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#The Essentials: Q3 2020

How to Gain Visibility Across Voice and Conversational Search

The Voice revolution is here and is drastically changing how consumers are searching for information and interacting with brands.

Virtual assistants have reached a 20% adoption rate in Canada and 88% of English and French speaking Canadians are reported to use voice at least once a week. As a result, Voice Search is gaining considerable momentum and is anticipated to cause a lasting change in consumer behaviour. My opinion? I think we’ll witness the most significant shift in consumer behaviour since mobile adoption.

Looking at the evolution of Fortune 500 companies between 2000 and 2018, 52% of these companies missed the shift from desktop to mobile and never recovered from this technology change. Repeating the same mistake with Mobile and Voice would present significant consequences for brands. 

Don’t panic. There are different ways for brands to win with Voice and Conversational Assistants. In this two-part blog series, we’ll provide tactical recommendations on how to get your brand started on the right foot. In part one, we’ll explore the top 6 lowest hanging fruit to make your website content Voice Search ready.

Hey, Google! - Let’s get started

No. 1: Optimize for Position 0, AKA:  the Featured Snippet

Position 0  is the information search engines show at the very top of the search engine result pages (SERPs). SERP features are enhanced to draw user attention on the results page with a visually appealing, information-rich search results experience. This includes featured snippets, local pack, recipes, reviews, featured videos, video carousel, etc.
 

When the Conversational Assistant is asked a question, the device returns a unique response. This makes winning position 0 or the featured snippet for informational queries one of the biggest challenges with Voice Search.

To increase chances of winning position 0, it is key to have content properly marked up and surfaced. To achieve this, structured data can be used for web pages, blog posts, news articles, events, how-to’s, job postings, local businesses, organizations, persons, products, recipes, and videos. This will help your content be considered for position 0 or for the People Also Ask (PPA) section.

There are various ways of annotating your content with structured data including Microdata, Microformats, RFDa, Schema.org, Open Graph, and JSON-LD. However, Google recommends using JSON-LD for structured data whenever possible.

No.2: Optimize Content for Long-Tail Queries and Questions

Unlike typed searches, most voice searches are performed in the form of a question, using human language.
Do you have enough educational and informational content? Can you repurpose existing content pieces?
 
To optimize for long-tail queries, it is key that you examine your existing content to identify the pieces that present the most relevant and valuable information.
 
Focus should be placed on long-tail keywords and conversational language. Once you have selected high potential content pieces, we recommend the following:
 
  • Create a short answer for all questions. The sentence should include 25 to 30 words. Beyond word count, it is important to be mindful of the syllable count since it will affect the time duration of the speech.
  • Enrich your content and explore topics more in depth by integrating questions (what, where, who, when, why, how) in the title and heading of your pages. This way, users landing on your website will not only find a concise answer to their question, but also additional relevant information around that topic.

No.3: Optimize for Local Search

According to a Bright Local study, 58% of users perform a voice search to obtain information on businesses close to home. Therefore, local business listings play a critical role in allowing users to find your business when using a voice device.

  • Make sure your business name, address and phone number are consistent across all online platforms, directories and locations.
  • Consider submitting the website to directories such as Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local, Manta, ShowMeLocal, Hotfrog, Better Business Bureau and FourSquare.
 

 

No. 4: Optimize the Website Structure for a Seamless Mobile Experience 

More often than not, Voice Search happens on mobile. Solving for Voice starts with ensuring your website and content is working properly on mobile devices.

  • Make sure the website structure is optimized for a seamless mobile experience.
  • Improve page speed. The page load time is the time it takes to fully display the content. In addition to being an important ranking signal, a fast page load time offers a great experience for users. Faster pages rank and convert better. Additionally, search engines have limited resources to crawl the internet, therefore a faster page load speed means an increase in the number of pages crawled. Having more pages indexed means more ranking opportunities.
  • Consider the user experience on small screens by minimizing content, simplifying navigation, restricting user inputs, and ensuring continuity and consistency.

No.5: Identify Search Intent with Data Gathering

Understand how spoken commands and searches will differ from typed commands, for example: words to use, two-way interaction between a consumer and the device. The first step is to determine the intent behind voice searches.  What questions are being asked?  What keywords do we need?  Instead of relying on assumptions, we recommend using keyword tools to generate a list of questions about your industry and business. The more comprehensive the better.

  • Perform a keyword research You can use tools such as Answer the Public, Ahrefs, Text Optimizer and SEMrush Keyword Magic.
  • As each user is unique, there are multiple ways to say the same thing.  Identify and regroup different ways to formulate questions by expressing the same idea with alternate words.
  • You will need to cluster questions based on the theme, persona, search intent, and/or stage of the customer journey to which they refer.

 

No.6: Adopt the FAQ Page Format

Usually websites only have one FAQ page. This makes it difficult for search engines to assess the topic or keyword the page should primarily rank for. Creating topical resource pages will allow questions and answers to be hosted in a relevant fashion. A quick win is to have a dedicated page for each FAQ, with an optimized title, description, and h1.

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In part two of this blog series, we’ll go a step further and uncover the strategy to build a voice-based application that allows businesses to take advantage of the field of possibility the Voice Search revolution has to offer.