It turns out that SEO best practices aren’t just dictated by Google updates. The introduction of new AI software and smart home hardware can also play a major role in how web users interact with their search requests.
Any well-reviewed SEO agency or professional who’s able to be proactive about their need to incorporate voice SEO into their standard strategy development procedures is likely to deliver immense results to their clients, as they’ll be getting in on the ground floor.
With convenience becoming an increasingly important element in the development of digital channels and processes across the globe, methods for voice search optimization are being forged and established by digital marketing professionals and organizations alike.
Coupled with the widespread incorporation of virtual assistants into smart home tech, mobile phones, and other personal devices, it seems as though voice SEO is on the road to becoming a fixture in the world of SEO marketing.
The main element that’s holding voice SEO back from being a popular practice, is simply that many agencies specializing in SEO either aren’t aware of the major benefits of this practice or aren’t clear on how best to implement voice SEO into their existing SEO strategies.
These new, dynamic channels for conducting voice searches are valuable tools that won’t just help you understand what voice search is, but may also help you to propel your brand or organization to either a local, national or even global stage. The limits are largely dependent on how well-rounded your voice SEO strategy tends to be.
The question here is how do you go about putting together a voice SEO strategy that will be sure to deliver results? The answer is actually quite simple and can be achieved with some basic considerations, which we’ve outlined below.
Table of Contents
The building blocks for a well-rounded voice SEO strategy
1. Know your audience
The golden rule of any digital marketing campaign or strategy is to know who your target demographic is and how best you can reach them. Your content won’t have an impact if it’s not geared toward your target audience and their behavior.
This rings especially true in the case of voice SEO, as search queries are likely to be incredibly specific.
You should try and ascertain the questions that your target audience is most likely to ask regarding your product or service or any area of interest that is related to your client or agency.
These questions are often quite simple or functional, so don’t wrack your brain too much. Overthinking may be counterproductive to your efforts here.
Let’s say you’re looking to craft an SEO strategy for a tech retailer who’s looking to push their home office stock, including laptops and monitors.
The target demographic for this store can be said to be quite broad. In this day and age, virtually everyone will need personal tech, so there are ways you can market this client online to a wide number of consumers.
The target demographic of the campaign, however, can be more specific to just students and professionals who are looking to put together a study or home office space. Technical questions regarding this home office set-up are likely to go through Google every day.
A good keyword phrase that targets not just ‘home office’, but maybe also ‘monitor’ and ‘computer’ or ‘laptop’, is ‘how can I set up dual monitors’. You can then craft content that is a direct response to this query.
Use your selected SEO tool to start putting together a list of keywords that are likely to go through voice search specifically. This list can then be used to put together the finer points of your ongoing holistic SEO strategy.
2. Target long-tail keyword phrases
Naturally, as most voice search results are conducted where your user is likely to be hands-free, the more specific your keywords, the more likely you are to rank highly or even rank #1 on results generated by Google Assistant.
You may notice in the example provided about our tech retailer looking to promote their home office goods; we targeted a keyword phrase in the form of a question rather than a single keyword.
Targeting long-tail keyword phrases is key to ensuring your voice SEO strategy is actually optimized for voice search, simply because device users are more likely to ask their AI voice assistant a direct question rather than relaying a robotic keyword or two in an attempt to generate specific results.
That, and device users actually interact quite differently with voice search than they do with their text search.
Of the four types of search intent that a device user can demonstrate when making a search query, informational and transactional intents are likely to reign supreme.
Whilst informational intent on voice search may only cover basic questions like ‘how hot is the sun?’, there is still every chance that a member of your target audience may ask a question that you have written content for.
Yes, this is bleeding back into tip #1, but as this is an interconnected process, you should also aim to ensure your voice SEO strategy is equally thorough and interconnected.
The fantastic thing about voice search that cannot be forgotten when developing your holistic SEO strategy can be found in the first paragraph of this second tip: people are likely going to be hands-free when interacting with their AI voice assistant.
Users who are hands-free are most likely to practice transactional or location-based search intents. In fact, aside from instructional, smart home-based commands, the most commonly used commands given to Google Assistant tend to be regarding location-based activities (i.e. ‘where’s a good place to eat?’, ‘where’s my nearest petrol station?’, ‘where’s a good daycare center around here?’).
This means that if you’re a brick-and-mortar retail or hospitality enterprise that’s looking to generate more local interest in your business, optimizing your SEO content to rank highly in voice search is likely to provide particularly strong results.
You can achieve this by ensuring that your business is well-represented on Google maps for starters, as well as making sure that your web content has been put together with respect to location-based keywords and keyword phrases.
Regardless of whether your keywords are targeting informational or transactional search intents, you should always aim to conduct your voice SEO as though your target audience will be hands-free, simply to ensure that your voice SEO optimized content will adequately cater to the specific needs of the searcher, thus ensuring that your answer will be both the first and last answer they need.
3. Optimise with the intention of becoming a featured snippet on SERPs
When it comes to developing your voice SEO strategy, that age-old adage ‘go big or go home’ is honestly more applicable than you may think possible.
Drawing off from this last point of aiming to be the first and last search result for every user, it goes without saying that the list of results generated from voice searches is going to be a lot smaller than the pages and pages that users are able to obtain from even the simplest text search.
Naturally, this means that your opportunities to rank highly are rather limited when it comes to voice search, so you shouldn’t be afraid to dream big when it comes to developing your voice SEO strategy.
All voice SEO strategies should essentially aim to become a featured snippet or rich answer on SERPs. Naturally, this is a highly competitive feat to try and accomplish, but with the right SEO strategy in place, it’s quite achievable.
