The latest research predicts that there will be 8 billion (yes, billion, with a B) digital voice assistant devices in use around the globe by 2023. With that speed of growth, voice marketing is quickly changing the playing field for marketers. Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant haven’t just changed the way Americans live their lives. They’re transforming the way we do content marketing.
How do digital voice searches work?
To target your customers’ behavioral patterns with these digital assistants, you need to first understand how they work. Vivek Sharma, from USC’s Marshall School of Business, breaks it down into three steps:
1. Speech to text
This step converts your customers’ voice queries or commands into text by breaking their words down into phonemes, the units of words that make similar speech sounds, such as the “k” sound in both “kilt” and “chuck.” The AI behind your friendly digital assistant analyzes the sentences the phonemes form by both syntax and context to determine the correct textual match.
Image source: Reading Doctor
2. Text to intent
Text to intent uses natural language processing algorithms, along with context and location, to determine the relevance of various possibilities. For example, as Sharma shows, the question “Tell me about Paris” has a wealth of possibilities, from celeb news about Paris Hilton to a map of Paris, France. If you’ve been Googling celebrity blogs, you probably mean Paris Hilton. If you’ve recently landed in Paris and have just hailed an Uber, you probably want a map or information about the city’s attractions.
3. Intent to action
After determining the user’s most likely intent, the digital assistant fulfills what it “thinks” the user is asking for. It’s not perfect – ask anyone who’s ever launched a tirade at Siri after a wrong guess, usually in a stressful situation. But with machine learning, these digital assistants learn more about your way of phrasing things. Over time, they usually become more accurate.
Users, too, learn how to get more accurate results. You could say that your digital assistant “programs” you.
It’s natural language, but to be effective, users must learn how to phrase their questions to get better results. A missed exit on an empty tank of gas can teach you mighty fast.
Create Content Around Specific Queries
So, instead of asking, “Hey Siri, tell me about Paris,” you might ask, “Where can I find the best croissants near me?” or “Alexa, give me directions to the Louvre.” Specific questions or queries work best with voice search.
Content marketers, then, need to tailor their keywords to the kinds of voice searches that would be contextual relevant to how your audience might want information about your product or service. Adapting your content strategy to voice search is a must for content marketing success.
Creating content that mirrors both typical questions and your digital assistant’s “thought” process can land your blog post on Position Zero, the search results position that appears atop even paid search.
Back in the day (and I mean only a few years ago), Google’s search algorithms gave preference to such keyword strings as “best barber in Barberton” or “New York marketing agency.” Now, however, Google prioritizes natural language searches, looking for keywords that mirror the words typical users say when they ask their digital assistants for information.
Optimize for Mobile
Furthermore, voice searches occur more often on mobile than at home. As Vox.com points out, a much greater number of people use digital assistants while driving than in their homes.
Optimizing content for mobile searches, therefore, is a must for content marketing in 2020 and beyond. Not only must you keep in mind the voice commands people will likely use to find what you offer, but you must answer their questions with clarity.
Answer Target Customers’ Likely Questions
One way to do that, points out Single Grain’s Luisa Brenton, is by thinking of your content as answers to frequently asked questions about your topic. During content planning sessions, brainstorm with your team about what questions your target customers might ask about the general topic.
From those questions, you can create blog posts with titles that answer those questions directly. The more accurately your title and content answer your customers’ likely questions, the better it will rank.
Content collaboration with your sales team can help you narrow down the types of questions you should address in your posts. After all, it’s they who hear the questions their prospects ask during phone calls and in-person meetings. As Brenton advises, jot down the exact phrases your sales team hears most often. Then, mirror those phrases in your new content.
For example, if you’re offering software that helps small businesses organize their financials, you’d likely use the word “challenges” to describe their problems. “How to Conquer Tax Challenges” would appeal more to a forward-looking CEO than a title that uses a more negative term, like “problems.”
If, on the other hand, you were selling an organizational system for persons with ADHD, you might be better off including the word “overwhelm” when describing problems. It’s a common term among both people with ADHD and their therapists. In this case, “How ADHDers Can Overcome the Overwhelm” might be a better choice.
The better you guess your target audience’s questions and the words they use to ask them, the more likely you’ll end up at the top of searches for answers to those questions. Google’s “featured snippets” list the most relevant answers to those questions, pulling actual text out from your content.
Include Structured Data on the Backend
Structured data are snippets of code that provide specific information about your page. For example, a product page’s structured data might contain the product’s available colors and sizes. A retail store webpage might contain structured data detailing locations and hours open.
“But I can’t code,” you protest. “I’m a writer/video producer/graphic designer, not a techie,” you say. No worries. If you use Yoast, their local SEO and WooCommerce plugins can walk you through the process of entering the proper data. The plugins will do the virtual legwork for you.
If you don’t use Yoast, there’s a resource called Schema.org that provides samples of code that you can copy and customize to your needs. These samples are categorized by various types of pages, such as product pages, images, local businesses, etc. It’s fairly easy to learn, and it’s well worth learning. As Yoast puts it, it’s “like…telling Google what your site is about.”
Structured data is well worth the time you’ll spend to master it. It, like researching the types of questions target customers ask, helps optimize your content for voice search.
Finally, Go Back into Your Archives to Voice-Optimize Older Content
Remember that blog post you wrote back in 2012 that lit up the Internet and gave you your first No. 1 position in Google searches for your focus keyword? It’s probably still good advice for today, with a few updates. A few tweaks to its content could revitalize its “good bones” and give it a whole new audience.
If only you could find it.
With a comprehensive content marketing platform, though, it’s easy to find, collaborate on, and republish your voice-optimized updates on both your website and on social media.
That’s where we come in. If you’d like a quick demonstration of how you can put these voice optimization tips into action to attract new customers with DivvyHQ, request a demo today!