Get Started: Optimize Your Business for Voice Search

In the United States, almost 37% of American adults have a digital assistant, whether that be Google Home or an Amazon Echo. This technology changes the way consumers search for their everyday needs. Digital marketers have spent years decoding the best way to show up organically in search results or how to win the top shelf ad space in Google and Bing with right keywords. Now, it’s time to think about how your business will show up in voice search results. We don’t foresee web and mobile searches disappearing anytime soon, especially because of the irreplaceable visual elements of internet browsing that help aid human decision making. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the way that people search for something on their phone and laptop is quite different from how they search orally. Optimizing your brand for voice search means that your company shows up first or higher in SERPs. It also means that customer experience brand recognition and brand engagement is much higher for your business. There are many ways to go about creating a V.O. (voice optimization) strategy, but a simple framework for V.O. is a great way to orient your business for success in the future. Here’s a brief outline of key steps to take for developing a fool-proof keyword and content plan that will rank well in voice-powered SERPs.

Revamp your Content Plan with Research

When approaching the content marketing for your business (your blog, PR releases, website copy, landing pages, etc.) make sure to adopt a more conversational tone in your copy. Remember: people don’t talk the way they write (or type). Content should read like a casual conversation, but also be useful in answering the question users had when they searched for things related to your product or service. This requires putting yourself in the mindset of the consumer at that moment: What different permutations of a question could a person come up with that’s related to what your business offers? Figuring out what the customer is trying to solve and how your business can help them is important to keep in mind when crafting any copy associated with your website or mobile app. Do some research on your competitors as well—how can you be more helpful to your potential customer than them? Knowing who is in the lead can give you an idea of what is prioritized and/or favored in voice-powered search engine ranking. Ultimately, Google likes websites that have simple and succinct copy associated with their online assets. Have you noticed that when you make a Google search, a box appears at the top with a simple answer to your question? Mirror the language of that content and use it as a guide for your content marketing strategy.

Another aspect of creating content that will rank well or attract more traffic is having a broad AND deeper understanding of what your consumer needs. For example, if someone is interested in buying a bike, they could potentially also be interested in buying a helmet, shoulder pads, or bike grease, etc. This shows value in building content that addresses those needs as well.

Implement a technological framework that supports this plan

Make sure that your website and all web-based assets attached to your brand are functioning and load fast. Speed matters and there is less tolerance for slower loading speeds by the year, so make sure that all your sites are loading fast, and that search engines direct users to a secure site. One negative mobile experience is enough to turn a user off to your brand completely. According to Think with Google, nearly 62% of users are less likely to make a ‘mCommerce’ purchase from you if they have a bad experience with your mobile site. Keep your website current and mobile-friendly. Update your SEO, and maintain a consistency between your main site, microsites, and social media presence.

Another important task for V.O. optimization of your brand is marking up your content. “Marking up” content means adding tags to certain sections of code in your website that improves the SERPs ranking of your business when people do a voice search. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl your pages.

Craft the right brand persona

Perfecting your brand persona means asking important questions, like if your brand had a voice, how would it sound? What would it say? And the most importantly, how would that be expressed through a Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. device.? This is an important question to think about answering, especially after completing competitor research. You need to have a unique selling point or at least more adequately address the voice searcher’s immediate needs than your competitors. Part of your brand persona may be reflected in how consumers already perceive you, so incorporate high ratings and reviews as a site link in the organic listing or paid advertisement of your business. Make sure that the copy from your website landing page and organic SERP listing of your business match your brand persona. Having a disjointed brand message can harm your likelihood of attracting the right consumers who will convert.

Voice optimization strategy is a continuous process that requires monthly revision and analysis. Now that consumers can search by voice at home, and on their mobile device, marketers need to perform their everyday marketing duties in addition to data management at scale. Your business changes, restructures, moves, and expands every day, so make sure that your data is constantly updated so that your target consumers can find you at any time, anywhere. The more your business grows, the more work there is to be done to optimize for voice search. KATANA recommends marketers to start implementing V.O. for their business today. While initially a daunting task, it will set your business up for the future when digital assistants become a more dominant method for consumers to find what they need.

Also published on Medium.