What you should be adding to your 2019 marketing strategy

This past Thanksgiving, my 5-year old nephew stood at his grandma’s corner cabinet, yelling up at her smart speaker.

“ALEXA,” he shouted, dancing side to side in his light-up sneakers. “ALEXA, TELL ME ABOUT POKEMON.”

The 5-and-under market might not be your intended audience and Pokemon may not be your product, but the prevalence of smart devices and smart assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant mean voice search is becoming more and more common, even in your grandma’s house over the holidays. All brands, organizations, and associations hoping to have an online presence (and who isn’t?) should consider what voice search means for them, and whether or not they’re set up to take advantage of its opportunities.

So how is voice search different from what you’re already doing for search engine optimization? There’s a lot of overlap between good SEO and good voice search optimization, but there are some unique factors to consider, too. Here’s our list of tips to keep in mind when integrating voice search into your 2019 marketing plans:

Focus on your audience’s questions.

If you think about the kinds of queries we might make to Siri or Alexa, you’ll notice they’re typically in the form of a question. For an association, these questions might be something like, “What time is the event tonight?,” “How much are annual dues?,” or “Where is the annual conference this year?” For a commercial brand, the questions might be, “How much is this product?,” “How do I use this?,” or “What does it mean when this red light is blinking?”

It sounds simple, but to ensure you’re the answer chosen for voice searches for these kinds of queries, you’ll want to make sure you have content that fits your audience’s questions. Take a look in Google Search Console and see what questions your visitors are typing in on regular search engines, then make sure you’re answering them. Be sure to answer clearly and succinctly, and consider all stages of the user journey, from awareness to post conversion. It can even help to make the question the heading of your content. That brings us to the next item on our list…

Make your content conversational, simple, and easy-to-read.

A study of 10,000 Google Home search results (completed by Backlinko.com) found that the average result for voice searches was written at a 9th grade level. Voice results need to be easy for an automated voice to clearly pronounce and read out loud, so it makes sense that simpler content works better. And while you don’t need to use the exact language your searcher is using, remember that humans tend to use conversational language when speaking to a virtual assistant. Using conversational language in your content may help you get more voice results.

Create the best user experience you can.

A great user experience should be a priority for any website, but it’s especially important in voice search optimization. Unlike regular search engine results, where you can see 10 results per page, there’s only one site selected for a voice query. You need to not only have the best answer to the question, but you also need to make sure the voice assistant can access your info quickly. That means your site needs to be fast, mobile friendly, and secure (using HTTPs). The good news is that getting these elements in place will help your standard organic results, your user engagement, and likely your conversion rate, as well—so they should be at the top of your 2019 priorities, anyway!

(Psst—we can help you with this. Drop us a note.)

Optimize for local listings.

Many voice searches are local—”what time does [X] close?” “Give me directions to [Y].” Make sure you’re doing everything you can to optimize for local search in regular search results, and this should help you with voice search, as well. Claim your Google Maps listing and Google Business profile, and make sure the info is filled out and correct. Optimize your website for local keywords as appropriate.

Use schema and structured formatting.

The Backlino.com study we referenced above also found that 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Google Featured Snippet, which is a special summary box that Google sometimes includes at the top of search listings. Sometimes called “Quick Answers,” these summaries are selected from a website and include a link back to the source.

To be selected for a Featured Snippet, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing many of the things we’ve already talked about—provide clear, concise answers to your audience’s commonly asked questions—plus, you’ll want to structure your content so that people and search engines can easily understand it. This means using heading tags, lists (when appropriate), and structured data like schema. “Schema” refers to a vocabulary of tags you can put in the code of your page to help search engines identify parts of your content. You can use it for product ratings, recipe times and calories, event dates and locations, prices for a product or service, and much more.

Here’s a great guide to using schema and structured formatting to get featured snippets—implementing these strategies will help both with your regular search results and voice search.

Continue to focus on digital marketing and regular ol’ SEO.

When it comes down to it, sites that focus on providing great digital content and getting it out there through solid digital marketing efforts do better in voice search. Websites with high Domain Authority, social engagement, and rankings on regular organic search results are going to find it easier to achieve voice search results. Put time and effort towards building a strong website and marketing strategy—not only will you be able to take better advantage of voice search opportunities, but you’ll get more out of your online efforts, period.

We can help you develop a marketing strategy to achieve your business goals in 2019 and beyond. Let’s talk!

Haley Kuehl headshot

Written by Haley Kuehl

“Your website is the face of your brand online—I help put it in the spotlight.”