Voice search has exploded in recent years, and it’s here to stay. At least 20% of all mobile searches on Google in 2018 came from voice searches, while smart speaker sales, which drive significant voice search activity, grew 95% in Q4. It has changed how consumers interact with their devices at a fundamental level, requiring a lesser level of attention while devices seamless integrate into their lives. Consumers are leveraging voice search to stock their pantries, book flights, call taxis, get recommendations and more - often in the same breath. It’s a highly impactful platform for discovery, and because smart speaker users only hear one result, as opposed to a traditional search engine results page (SERP) with dozens of results, it’s paramount to make sure your business is on top. Organic search results are served to smart speaker and device users, while device users, who increasingly use queries like “Hey, Siri…” can also receive paid ads. Below are five key steps brands should take to align their organic and paid strategies with voice search.
  1. Be the Answer Consumers tend to pose broad, top-funnel questions over voice. Google ranks voice results in part by how well they conversationally answer questions. To increase the likelihood of being the first result, write content with a mindset of authoritatively answering questions. If you’re able to, optimizing for Google’s Answer Box in SEO is your best bet; over 80% of Google Home search results were populated by it. Clearly structured, succinct lists and FAQs are most helpful.
  2. Develop a Smart Speaker App Google Actions and Alexa Skills are the magic behind the scenes that let customers interact with businesses using voice, blending seamlessly into the rest of the voice ecosystem. Consumers are experimenting with ordering products, making plans, and generally pushing the limits of their voice assistants.
  3. Button Up Your SEO Schema markup is incredibly important for SEO rankings, and given the high occurrence of organic search results showing up for voice searches it’s important to make sure this is set up correctly. Schema markup is what categorizes information, while SERPs draw on these categorizations to display things like articles, events, and products without users clicking over to the site. Voice search can, and will, use these categorizations to list results to users.
  4. Go Local 22% of voice searches are for local information, with users adding phrases like “near me,” “where is,” and “where can I,” to their queries. Structuring information on site and within paid search ads to speak to these localized searches will help capture users who are already showing high intent for products and services, and increase your likelihood of showing up during a voice query.
  5. Expand Your Keywords For paid campaigns, longtail and conversational keywords are important for capturing voice search users. Incorporate imperative terms, like “find” or “show,” or, if you have physical locations, localized phrases. Search query reports are a great way to find new keywords and see how users are already interacting with your ads through longtail queries. It’s important to have broad or broad modified match set up, too, to ensure you pick up on the nuances of search queries.

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