Learn more about our approach to evaluating your voice search opportunity and how we create a plan to increase your voice search presence.
What is voice search?
As smart speakers and voice assistants on mobile phones become more universal, users are finding more information by searching for it via voice. The voice ecosystem includes voice assistants: Google Home, Google Assistant (on your phone), Amazon Alexa, Siri on iPhones, Microsoft Cortana, voice activation on game systems (like Xbox), and in cars.
What most marketers don’t know is, some of these devices are powered by different companies, for example, it turns out that 45% of the devices being used for voice search today are actually powered by Bing search.
Some have different algorithms and voice search results might pull from different places.
How big is voice search?
Bigger than you think.
- 58% of online adults have used voice search before, and 33% were using it monthly in early 2019. (Voicebot.ai)
- 1 in 6 Americans owns a smart speaker (NPR and Edison Research)
- 58% of consumers have used voice search to find a local business in the past year, while 46% of people using voice search daily are searching for local businesses (2018- BrightLocal)
- Voice is starting to replace typed queries. Nearly 70% of the requests are now executed using “natural/conversational language” (Mary Meeker)
Read all about measuring voice search in this post.
How is voice search optimization (VSO) different from SEO?
Unlike traditional SEO, voice searchers ask for things differently when they use their voice. Voice searchers tend to search with complete sentences and thoughts – natural language. This is why optimizing for long-tail keywords that are using natural language should be a part of an effective voice search strategy.
Also, the voice search apps/platforms have slightly different algorithms than traditional Google desktop or mobile search. Recent research has shown that only 20% of the time the answer is pulled from the featured snippet/answered boxes (an element you optimize for in your traditional SEO program) and 33% of the time it’s pulled from the local search results or the search engine’s understanding of the topic from the data in its knowledge graph. The remainder of the time the voice device might pull an action instead of a web result (on Google) or a product listing or Skill (on Alexa).
Only the top answer is read
And unlike SEO, where ranking for anything in the top 3 will likely capture the searcher’s click, only the top answer is read out to the searcher in voice search.
Does my company need to care about voice search?
Voice search answers for your brand terms can be “taken” by your competitors.
Don’t let that be you.
Most of our clients have some sort of voice query volume coming into their site, and that percentage is expected to grow with devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home becoming mainstays in the modern home.
Check out this post about optimizing voice search with Bing.
What is voice search optimization (VSO)?
The focus of voice search optimization (VSO) is to ensure that your brand appears for voice search queries relative to your brand, products, and mission. We audit and create strategies for the following devices:
Some in the industry have taken to calling it Voice Engine Optimization (VEO), Voice Search Optimization (VSO) or Answer Engine Optimization (AEO).
The key is to have an effective keyword research strategy in place to effectively optimize your online assets.
What is our voice search strategy approach?
Here’s how we help you assess your market, and help you build a plan to improve your voice search results:
- Before we start with a voice program we help you decide what the goals would be for your voice program:
- website clicks
- brand awareness or impressions
- product sales, or
- in-store visits
2. Then we take a look at your target personas and their user journey and where voice is part of that journey.
3. We audit your overall SEO program to ensure top rankings for your target terms.
Here are the SEO best practice items that usually come up in our SEO audits: fixing crawl and indexing issues, ensuring fast mobile page load speeds, tracking voice keywords, optimizing text for Featured Snippets, and “Fraggles”. We also evaluate how well your writing fits within the Featured Snippet format and how well your leveraging other media assets: images, YouTube videos, and audio get pulled as a Featured answer if they are relevant.
4. We look at your target keywords and which are triggering voice answers or featured snippets.
By using tools like AnswerthePublic.com, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and your webmaster tools data, we develop a list of voice queries to target. Next, we audit your presence on three of the major voice platforms: Google Home, Siri, and Alexa to determine what your market opportunity looks like.
5. If you’re a local business or have local offices, we create a plan to ensure that your local information is accurate and consistent.
Our voice audit deliverable provides our clients with a sense of what the opportunity is for them to optimize for voice discovery and what steps need to be taken to get your brand to a point where you can start optimizing for that opportunity.
Here’s what we often recommend for a brand’s voice marketing plan:
- Technical SEO improvements for Google and Bing.
- Specific optimization plan and examples based on target keyword queries. Then we create an optimization plan by either filling the Google Assistant Knowledge gaps or overtake the competition with a Google action.
- Schema.org implementation and Knowledge Graph improvements — Especially FAQ, How to, Recipes, Podcasts and News which automatically create actions, and optimizing your brand’s place in the Knowledge Graph.
- Creating and establishing brand voice documentation across your marketing channels.
Why you should pick us for your voice search audit
Our principal, Katherine Watier Ong, has been focused on marketing to wearable devices since 2003 when she wrote the first study of consumer adoption of wearable computers. She’s an avid follower of the impact of voice search and has spoken at the Voice Search Summit in 2018 and 2019. She is currently providing senior SEO strategy around future consumer engagement (including voice search strategies) to two federal government agencies.
She has also been an SEO professional for over 15 years and has launched the digital marketing and SEO strategies for brands like the National Cancer Institute (Cancer.gov), Gazprom, NY State of Health, WattAgnet, HealthIT.gov, National Honey Board, RollCall.com, and American College of Cardiology.