After ensuring that your website is as accessible as it can be and that your on-site content is fully optimized for SEO, the key to becoming a featured snippet lies in finding the search query that’s most likely to get you there.
Finding the perfect long-tail keyword phrase may take a bit of research, which will include conducting searches yourself in order to see what’s currently a featured snippet or included in Google’s knowledge panel.
If there are any search results that you feel you’ll be able to compete for, you can basically plan your whole SEO strategy around this search result and the keywords associated with it.
Of course, keyword-rich content alone won’t get you to a high enough standard to have a shot at becoming a featured snippet. The content itself has to be valuable enough to generate consistently high organic traffic.
As stated earlier, the best way your optimized content can hope to please is by being a direct answer to a specific search query.
If you’re successful and your content can be found on Google as a featured snippet, then nine times out of ten, people are likely to click on your content first, which means that your chances of losing your position as a rich answer are little to none.
It is, however, possible for competitors to steal this coveted position from you, so be sure to revisit this content and keep it up-to-date consistently. Even something as simple as making edits and changing any date of publication can ensure that your content doesn’t fall at risk of being deemed outdated and thus not reputable enough to be a featured result on SERPs.
4. Craft conversational content
To reiterate a point made earlier, our interactions with voice search tools have been proven to be quite distinct from our interactions with traditional text search channels.
In essence, you’re less likely to type out a full question to Google, but when you’re speaking to Google Assistant, you’ll be more likely to speak in full sentences rather than recite keywords in a robotic manner.
Whilst any SEO content that you produce should aim to be as direct and relevant to its targeted keywords as possible, it’s been said that conversational content – or content that matches the conversational tone of the device user – is likely to rank higher in results generated by Google Assistant as opposed to more analytical, figure-driven content.
Prior to the emergence of voice search technology, meandering, conversational content was less likely to rank highly on search results, as search engines were geared towards finding direct answers to direct questions.
Since the emergence of AI assistant software, however, there’s been a growing push towards AI assistants being as natural to use as possible, with the importance of natural dialogue being expressed by both software developers and users alike.
If you’re uncertain about how best to approach the task of crafting conversational content, it’s well worth taking some time to put the keywords or keyword phrases you’re looking to target into Google, and engage with the existing search results.
Be sure to read through all the top results so that you can get a gauge on exactly what your target audience deems to be valuable content, and do your best to not just work along these same lines, but also to innovate. Brainstorm how you can provide added value.
A good starting point here can be adding deeper contexts to your SEO content, kind of in a similar fashion to anecdotes that preface recipes on homemaker blogs. Adding deeper contexts to your SEO content isn’t just a perfect method of optimizing for voice search, however.
Being personable in long-form content greatly increases the potential for your content to be laden with valuable keywords that your site may already be ranking for, or may be related to your existing content in an auxiliary fashion.
Let’s keep using the example of a recipe on a homemaker blog here. If you were publishing a recipe for gingerbread biscuits, and that recipe was prefaced with a story about your family Christmases growing up, then that content won’t just rank highly if somebody were to search up ‘gingerbread biscuit recipe’, but also ‘Christmas gingerbread biscuits’, or ‘baking with the family for Christmas’, or a myriad of other keywords related to the food but also to that activity and potentially even the event.
The conversational tone of the preface followed by the direct instructions found in the recipe will ensure that that recipe ranks highly as a voice search result.
5. Utilise the power of schema markup
Of course, if your client or agency can’t really get away with using a conversational tone for your content, then you’ll want to ensure that the data behind your content is structured in a fashion that clearly dictates to Google’s crawlers exactly what your SEO content is all about.
This structured data is also known as schema markup. Schema markups are basically used to help categorize your content so that Google knows exactly what it’s looking at.
With the example of the gingerbread biscuit recipe, the owner of that blog may decide to categorize that post as a ‘recipe’, so that when a device user asks their AI assistant for a ‘recipe’, your content will be likely to come up as a definitive result here, because Google has knowingly provided the searcher with results that are categorically described as ‘recipes’.
In the example of the tech retailer looking to promote a piece of content on putting together a dual display set-up for your home office, the owner of that site can categorize that content as an ‘article’ or ‘guide’, which innately ensures that your content has a higher chance of ranking for a ‘how to…’ or informational search request.
Schema markups also greatly increase the chances of your SEO content becoming featured snippets or rich answer results, as the clearly defined categories make your content easier for Google to organize and thus, prioritize it as a result that can be found on its first few pages.
Why voice search optimization is worth the effort
When all of these strategies are used in tandem, your client or agency will be likely to experience some strong results when it comes to ranking highly in voice searches.
As the technology surrounding voice search and AI assistants is still experiencing huge levels of growth and development with every passing day, this emerging channel for SEO should not be skipped out on by any forward-thinking SEO professionals or agencies.
In fact, it’s likely that any SEO agencies who are able to integrate voice SEO into their established SEO strategy development process at this early stage, will likely experience impeccably strong results that may be able to be maintained for years to come as voice SEO tools continue to develop.
The last piece of advice that we’ll leave you with is that no matter what you do, it’s imperative that you always strive to create content of high value and quality.
The only element of SEO that is guaranteed to stand the test of time and not fall victim to sporadic and unpredictable Google updates, is high-quality content.
So long as your content is of consistently high quality, you’ll be likely to maintain similarly high levels of organic traffic, which means your ranking on both text SERPs and voice search results, will be able to rise passively and with minimal prolonged efforts on your part.
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