Alexa and Siri are changing search: 5 steps to stay on top

Alexa and Siri are changing search: 5 steps to stay on top Andrew Lovasz is the CEO of Main Path Marketing, a leading digital marketing firm providing enterprise level solutions to SMB and mid-market companies. He has 17 years of experience as an executive in the digital marketing industry, with clients ranging from Verizon Wireless to thousands of small and mid-market car dealers, restaurants and hotels. Mr. Lovasz won Google’s 2015 SMB Premier Partner Mobile Champion award for his team’s efforts in optimizing digital marketing campaigns for mobile devices. His efforts brought cutting edge online to offline attribution to prove that digital marketing led to increases in real world sales. Most recently he served as the SVP of Marketing Strategy for Search Optics where he focused on driving measurable results for SMB and mid-market companies.

The enthusiastic adoption of voice activated personal assistant technology has put voice search queries in focus for search engine marketers.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has stated that 20% of all Google searches are now voice searches. Bing claims that the voice search component makes up 25% of all searches on its network.

We all know Google and other search engines don’t create the answers to the questions consumers ask; organizations, bloggers, and brands do. To supplement their search engine results, many brands have invested in creating unique pieces of to cover specific topics that are typed into search engines.

While that’s still a solid strategy, we should all consider devoting time and resources on answers questions consumers have spoken into their devices.

Given that Amazon sold out of the Echo well before Christmas, we can conclude consumers have embraced the voice-activated personal assistant.

It’s likely that these products will start to permeate our workspaces, homes, vehicles, and even holiday destinations in the coming years.

How Voice-Controlled Personal Assistants Impact SEO 

The significant change that voice search brings is to the results page. Asking a smartphone, “find tire store near me” displays just three listings.A search engine result page on a computer lists at least ten options.

For Google Home and Amazon Echo, Google and Alexa respond with just one result.

Google and Alexa respond with just one result

First-page placement was considered a success to many marketers and the companies they worked with, but the limited results offered by voice search represents a significant shift in search engine optimization, at least when pursuing the voice-query objective.

Another significant shift is that Google Home, Amazon Echo, and even Siri deliver answers based on the personal data they collect. This is another move to ensure the answers are relevant and helpful, but it’s also another variable that marketers need to consider.

When considering how to structure keyword and search strategy for voice search, the first thing to keep in mind is that written and oral communication are governed by different parts of the brain.

you should write in a conversational tone, and avoid awkward phrasing and keyword stuffing

While consumers have shown they’re willing to type “whole house water purifier, pricing, Austin, Texas” into the search bar, they’re far more likely to touch the microphone button on a phone and ask, “Siri, how much is a whole home water purifier in Austin, Texas?” as if in conversation with a neighbour.

Search engines and digital assistants encourage this friendly approach by naming their voices, Siri, Alexa, Cortana.

Search engines want you to feel as though you’re speaking to a helpful, warm human being rather than a cold, impersonal algorithm.

This psychological difference means that when targeting voice searchers with your content, you should write in a conversational tone, and avoid awkward phrasing and keyword stuffing.

5 Steps to stay on top of voice search

The advent of voice search does not mandate an immediate and comprehensive change in SEO strategy. Instead, marketers and companies can begin making some changes to a portion of the efforts to attract those searching via voice.

Explore your analytics

Your business may already have responded to voice search. The evidence is in your analytics, where you may find complete questions.

For instance, do any of your keyword phrases start with the words who, what, where, when, why or how?

You may notice “How many sessions do couples’ therapists recommend?” or “Where is a couples’ therapist near me.”

Also keep in mind that phrases “Near me” and “nearby” are frequently seen in voice searches.

Amend your website with question-and-answer content

Start making a list of these questions and consider adding them to your content, either in a FAQ or question-and-answer format.

Keep creating blog posts, as they serve as great content for your social media channels and email newsletters and will also bring in traffic from written and spoken searches.

Another advantage of the Q&A style format is that the search engine may decide to put your quick, short answer in a “featured snippet”, spotlighting your site and information.

Use conversational language in your site content

Users searching via voice aren’t trying to sound formal; they’re trying to get the answers they need as quickly as possible.

If there are slang terms for your products and services, incorporate them into your site.

Search engines and digital-assistant services have been working on semantic search and natural language for years now. Their aim is to derive “intent” from the string of words searchers use so that they can deliver the best answers.

The software attempts to determine if the best answer is simple information, directions, a store, pricing, or a number of other responses.

Use Schema and knowledge graph info to please search engines

Not only is search becoming increasingly voice activated, but it’s getting more and more personal.

Google, Amazon, and Microsoft know two users aren’t likely to agree on “best dog breed in America.” To win their aim of returning the answer each person perceives as correct, these companies gather data on how their service is used.

Search engines and digital assistants collect information about our habits, favourites, and more to fine-tune search results.

Website owners can help search engines by using Schema markup language, code that helps search engines deliver the information that matches the intent behind a user’s query as well as the information itself.

When someone asks Siri, “Where can I find a socket wrench?” she has to figure out whether you’re asking where socket wrenches are typically found (toolbox, garage) or where you can buy them.

Schema helps clarify consumer need. Use it.

Understand your buyer’s journey and the questions that arise at each stage

If question-and-answer format and personalization lie at the heart of voice search, it makes sense that teasing out the exact questions your buyers ask at each stage of their journey will please search engines and digital assistants.

Get your team together and break down what people ask during each phase in the buyer’s journey.

Consider creating one Q&A for each phase. Consider this example of a hypothetical RV company that does this effectively:

–          Need recognition: “Q&A for families longing for more quality time together”

–          Information gathering: “Q&A for families considering buying an RV”

–          Evaluation of options: “Q&A for those torn between the fun of a class C and a trailer”

–          Decision/purchase: “All RV warranty questions answered here”

–          Post-purchase: “Making RV service simple: all your questions answered”

Ready to Take On Voice Search Strategy?

Voice search isn’t as much a divergence or even a shift as it is another way businesses can connect with prospects online. It’s an opportunity!

While consumers are having fun asking “Alexa, do you know Siri?” Echo is training people to purchase goods and services from Amazon. Google Home collects data on your favorite radio stations, products, restaurants, and more, and uses this information to serve ads when you surf the web and even through social media.

Staying abreast of the changes to search — including knowing the players and what they stand to gain — will help your business maintain revenue without hitting the dips that come with ignorance.

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