of keywords and keyword phrases for searches using voice assistants."

Common voice assistants include Siri from Apple, Cortana from Microsoft, Alexa from Amazon, and Google Assistant from Google. These digital helpers live inside common technology such as mobile devices and smart speakers, awaiting their respective trigger phrases to begin answering queries.

Many voice searches are used for finding directions or learning about local businesses. Instead of spending time typing "pizza places near me" via a tiny on-screen keyboard, a user can simply say aloud, "Okay Google, tell me about nearby pizza joints." A user can easily find out several important details about a business, like its operating hours, its average customer ratings, and even its menu.

Research has shown that most smart speaker owners have admitted they would be reluctant to return to a pre-voice assistant era. Users can't imagine a world without Siri to tell them the weather, Alexa to crack a joke, or Google Assistant to tell them where the nearest Chinese restaurant is. Even mobile device users who don't own smart speakers are relying on voice assistant technology and searches at an increased rate. Actual SEO Media, Inc. strongly advocates following the growing trend to take advantage of its many perks for customers and businesses alike.

Conversations with a Search Engine

Most modern voice searches are based on conversational speech patterns. Users are more likely to approach a voice search with queries that sound like normal dialogue rather than short, awkward phrases shoved together. For example, someone typing a search term on their phone might enter, "affordable cleaning service hardwood floors." To achieve a similar result, someone consulting their voice assistant would likely say, "Show me a cheap business nearby that can clean hardwood floors."

Voice searches capitalize on long-tail keyword phrases. By using long-tails to cater to separate groups on different scales, a company can make roughly the same profit from the low-demand items as they do from the high-demand products. From a keyword search perspective, a search term like "furniture" would have several hits, but the results would not be very specific.

Conversely, a longer, more precise keyword phrase like "orange midmod wooden swivel chair" would have fewer results. However, the amount of people who find exactly what they're looking for from such a specific keyword is greater than the number of users who enter a vague, short search query and end up not making a purchase.

Long-tail keyword phrases often use typical human speech patterns and sound more like natural language than most search terms that are typed instead of spoken. In the example mentioned earlier, someone looking for a floor-cleaning service would probably type a short phrase into their search engine of choice using as few words as possible to convey their query. Someone using a voice search is more likely to use a long-tail keyword that comes from speaking naturally.

Despite their highly-specific nature (and the difficulty of nailing down the exact wording), long-tail keyword phrases actually produce a greater return on investment. This is because they cater to such a niche market, reaching out to users who are much closer to point of purchase than others. Their PPC advertisements also tend to be cheaper due to fewer competitors for such specific queries.

The Speakable Schema is Here to Raise Voices

Google and collaborated on a unique markup known as "speakable" to allow Google Assistant to read aloud marked content on web pages. It functions as a text-to-speech tailored to search engines, allowing them to highlight the most important details of a page.

When used to focus on key points of an article, Speakable helps listeners to get a much better idea of what the page is about, whether it's a news story or a content article. A TTS program will zero-in on these key points and avoid cutting out the most pertinent details. However, some details shouldn't be marked, such as datelines, photo captions, and source attributions, since these bits of data could sound confusing in a voice-only situation.

To demonstrate how Speakable works, one can simply observe how Google Assistant handles articles with the markup. The assistant can answer topical news questions on a user's smart speaker, returning up to three articles from the web and using audio playback (in the form of TTS) to read aloud the Speakable data. After reading the marked sections, Google Assistant will then attribute the source and send the full article's URL to the user's mobile device via the Google Assistant app.

Aside from news articles, there are several other important types of information that should be marked with Speakable to improve voice searches. For example, a product item page should include the product name, price, and its availability. It's crucial to remember that most voice searches tend to be action-based, particularly more so than text searches. Users who initiate a voice search are often showing intent to act rather than simply searching for no reason. In the most basic terms, they're much closer to a point of purchase than other users, which is a valuable benefit to consider.

The Benefits of Letting Customers Speak Up

Users who take advantage of voice searches often praise the method for its speed and convenience. Not only can voice searches be performed entirely hands-free (which is invaluable in a society moving towards touchless technology), but they can also benefit users who have visual impairments and may not be able to navigate traditional search options very easily.

People who have physical disabilities such as motor or muscular issues also find voice searches much more accessible. Users with disabilities and their advocates have waged a long campaign to make the internet as accessible to as many people as possible. Though some of their efforts have progressed to the point of imposing change (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act that governs certain types of websites), voice searches are another great step forward since they cater to both disabled and non-disabled audiences.

Another important feature of voice searches and assistants is context. Different levels of context can help a user find the relevant answers they want much faster depending on how the assistant "perceives" the query. For example, a user may have a Wikipedia page open about the Eiffel Tower. If they ask Google Assistant, "Who built this?", it will interpret "this" as "Eiffel Tower" and return results about its creators. The Assistant also focuses on location data to provide relevant results.

Google's Words of Wisdom for Voice Optimization

Though Google may not reveal the secrets behind every single quirk of their search algorithms and associated schemas, they do offer advice on ways to make use of their tools, including optimization tips.

The age-old strategy of developing personas still applies to voice searches. Advertising firms should continue working to put themselves in their audience's shoes, deliberating on their search habits, their ages, and how they interact with companies, especially if said audience members have a predisposition for regular usage of voice assistants.

In this case, marketers should consider two common search engine user archetypes, namely the "typers" and "talkers." These two personalities are generally defined as such: the "typer," who uses a keyboard to manually input searches, typically doesn't mind doing extra research to find the specific result they're looking for, whereas a "talker" often wants quick , precise answers in terms they understand.

Business owners must learn to cater to both of these types and everything in between if they hope to capitalize on the best SEO practices. Both types of search engine users want answers, but the speed and delivery method of results they seek can be very different.

Another key method of reaching customers is to imagine what questions they would ask about a particular product. Google strongly recommends the usage of FAQ pages that provide contextual, relevant, and brief answers. Common questions should have both clear and concise answers as well as more detailed explanations for those who are interested.

Finally, advertising agencies should focus on keywords that relate to location-based searches. Adding more keyword phrases that include "near me" or "closest" can greatly improve their spot in voice search results. However, these keywords should focus more on mobile users than desktop users.

A Voice Strategy Scenario

An example of how a business owner could put these optimization techniques into practice uses a webpage containing a headline with a commonly-asked user question. Immediately after the headline, the question is answered or given a concise definition. The rest of the page is then used to elaborate on the topic in further detail. Those who want to learn more about the answer are free to browse the page at their leisure, but anyone who wants answers right away should be satisfied by the information at the top.

In the same vein, to cater to those who use voice searches, the short section at the beginning of the page can be marked with the Speakable schema, which also improves the page's chance of having that section turned into a featured snippet. Users with different search preferences can both get the results they want in their desired manner.

The voice of the people has spoken, and it has demanded more searching power. The team at Actual SEO Media, Inc. believes that the businesses that heed this call are the ones that will ultimately flourish.

As a leading SEO company in Houston, TX, Actual SEO Media, Inc. uses various techniques to help its clients expand their online presence. Harnessing the power of search engine optimization, the company empowers its clients to market their services more effectively and achieve greater visibility on the web. For more information, contact Actual SEO Media, Inc.'s main office at (832) 834-0661 or by email at: [email protected]

Jamin Mootz
Actual SEO Media, Inc.
+1 832-834-0661
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