SEO is a nuanced art… or technology. Who knows. It’s incredibly hard to pin down, isn’t it? It’s an area that spans across all different areas of eCommerce – from technology to design to copywriting, SEO should be at the forefront of every single member of your team’s mind. Of course, what we actually mean by SEO and how we execute it changes by the day. It’s a landscape which often feels like a game of Keeping up with Google. And it’s an area of digital that calls for you to keep on top of the ever-changing trends if you’re looking to stay ahead of the game.
The biggest change for SEO in 2018? The arrival of voice technologies. Voice assistants are here to stay: at the moment, it’s Amazon Alexa vs. Google Home but we’re sure to see new technologies finding their way into the market in coming years. And for that reason, it’s essential to keep up with voice technology trends. Voice labs found that there were a total of 33 million voice-first devices in circulation. Voice devices represent an immensely intuitive interface that fits seamlessly with the habits of a new generation of shoppers. A new interface calls for a new kind of optimization.
It’s predicted that half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. As a creative digital agency, it’s something we’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Here are our three key considerations for your brand or business as you begin to navigate the new world of voice search optimization, based on how your user is searching with voice technologies so far.
Conversational and questions-based keywords
If you’re on the ball when it comes to optimizing your site for search, you’re likely to have done a lot of keyword research. The bad news is that you won’t be able to make use of this in the same way for voice search (sorry). A different interface means a different type of communication. Your user will use an abbreviated form of enquiry to find you in the search – so for example “Where is the best place to buy previous season Burberry in California” becomes “Best previous season Burberry California”. In voice, the interface is speech, so your user will phrase their search in a way that much more closely mimics conversational speech i.e. in full questions.
Voice search is more focussed on the semantics of the question. Google’s end game is to serve the needs of the user, so it uses as many contextual cues as it can to gain insight into the intention of the search. As voice technologies advance, this will become more developed – Google will read intonation and pull from previous learnings on the user’s interests. But for the time being, you’ll need to consider how you integrate question phrases into your content. Let’s look at how you might go about doing that.
Again, when it comes to understanding what is going to best serve our user and creating targeted content to match their needs, it’s essential to consider the context of their enquiry. Or, more specifically, which stage of their journey are they’re at. I.e. are they in the initial research phases of finding the right product or service? You’ll probably want to send them to your blog. Are the ready to get a quote for your service? Take them through to a contact form.
This is something that gets a little bit more nuanced in voice search. Neil Patel makes an interesting point about inferring intent from the way that your user phrases their question. ‘What’ and ‘Who’ questions signal that a user is in the research phase. If they are asking ‘Where’ questions, they are almost ready to buy. So, to summarize, the future of voice is semantics-based SEO…
Local Business Optimization
Initial data shows that, at the moment, most people are using voice search to access information about local businesses – restaurants, stores, salons. It’s clear that they want to see the information they’re looking for in the search results, instead of following a link through to site. Make sure to claim your Google My Business listing, including an accurate name, address, and phone number with a short but meaningful description of your business. You can also make sure that you’re optimized for local search by incorporating the following keywords:
- Phrase people use to describe the surrounding area
- “Near me” in your title tags, meta description, internal links, and anchor text
- Landmarks around your business location
Structured Data Mark-Up
Metadata is data about the information on your site (not actually seen by your user) that helps search engines to organize and classify your content to decide whether it’s relevant. If utilized properly, structuring yours properly can give you the edge over your competition. Again, this is relevant to localised voice searches – your user will be looking for immediate information on opening hours, contact information and your address. You can use microdata to ensure that search engines classify this information.
Hyper-Targeted Landing Pages
Google wants to serve your user with the information that’s going to be most relevant to them. This was always the thinking behind creating tailored SEO landing pages. So, a London-based 360 marketing agency takes a visitor searching for “social marketing” through to a page with content specifically about the social media services they offer. The content is relevant and the user stays longer on site, proving the site as reputable.
Right now, most users are looking for information about products and services. If you’re managing an eCommerce, the vital information is likely to be found in your Help section. Structuring this part of your site as FAQ content, using the question phrases that your customer is likely to be using for voice search, gives you the best chance of matching the search. And, taking that one step further, you can consider breaking your FAQs up into individual pages with content centered around one specific semantic question.