How to Attract the “Ladies of Voice Search” to Your Site
A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were having a conversation that involved shoes or shoelaces or something to do with footwear. I made reference to the plastic thing on the end of my shoelace and my girlfriend -- ever the curious person -- immediately said: “OK, Google: What is the plastic thing on the end of a shoelace called?”
Her Google Nest Mini dutifully responded that it’s called an aglet (or aiglet) and gave the source of the answer.
I have to admit that for me and my girlfriend, voice search remains a bit of a novelty. (I still feel kinda silly talking to a speaker in general.) But, for nearly 30% of the online population, it’s now second nature.
For organizations, it’s a whole new avenue of SEO to concentrate on. The key is how the Nest didn’t just provide an answer, it gave the source of that answer. If you can position your website to be at the top of the voice search rankings, that means it will be cited as the source for people’s direct questions. Nothing says “expertise, authority and trust” quite like that.
With voice search, Google still reigns supreme, with its voice assistant (which I’m going to call Georgette, just because I can) being available on over a billion devices, which far outranks the other Ladies of Voice Search: Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa.
But, even though Georgette is available on more devices, you should still court the other Ladies of Voice Search and, in fact, you may even have a bit of an advantage if you concentrate on them since so many marketers have a Google-only mindset when it comes to search.
Voice’s impact on search
With more people voicing (heh) their preference for voice search, this will fundamentally change the way searching is performed.
Natural sounding queries
For example, voice queries are much more likely to be full, naturally sounding questions rather than just a few keywords, like many people type out when performing a traditional text search.
Using my girlfriend’s query as an example, if she were to type that out, she’d probably just go with “plastic tips on shoelaces” or something similar rather than bothering to type out the full question.
This means rather than focussing on a few strategic keywords, it’ll pay to have a broader scope on topics that answer highly specific questions. Remember that the various voice assistants like to answer in complete sentences and paragraphs, but they are just “reading” these answers off of websites.
Voice searches quite often have a local intent. If you’re searching for good Indian food, chances are you want that food to be close by. According to Search Engine Watch, voice searches are three times more likely to be based on location than traditional text searches.
This may be because more and more people are also using their voice assistants while driving.
Shorter content interaction
Unlike with text searches, voice searches are short and sweet. You ask a question, you get an answer and that’s basically it. Depending on what you’re asking for, you may make follow up queries, but overall interaction will be in brief spurts.
Data structure and content formatting will change
Structured data that informs search engines about what is on the page will be more important for voice search, as well as how content is formatted. For example, information contained in tables is not considered for voice search with Google at the moment. So, while your pricing table might be nice to look at and easy to read, it won’t be available for voice searches about your pricing. A web page that isn’t structured or formatted well will suffer when it comes to voice search.
Optimizing for voice search
With all that being said, how does one play The Bachelor and attract the Ladies of Voice Search to one’s site?
As voice searching is usually more of an on-the-go type of querying that requires an answer to a specific question. Having exact questions and the answers to go with them will help the Ladies of Voice Search find and use your content to answer those exact questions people have.
So, beef up your FAQ page, not just with questions about your specific company, but with questions germane to your industry.
While most keyword research tools still cater to traditional text searching, one tool that you can use to see actual questions people are asking in relation to your industry is Answer The Public. (Don’t mind the creepy guy leering at you on the homepage. He’s actually less creepy than the one they had before.)
Include these questions in your FAQ content and use them as bases for blog content to try and attract the Ladies of Voice Search to your site. Then, use traditional SEO strategies to link to your FAQ page so they can more easily find it.
Or, rather than having an FAQ page, try having some FAQs on your landing pages that are already ranking well. Write your content in a way that explains things in short, easy to understand paragraphs.
Have another look at your technical SEO
Back in 2018, Google released an important update to its Structured Data Tool. The update instructed publishers to include specific schema markup to recipes so Georgette could pick them up easier.
And while that update was recipe-specific, it’s a good indication that well structured data is going to help you when it comes to voice search. Anything that can help the Ladies find answers and understand what they’re “reading” will benefit your site when it comes to voice search.
In fact, Google’s chief webmaster and trends analyst John Mueller has stated that structured data helps page rankings much like regular content. So, make sure your technical SEO is up to snuff.
Audit your site to make sure all your pertinent information -- like your pricing -- is available to voice search. Even if you have it in an easy-to-read table, it may be worth having a short blurb underneath that for the Ladies to be able to read.
While it is still in the BETA stage, keep your eye on developments with Google’s Speakable and start adding Speakable structured data to your web pages (especially those aforementioned FAQs).
Beef up your local SEO for those “near me” voice searches
Local SEO is always important to small businesses with a physical footprint, so you’ll want to be able to answer all those “near me” queries when people are driving around. To help you do this:
Make sure your Google My Business page is completely up-to-date with your complete address, the neighbourhood you’re in, your hours of operation (including holiday hours), your phone number and anything else that helps identify your location.
Use location-specific keywords as anchor text for optimizing both internal and external links to your web pages. (A trick TripAdvisor uses to their advantage.)
If you’re not already, start using Geofencing so you can target folks with localized ads when they’re in a specific area.
Now that we’ve talked about the Ladies of Voice Search in general (and mostly covered how to get Georgette to your site), let’s talk about how to woo Siri, Cortana and Alexa specifically.
We start with Siri because even though Apple and Google are avowed enemies, there are never any real enemies in tech. (They’re all so intertwined with one another.) Therefore, Siri relies on the same search results Georgette does, which is to say Google.
… Except for local.
For local queries, Siri relies on Apple Maps. So, it’s worth it to register your business on Apple Maps Connect so you can get all those “near me” iPhone voice searches.
Cortana does not rely on Google results. Instead, she relies on Bing. Because Bing is often an afterthought when it comes to search, there is less competition to rank highly on it and that bodes well for your chances at being one of those search query answers.
If you haven’t already, get your website on Bing with the Bing Webmaster Tools and register your business with Bing Places for Business. (Yes, registering for all this SEO-related stuff is a pain and that’s why most businesses hire someone to do it for them.) Fortunately, getting set up with Bing for Business is just as easy as Google My Business and it will automatically register your business on Bing Maps.
Alexa also uses Bing search, so there’s extra incentive to pay attention to Bing and treat it with the same gravity as Google. She also draws local search results from Yelp, so go claim your business on that site and optimize it if you haven’t already. In addition to Alexa, Yelp also provides search help to Bing Places and Apple Maps. (Told ya they were all intertwined.)
Being the voice assistant of Amazon, Alexa also has the extra responsibility of ordering stuff from Amazon Prime.
If you want your Amazon store to attract Alexa:
Have a Prime shipping option
Do what you can to be an Amazon’s Choice pick, as Alexa favours these products. (If you’re not a Choice, try to keep your ratings as high as possible, as that can affect what Alexa picks if there’s no Choice in a product category.)
With a little grooming and some focus in the right areas, your web pages can be the results of choice for the Ladies of Voice Search. This technology is only going to get more important -- especially once Google’s Speakable is officially rolled out -- so start preparing for it now. In another five or 10 years, search will almost certainly be voice-first.