Just about everyone has had the experience of searching by voice, using Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana or Siri. And with pundits predicting that anywhere between 20 and 50 percent of all searches will be voice-initiated by 2020. It’s important for SEOs to start thinking about best practices and techniques for optimizing content for voice search & virtual assistants.
While SEO for these new interfaces will undoubtedly evolve as more people use them and the algorithms powering them get better, there are already opportunities for SEOs to start optimizing using existing resources and approaches, according to Eric Enge, General Manager of Perficient Digital. Enge will be discussing those opportunities at our SMX East conference in New York City next month.
How to earn featured snippets for your site. “This is good in traditional search, and critical in voice search, the world of a single answer where most of the responses Google provides come from featured snippets,” he said. Enge has mapped out a process for getting featured snippets for just about any type of content:
- Identify common questions in your market sector.
- Determine which of those are most interesting to your business.
- For each “target question” you select, develop a set of closely related questions that users are likely to also be interested in.
- Write content addresses target and related questions in a single cohesive article.
- Using this process, Enge’s company now “owns” featured snippets for several particular questions.
Build a Skill or an Action. Skills are used by Alexa to make the device smarter and make everyday tasks faster. Actions are similar processes for Google Assistant. You can build Skills and Actions manually, but Enge points out there are sites and services that make it easy – even for non-coders – to develop these search capabilities.
Developers have already created tens of thousands of Skills and Actions. For example, you can ask Alexa to search for Quora or ask Google Assistant to check your local weather.
Despite the abundance of these add-ons, there’s still plenty of opportunities to create Skills and Actions related to your brand or company’s business, according to Enge.
Develop persona models for voice apps. Just as brands work hard to create a consistent image and cultivate a unique customer experience, research suggests the actual voices spoken by virtual assistants should have a uniquely branded “personalities.”
“Computer-generated speech can have gender, and people prefer voices of their own gender,” Enge said. “People will recognize a computer voice as introverted or extroverted, and they’re more likely to like a voice of the same personality type as their own.”