How to optimize your content for voice search for Google, Siri, Alexa (VSO)

How to optimize your content for voice search for Google, Siri, Alexa (VSO)

2019 will be the year that VSO makes a giant leap in search traffic, as voice search is taking over the search engines on many platforms including Google, Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, etc..., how are you or your clients tuning or rewriting or tuning your content to fit with the new narrative?

We invited experts Bethanie, Kent, Mike and Gary to share their tips and tricks.

Bethanie Nonami from Bethanie Nonami, Tampa, FL writes

*Think beyond demographics *

When optimizing for voice, you have to think well beyond demographics. 
Avatars and demographics have served us marketers well for many years, but it
is time to move on. We need to make a shift to thinking about our website
visitors in terms of intent. What is the problem they are trying to solve
? If you are the answer to solving that problem, think about how the 
question would be phrased in a natural (speakable) way. This is similar to 
long tail keywords. 10 years ago, we would search for dry cleaners. Today, 
one may search for dry cleaners that doesn't use chemicals. My neighbor may 
search for dry cleaners near me open at 8pm. Two people have the same 
problem of needing to find a dry cleaner but their intent and preferences 
vary. Some of your knowledge of your avatar may come in handy when 
narrowing in on intent. Consumer behavior is rapidly changing in search so 
that they receive the right answer faster, without having to click on 
multiple blue links on page 1. Intent appears differently based on, not 
only the consumers preferences, but also their level of awareness of the 
problem and potential solutions. Using your content to fulfill intent is a 
powerful advantage, when properly understood, in the online and voice 
search realm.

*Understand the buying journey is complex*

The customer's buying journey is far from a linear path. Customer journey's today
may have multiple or even hundreds of touchpoints. Google has talked about
micro-moments for a couple of years. Google wants the content to be there,
be useful, and be quick. (Google guide on micromoments) 
To make your content effective, it will serve the right insight at the right
moment. In order to do that well, you must validate the major touchpoints
in the customer journey. Making assumptions about this process is
risky. Any assumptions you have about your customer's journey should be validated with real people. You can validate this process with existing customers,
new customers, or better yet, people that didn't buy your 
products. Validate what content do your prospects need to see or hear 
before they know your brand is right for them. Do you have the content? 
Is it appearing on the channel in the medium, they expect to see it on? 
Voice search is going to be a critical channel for all stages of the 
customer journey. To harness the power of voice is understanding when one 
would speak a question and knowing what that question would be so you can 
deliver the right answer at the perfect moment so that their experience 
with your brand is more like a natural conversation between two friends, 
opposed to just a search result.

*Create a Schema Markup strategy*

One of the most powerful hidden secrets is Schema Markup. Many websites 
online have implemented some form of schema markup to their site but many 
aren't using the methodology to maximize its full potential. Google has a 
wealth of information on how to leverage Schema Markup classes for the 
semantic layer of the web. This is a foundational step in your voice search 
success. Schema Markup is not often done well by SEO professionals or 
content writers. It is somewhat technical in nature but there are software 
programs out there to assist in the implementation of Schema Markup. Schema 
Markup is the global vocabulary for the largest search engines around the 
world and is the secondary answer engine beyond the native answer engines 
built within the platforms (ie Alexa, Siri, OK Google, etc). There are over 
800 Schema Markup classes and each website should have at least 5 different 
classes across various pages such as Events, Organization, Local Business, 
Person, Product, or Service. Schema Markup creates a stronger relationship 
between your website content and the search engines.

Kent Lewis from Anvil Media, Inc., Portland, OR writes

Why does position 0/voice search matter?

According to a Stone Temple study, 30% of searches generate a position 0 result, which means plenty of opportunities for ecommerce sites to generate additional awareness and authority. Need additional motivation? In 2016, 20% of Google searches and 25% of Bing searches originated from voice. ComScore/ Campaign predict voice search will constitute half of all searches by 2020.. Echo alone will account for $7 billion in voice transactions-or vcommerce.. March 2017 study by eMarketer, 33% US internet users are somewhat or very likely to make a purchase via voice-enable speakers. Voice searches on Google are 30 times more likely to be action-oriented than text-based searches..

How do you optimize for P0 & voice search?

The first step in optimizing for voice search is to structure your content to answer common search queries on the target topic. One way to identify which pages on your site are best candidates for position zero is to look at your high-performing pages in analytics. For those that generate an Answer Box, you can reverse-engineer the current position zero snippet to gain insights into why and how they are ranking. Beyond restating and answering the question succinctly on the target page, be sure to incorporate the most relevant keywords in the page URL, title and H1 tag. STAT found that featured snippet URLs included an exact match query in the tag 21% more often than regular results. 

Both voice search and position zero provide significant opportunities for brands not only to own competitive terms as an expert but to double visibility in highly desirable organic search results. Read my related article: Best Practices for Voice Search and Position Zero Optimization Strategies for more information:

Mike Khorev from I Know SEO, Canada writes

Voice search and voice search optimization is a fast expanding area of 
search engine optimization (SEO) that many companies tend to put in a 
separate category than mobile search. A big mistake a lot of companies make 
is focusing on a sole keyword that is made to be a single head term. 
Instead, what we do is expand the range of keywords that are already in use for
mobile search. By adding in contextual words and keywords that would respond
to a query asked via voice, our clients’ searchability and discoverability
surges upward. 

The main thing that we keep in mind here is that many people use voice when they are on the move. In these situations, it’s more likely that a person uses
contextual words and phrases like “what,” “how”, “where”, and “near me
” to find what they’re looking for faster and get accurate search results 
from the get-go. Building around these keywords can ensure that a client 
ranks up in Google when voice search is in use. On top of this, taking on 
the endeavor of beefing up your voice search optimization also allows for 
better results across the board, mobile search included. At the end of the 
day, voice search optimization is the same as SEO, the only difference is 
the need for context to provide better search results that benefit the 

Gary Nicholson from Designory writes

We work with automotive clients (Nissan, Subaru, Audi, Infiniti) here at my agency. One thing we have done to date is write FAQ content around each vehicle. The content is data driven. We obtain this data by scraping forums, social media and search engine results to give us insights into what questions people are asking around the vehicles. 
We then take that data and create questions. We categorize the questions into categories (ownership, maintenance, features, specs, etc.). Each FAQ question has a short explicit (straight to the point) answer and below that is an extended answer. The short answer is geared for voice search queries with a word limit(between 29-35 words) This is so the Alexa, Google, Siri, etc. can then scan the short answer which for us typically shows up in Google answer boxes. So far this has worked well for us and helps answer searchers questions who are in market to buy vehicles. 

Another thing we have done is take the quick answer type format and create it for each vehicle's overview page with quick answer information (MPG, cargo space, towing capacity, etc.) which in turn gets picked up by Google's answer boxes as well as voice search devices. This has also worked well for our clients.

Thank you Bethanie, Kent, Mike and Gary for your input. We hope you can put these pointers into action and boost your traffic! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below and we'll send you to the right direction.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlogSimplified SEOWriters