By Sarah Loise
With the recent reveal of Google Duplex, our machine learning algorithms are getting better and better. You know what this means, as the world goes forward? An increased emphasis on voice search. Even more so, with the 2017 release and proliferation of smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home, there are more people using voice search than ever. In fact, according to marketing firm Activate Inc, there will be over 20 million smart speakers in the US by 2020. What does this mean to you as a small business owner or digital marketer?
There are a lot of personal voice assistants out there, and they keep getting smarter. Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa just scratch the surface of the number of quasi-AI assistants out there that offer a peek into life is like with them. Just ask a question, and it gives you results in the most natural-sounding voice the machine can offer. In fact, according to Alpine.ai, an internet-based voice-search firm, there were over a billion voice searches made in January 2018 alone.
Use Long-Tail Keywords
There are two different types of keywords for digital marketers use in their online content: long-tail and short tail. Long-tail keywords are specific phrases, normally made up of three or more words used to target certain demographics. Normally, short-tail keywords are used to target mass audiences rather than specific audiences. In recent times, their importance has greatly reduced, and the spread of voice search makes their eventual departure even more evident.
Long-tail keywords are meant to be very specific, and as such will give you the opportunity to rank very highly in the most popular search engines. Additionally, they will only be able to attract qualified traffic, since it stands to reason that some effort will have been put to reach your niche. Such qualified traffic is more likely to convert from leads into sales and long-time customers.
Long-tail keywords apply to voice search because people tend to be more specific than normal search engines. People don’t typically use normal search engines the same way they use voice search. Improving the prominence of long-tail keywords will help give you a boost whenever someone uses voice search.
Understand that Google Isn’t the Only Voice Search Player
Most recently, companies that come to mind that with an increased focus on voice search include Facebook and Yelp. With these sites, the emphasis comes in when asking for the closest restaurants or where a certain business is located. If you increase your presence and visibility in these and other networks, such as Foursquare, your voice search prominence is definitely going to improve.
Additionally, a customer may ask questions like, “How are the reviews for [your business here]?” In such a scenario, Google’s algorithm will do its thing and likely pull results from high-traffic sites like Yelp to give you what you need.
If your business has good reviews and you do a great job of keeping your site in Google’s radars, they will likely return the favor for you. Search engine visibility is always a good thing, after all.
Give Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
A common, yet effective way of getting people to visit your site is by using questions. Think about it: how many times have you searched for something online in the form of a question? If your answer was something along the line of ‘lots of times,’ then you’re in luck.
A lot of people tend to search for questions using the words ‘who,’ ‘how,’ ‘where’ and ‘what.’ The more exact your response, especially relative to the rest of your content and keywords, the more likely Google picks you as their poster boy for well-written answers.
Figure Out Which Questions to Answer
The easiest way to know the most commonly asked questions is to start typing out a question. Google’s autocomplete suggestions are a thing of wonder – ruthlessly effective and accurate. It’s going to fill out for you the most commonly asked questions with the criteria you type out. Click on one of the suggestions and follow the top link. If you can do a better job than they have, knock yourself out.
Another common way to figure out the most common questions that have been asked is by using sites such as Quora and Answer the Public. With your keywords or criteria in hand, visit one of these and search for them. The top results that come from your quest are likely the most sought-after answers in your field.
Lastly, if you have creative juices flowing, put yourselves in their shoes. What would you ask, then? Focus your content on the kind of meaningful words, phrases, and queries that your target demographic would be interested in.It’s a common mistake for professionals to think like professionals: most customers don’t have technical expertise, and thus won’t search for difficult topics. Try and dumb everything down to a level literally anyone can understand.
Write Your Content in an Informal Tone
One unique thing managers and small business owners often miss about optimizing their sites for younger people is how much more they prefer to be indirect. In speech, people are usually a lot less formal than they are in writing. It’s partly a cultural thing exhibited all over the world, perhaps due to the kind of prestige literacy was once accorded.
Anyway, the main point is that rather than having formal content on your site throughout, you should try and be colloquial, at times. The key is not to dig yourself so deep into a hole you can’t figure out how to climb back out. If you try too hard, your content may turn out to be cringy and unenjoyable. Using common related phrases should do the trick.
Complete Your Google My Business
Google’s algorithms don’t run on magic. If a customer wants information on your business, Google is going to attempt and get it from the information you’ve filled out on Google+. That’s usually the primary metric they use for details such as opening hours, phone number, address, closing times and such.
The identification system also lets people leave reviews, either via Google Maps or right at the search engine. When Google Duplex eventually kicks off, for instance, if a customer says a generic phrase like the ones showcased at Google I/O 2018, owners of online businesses will need their information online and easily reachable.
Use Voice Search Yourself to Get a Feel For It
The best way for all owners of online businesses to really understand what all the fuss is about is to try out voice search by yourself. Maybe even check out the short clip of the Google Duplex preview to know where we’re coming from and how your business will be impacted.
You might even notice something new to incorporate into your business. Just like all managers have actually to be in leadership to know what it’s like and digital marketers to deal with low conversion rates to feel the burn, the same principle applies to you. Play around with Alexa, Siri or even Bixby if that’s your thing and jump onto the hype train.