During the 2017 holiday season, sales of Google Home devices topped out at 14 million. That implies that asking Google a question is one of the most popular activities in homes today. In fact, a 2017 Google study determined that 1 in 5 searches were done through voice.

If people are using voice-activated devices to find information, then search optimization must cater to this need. Want to be Google’s answer to your customers’ voice queries? Then practice these five tips to increase your chance to be there when your audience needs information.

Consider the user first

Think of your users first to consider who you are targeting and what action you want them to take. To gain organic traffic through voice search, your content must be recognized as the best search result. The focus is now on a user’s intent and identifying the gaps where existing content cannot answer to voice-based search queries.

Though intent is personal for each user, Google continues to learn voice user intent to better deliver relevant and accurate results. Intent may be as simple as unpacking a voice query about a restaurant and accurately estimating if the user seeks directions or menus. Marketers can help algorithms by considering user intent while writing content and monitoring search terms.

Remember context

There are multiple signals Google assesses when ranking content, and these models don’t disappear when building search tactics that align with voice queries. Google assesses quality by learning which search terms are related and building context around those terms.

For voice as for traditional search, make sure your content is comprehensive and unique and provides value. Identify related search terms and build content that both utilizes those terms and connects well with your content.

5 tips for getting your content optimized for voice search

Think in terms of questions

A search engine is like a giant answering machine. It’s where we turn for almost all our day-to-day questions. The most important shift in thinking for voice search is to think in terms of questions. Most search queries are, in fact, questions. What are your audience’s most important questions? The quicker users can find the information, the better. Anticipate questions a user will ask and position content to efficiently answer those questions.

Begin by considering your own search queries and the types of questions you generally ask as a frame of reference. “How,” “why” and “what” are the most common leads for search queries.

Write for search

Write colloquially for your audience. It’s common for brands to carry their established brand tone across all platforms, including search, but that shouldn’t be the case. Search itself is a unique platform, much like the publication you may write for. Match the tone of your audience in order to be found. Search marketing isn’t a branding exercise—it’s a customer connection exercise.

While many marketers focus their search marketing energy on conveying a brand message, you should instead write with the tone of your audience’s needs in mind so that your information can be recognized.

Most of all, write as humanly as possible. Answer questions in an organic, nonrobotic way—the way you would answer them if a friend asked. Having a degree of empathy and understanding of your audience will help you connect with your audience.

Aim for personalization

Finally, Google is also continuously building personalized search engine results pages. It uses factors such as location, interests and search history to build more personalized user results. This means it’s increasingly important to understand your target audience on a deeper level. Consider where they might be located, what they’re interested in, how they might be searching and if they’ve searched for related content before.

To gain organic traffic and succeed at voice search, it’s no longer about sequencing the best keywords, it’s about understanding your target’s intent and addressing their needs through optimized content. By understanding your target audience and changing your approach to content writing, you’ll be able to effectively reach your audience and be a relevant connection to a customer need and brand offering.

The essence of search marketing is connecting customer needs to a brand offering. Voice search allows us another channel to accomplish this goal.

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Ewan O'Donnell

Ewan O'Donnell

Ewan O’Donnell is a search marketing expert and senior search activator at Bader Rutter. Originally from Scotland, O’Donnell has spent the past 10 years studying search marketing in the United Kingdom and United States, counseling brands such as PepsiCo, Corteva, Huggies, Fiskars and more on their search marketing strategies.

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