Woman asking her smart device a question

“Hey, Alexa, how do I optimize my content for voice search?”

If only it was that easy! The rise of voice searches — when a user performs a search by verbally asking a question in their natural language on any smart device — is changing the marketing game. It’s taken a lot of brands by surprise, and marketers are still figuring out what it means for their content.

Why is voice search important?

Understanding how consumers use voice search and then optimizing your website for those needs can help improve your site’s ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). A higher ranking obviously means more traffic to your site and more engagement with your content. Addressing users’ voice search needs can help your brand become a thought leader — the go-to resource your customers and future customers rely on for answers to their questions.

Voice search has been called one of the biggest revolutions to hit marketing in decades. Why? Because adoption rates are skyrocketing for users for all ages. Consider these stats:

  • Smart-speaker ownership has jumped an astounding 22% in less than one year, according to a recent survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers.
  • A whopping 71% of respondents in this PwC voice search report said they would rather use their voice assistant to search for something than physically type in their queries.
  • A recent Microsoft report found that people rely on voice searches to (in order of most popular task) search for a quick fact, ask for directions, search for a business, research a product or service, make a shopping list, compare products or services, add items to a shopping cart, make a purchase, contact customer service, and provide feedback for a product/service.
  • In the U.S., 13%of households had a smart speaker in 2017 and that number is expected to rise to 55% by 2022, according to OC&C Strategy Consultants.

Voice search is a broad and complicated topic. There are hundreds of strategies to consider for your brand’s voice search efforts and a hundred different places you could start. If you’re overwhelmed about where to begin, consider these three tips to help you focus on what’s important to your users and how to optimize your content around it.

Tip 1: Aim for the featured snippet

The Google featured snippet — also known as “position zero” because Google may show it at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) — is the hottest real estate in marketing today. Ranking for a featured snippet can be extremely effective for driving users to your website and can significantly improve impressions and clicks.

Be forewarned: Becoming the featured snippet takes work. Here are five steps you can follow from our recent blog post, “How to optimize content for a Google featured snippet.”

screenshot of google featured snippet

Tip 2: Create content that provides value

This is a good tip for any content you create. Be useful. Think like the customer and anticipate their needs and questions. One way to do that is to create more tutorial/how-to content for your customers. Create step-by-step instructions with supporting videos to guide users through a project, decision, or task. Here are examples for some of the industries our agency serves: how to operate product X, how to get a small business loan, how to schedule a campus tour, how-to tips for trimming dairy cow hooves. Start with the obvious topics for your brand. Your customers should never have to go to another source to learn about your products or services.

Check out Wikihow, a site that often sits in the Google featured snippet spot, for ideas and inspiration for teaching users how to do something. Keyword research can help you identify the topics for your how-to content. Our blog post, “How to write for SEO (and humans, too!),” will help you get started with keyword research.

Tip 3: Improve your FAQ pages

Raise your hand if your website FAQ (frequently asked questions) page was one of your top content priorities during the past five years. Yeah, I didn’t think so. FAQs, which seemed old-fashioned and not very important, are now a hotbed for answering users’ voice search queries.

Don’t just answer questions about your brand; shoot to be the industry knowledge center by answering any questions a consumer might have.

A brand often cited as a FAQ best practice leader is Roto-Rooter. The plumbing and water cleanup brand organizes its FAQ questions around cluster topics, like Outdoor Plumbing, Frozen Pipes and Bathroom Plumbing. Each cluster topic has its own FAQ page with dozens of popular user questions, written in the way the user might ask them. For instance, under Bathroom Plumbing, you’ll find everything from “Bathroom Faucet Drips When the Toilet is Flushed” to “How Do I Replace My Toilet Flange?”

To identify popular questions, talk to your sales team and customer service department, and try tools like Google’s Answer Box, which is shown in search results at the top of the page.

Roto Rooter FAQ page on website

No matter what strategy you choose, your voice search efforts must be focused on your users: how they speak, what they need, and where and when they perform these searches. Pick a project and dive in because this topic isn’t going away.

“Hey, Alexa, what’s coming next for voice search technology?”

If you have a question about optimizing your content for voice search, we’d love to help you answer it. Send us an email using the “Contact Us” form at the right-hand side of the page.