Alexa, tell me about voice search optimization for B2B companies.
“Hmm, I don’t know that one.”
Alexa, are you stupid?
“No, but I am always learning more.”
If there has ever been a simple summary to a complex question, this conversation I had with Alexa sums it up best. Voice search is clearly a big trend with a lot of marketing buzz right now, but what is it, who is using it, and how do you do it? More importantly, does voice search fit for your organization, and should you really make voice search optimization part of your SEO strategy?
Siri, What Is Voice Search?
While Apple is credited with ushering in the wave of voice assistant technology with the launch of Siri in 2011, speech recognition tools have been in development since the early 1960s. Since Siri’s debut, Amazon, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and others have all added new names to our lexicon.
With the explosion of intelligent assistant devices and voice assistant technologies, more people are using them to perform Internet searches. Simply put, voice search allows you to speak, and your device will scour the Internet for the most relevant answer to your question.
Bixby, Who Uses Voice Search?
We all know that voice search is used for more than asking about tomorrow’s weather or how to bake gluten-free, keto-friendly, organic, locally sourced, free-range cookies. However, for businesses, it’s most commonly associated with B2C and location-based results. It’s great for asking about top-rated restaurants in your city or where the nearest car rental location might be.
As more people become accustomed to using these technologies in their everyday lives outside the office, they, of course, start an inevitable creep into our corporate hallways. A 2019 survey found that the third most frequent environment for people to use voice commands was in the office.
Additionally, we also must take into account that tomorrow’s B2B superstars are growing up with these assistants and will likely view using them as second nature. So, we expect the use of voice search to increase in the foreseeable future.
Cortana, How Do I Optimize SEO For Voice Search?
The first step in understanding how to optimize for voice search is to recognize the language of it. Traditionally, we are accustomed to typed/text searches. We keep these searches short and to the point, making sure they are specific to get the results we expect. Voice search, however, is longer and more conversational. It’s like speaking to a digital pal. Most voice searches often take the form of questions: how, what, or why.
In SEO terms, we tend to focus on long-tail keywords because they usually show greater intent. This same principle should be applied when selecting keywords for voice search optimization.
Once you have your list of keywords, content is still key to successful optimization. Results are usually just a sentence or two long (Alexa isn’t all that yappy). This means your content should be crafted to answer the big question in a succinct way. One of the easiest places to start is your FAQs page since it already follows this format. Interviews (Q&A-based assets) are also another quick way to create content tailored to voice search.
The primary goal of this exercise is to target featured snippets and optimizing your content to be pulled in at the top of a search result page as a direct answer to the query. Voice search will then read these featured snippets aloud to the user.
Google is often the default for SEO optimization, but when it comes to voice search optimization, you shouldn’t focus on just one search engine. The results are based on the device you used and could come from places like Apple Maps, Amazon product listings, and Bing.
Google Assistant, Does My B2B Need A Voice Search Optimization Plan?
Knowing that voice search is on the rise isn’t enough proof to say that you should put any of your B2B eggs in this basket. Like all strategies, you must evaluate if it’s the right tactic for your organization and audience.
As of now, voice search is still very connected to local markets. This means your B2B organization will need to understand the opportunities where it’s physically located. These organizations will have the greatest probability of seeing results from their optimization efforts. For most B2Bs, the truth is they should have it on their radar, but they aren’t quite there yet regardless of how much of a trend it may seem.
For today’s B2B organizations, the primary goal is most often lead generation. While an intelligent assistant device can serve up your information, for now, there is no physical interaction with your site to create a conversion. I stress the “for now” aspect as you can bet that the Googlesphere will eventually find a way to monetize this.
As a priority, most B2B companies would be better served by focusing their efforts toward mobile-first indexing. Since Google’s announcement in 2016, B2B websites have refocused their efforts to create responsive sites that are optimized for the mobile user experience. In taking this approach, you will also already be on track for when you are ready to kick off your voice search strategies since most are conducted on mobile devices.
SEO best practices are evolving quickly with these new technologies, and for your B2B it might be time to say “Siri, set a reminder to make voice search a part of my overall SEO strategy.”
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