Hey Siri, where’s the nearest authentic Méxican place that serves tacos al pastor?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a voice search query. As you can see, it’s not a one- or two-word shorthand phrase that captures as much as possible with as few words as possible. It’s actually — no, never mind. We’ll get to that in a bit. For now, how did we arrive at voice search? How did we go from typing to saying? Well, as you can see from this excerpt on how to know voice search based organic traffic:

Voice search originated from a “voice interface for a search engine” patent filed by Google in 2001. Fifteen years later, we’re in the midst of a battle between tech giants like Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft to see who can come up with the best virtual assistant to hit the market. If this were a movie it would be called, “Voice Search: The Rise of the Digital Assistants,”  starring Alexa  (Amazon), Cortana  (Microsoft), Google Assistant (Google) and Siri (Apple).

From the snippet above, we can see that while voice search originated nearly two decades ago, it was the rise of the smartphone that truly propelled it to the place it holds today. As soon as we first set our hands on it, we were smitten — plain and simple. We were introduced to a world of speed and instant results in which our voice became the fastest way of getting directions, finding our new go-to restaurant and satisfying our curiosity with random questions like how does voice search work? (Seriously though, feel free to ask your digital assistant and see what they have to say).

That being said, you’re probably here because you want to know how to rank for voice search and improve your voice search SEO. No worries on that end, here are 3 voice search optimization tips you need to include in your creative content marketing plan ASAP.

1: Use Long-Tail Keywords That Focus on Intent

The first thing you need to do to improve your voice search SEO is switch out shorthand for long-tail. Picking up where we left off a couple of paragraphs above, long-tail keywords are longer than normal keywords and tend to be more specific as well. That is to say that instead of capturing as much as possible (even if what you’re capturing isn’t what you really want), you’re capturing exactly what you want. In other words, it’s the difference between using a net that captures 10 fish that may not be the fish you want, and using a specialized pole that only captures the fish you want.

Even better and as digital marketing guru Neil Patel says, “since [long-tail keywords are] more specific, there is generally less competition surrounding it. In particular, these keywords are the heartbeat of voice search.”

Apart from long-tail keywords, place extra focus on intent. The thing is, unlike typing out a search query, saying it out loud forces us to use intent because that’s simply how we talk. For example, typing out that you want to find a Méxican place in your area would go something like this: mexican place nearby. The alternative, saying it out loud, would be what we touched on in the beginning, namely where’s the nearest authentic Méxican place that serves tacos al pastor? To this end, that is capturing these queries that make use of intent, make sure that your content answers the Five Ws and the how:

Use Long-Tail Keywords

The gist: Whether you’re writing in-house or making use of copywriting services, include long-tail keywords in your voice search content marketing and focus on intent.

2: Make Use of FAQs

When was the last time you browsed a FAQ page? If it was recently, you probably noticed that, as this post on voice search optimization states, “FAQ pages are absolutely perfect for voice search marketing because their content is already in the format you want: a conversational question followed by a short and concise answer underneath.” Absolutely perfect.

As the go-to when someone has a question about anything relating to a specific topic, brand or service, FAQ pages are a treasure trove of both long-tail keywords and voice search queries in general because their content has already been optimized for the exact questions a user is most likely to ask about. For example, a digital marketing agency can have a page with questions such as:

  • What is SEO?
  • What is voice search?
  • What is voice SEO?
  • How can I optimize my website for voice SEO?
  • Etc.

In doing so, they’ll be capturing traffic that specifically relates to the services they provide. Going further, they can have multiple pages that deal with separate services, i.e. a page about SEO, another about PPC, one about web development, then another for mobile app development, and so on.

The gist: FAQ pages are a must for voice search because their content is already tailored for intent and what users are more likely to search.

3: Write like a Person

Finally, think and write like a person. Remember, this is voice search, so right off the bat you know that users are speaking their queries rather than typing them out. In other words, they’re being more conversational and natural in the way they search. After all, we tend to think of our digital assistants as real people and speak to them as such.

When in doubt about how your voice search content marketing is coming across, take a note from John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google:

“If you write naturally and you write in a clear kind of language that’s consistent across the type of queries you want to target then that’s the type of information that we could pick up for voice as well.

The gist: We’re more conversational in our speech when we voice our queries versus when we type them out, and your content should reflect this as well.

Tip Rewind

Did you get all of those tips your voice search optimization 2018 strategy needs? Good, but in case you didn’t, here they are one more time for the sake of remembrance:

  1. Use Long-Tail Keywords That Focus on Intent
  2. Make Use of FAQs
  3. Write Like a Person