We all know the people saying “comma” out loud when having Siri write a text message. And by know, I mean hate. That’s because most of us use voice search in private. Siri, Alexa, and Google Home (in that order) are the most used voice searches. 93% of voice search users employ it at home, in private. 11% use voice search at work, 22% use it outdoors, and 53% use it in their cars. Even though you don’t often hear people talking out loud to Siri and Alexa in public, that doesn’t capture the growing prevalence of voice search for basic tasks like checking the weather, playing music and most relevantly, finding local businesses. Gartner predicts that 75% of US households will own a voice-enabled device if they don’t already. ComScore claims that 50% of all searches will be voice by the year 2020. So, if you’re a writer well-versed in keywords and search optimization; how do you best optimize your content for voice searches? In what ways do voice searches differ from typed searches?
1) Voice Searchers Speak in Complete Sentences
Did you know that people are more likely to use complete sentences when they talk out loud for voice searches than when they type in Google searches. This makes sense when you think about it: typing searches often features only keywords and fragments such as “cabbage benefits” or “directions Thai near 59804.” Often, you cut to the gist of the keywords and leave out the article adjectives when typing out a search. But because voice searches feels like making a request to a sort of person, almost like a conversation, then it feels proper to speak in complete sentences. That means, shockingly enough, write sentences, not fragments. It also means people tend to ask in question forms. Who, What, Where, Why, and How are used significantly more in voice searches than typed searches.
2) Stalk The Teenagers
Teenagers talk to their phones more than their family, and they’re voice searching about everything: homework, directions since they’re starting to drive, and advice on everything they cannot ask their parents. For them, voice search is intuitive and since they’re using it because they’re genuinely trying to figure things out in several avenues of life, they’re a perfect segment of the population to learn from. There’s no need to get too anthropological about it and stalk them like zoo animals, but if they’re your sons or daughters or students you teach—slyly observe them and write content that’s addressing the questions of this audience, the future consumers and most attuned to voice search population.
3) Long Tail Your Keywords!
Everyone told you not to use long tail keywords in content! They said noo, long tail keywords get less search traffic. Guess what? Long tail keywords are welcome in voice search optimization. The more specific the better. Why? Because literacy and complete sentences are BACK, baby! So generate a list of questions that leads a searcher or customer to your business. Variants of several questions, heads and tails and extras and tangents, get it all down, redundant and long. Then pare down that list by reading the questions out loud so you’re in the head space of a voice searcher yourself. It’s actually easier for Google to rank long tail keywords than general, commonly-used keywords. They may be low on traffic but high on conversion value. They’re perfect and detailed for people looking for niche-based content or companies. People using voice content will likely say “Where can I find a beach in Italy that’s not touristy and has cats at the café?” and if you wrote a blog about a restaurant along the beach with cats at the café, bam! Of course that’s crazily specific, but the joy in voice searches is that people will be more specific out loud so you can get into eccentricities and details you didn’t before back when you resorted to “beach café.”
As voice searching gets more prevalent and people get more comfortable, it’ll continue to grow and evolve. You can optimize your content to show up in voice searches by doing counter-intuitive things, like talking to teenagers, talking in complete sentences, and using long tail keywords. All the things you thought had gone out of style are BACK in, so rejoice dear writer and think about the questions people ask to get to YOUR content. In the meantime, WriterAccess answers questions for ALL sides of content strategy: clients, writers, editors, and more.
Samantha S writes direct, dynamic, digestible copy for any purpose and any medium. To inform, persuade, or entertain. Her writing catches and holds people’s attention because it’s accessible and easily absorbed. As both a detail-oriented and big picture thinker, she’s precise with technical aspects and insightful with overarching themes. She can shift from sparkling and conversational to no-nonsense and informative.