Estimated read time: 7 minutes
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This has been a bit of the year of voice SEO for me. It’s definitely something companies need to be aware of. Even with the problems of voice assistance. Seriously, Siri doesn’t hear me correctly or give me a good answer maybe half of the time.
But, nonetheless, I dove into voice SEO full steam this year. I spoke at Content Marketing World on the topic. Slides here. I also gave a virtual keynote on the topic in Singapore. Of course, all my podcasts are available via voice assistants. Just ask Siri to “Play the Christoph Trappe: Business Storytelling Podcast.”
I also published a guest blog on the Content Marketing Institute blog discussing the pillars of voice SEO and voice strategy in general.
Voice experts Scot and Susan Westwater joined me on the Business Storytelling Podcast earlier this year to discuss voice SEO and more as well.
Some basics around voice SEO
I cover some additional areas in this article but at the core voice SEO is mostly about following best SEO practices, including:
- Keyword research (I’m currently a big fan of Keywords Everywhere on Chrome. 100,000 keywords cost $10.)
- Writing with SEO in mind
Also, we need to make content production with SEO in mind simple for the creators. Hamlet Batista, CEO at www.ranksense.com, joined me on a livestream to discuss ways to make SEO simpler. While his area of expertise focuses around e-commerce, the concept of making SEO a bigger and easier part of the process can help us with voice SEO as well.
The next two sections discuss other observations related to voice strategy, voice SEO and related topics.
How many search results are really shown in voice search? [A test]
I know that voice SEO is a bit of a buzzword now:
- Write for voice because people now say phrases – as opposed to type keywords – into Google or Siri
- Translation: Write conversationally.
Did we really need voice search to tell us to stop writing less than conversational? Apparently so.
So let’s stop being so stilted and overly formal.
And then I heard somebody say that voice search only gives you one result! 1!
I thought: Oh, crap. It’s getting even more difficult to build and keep an audience.
But is that even true? Does voice search really only return 1 result? Everyone has to be No. 1 now. Ugh. Impossible. Obviously.
Of course, the answer is: It depends … on what you are searching for. And on what device. Using a Alexa speaker certainly gives you just one result.
But that’s not necessarily the case when you use Siri or simply voice dictate directly into Google search on Safari.
I tested this. Searching for “principles” via Siri I got one result:
Of course, that’s not a long-tail keyword at all and most content creators shouldn’t really try to rank for it. Wikipedia was the one result.
Then when I searched for the principles of content marketing in Siri I got several results. Here’s a screen shot:
The top hit is a 2013 article from the Content Marketing Institute. I’m writing this 6 years later. It’s not always about the publish date with SEO, but about the relevance. Of course, in this case I still have to click and read so the whole voice experience isn’t 100 percent.
So that’s more than one result. Probably because it’s a very specific search phrase.
Then I went to Safari on my iPhone and did the same search. There were the regular amount of results – including a Google Snippet.
I also saw a range of number of principles of content marketing:
I’m sure if I start writing mine out it’ll be a different number. Ahh, the beauty of ever-evolving field, which content marketing certainly is.
Takeaways: Voice search SEO results
If you try to rank for something very specific there is a chance that there will only be the top result displayed.
Definitely that’s a concern in this scenario.
But of course, trying to rank for something super broad isn’t a great strategy for most brands. Try to rank for a host of good and relevant long tail keywords.
Instead of trying to rank for:
Try to rank for:
Blue lollipops with stripes.
You get the idea.
Voice search might be the future, but is it the present?
Sure, people are now using voice search when they are looking for answers on the web. But it’s not perfect… (yet?).
I use those tools but that doesn’t mean I use them only. Sometimes they work and sometimes they leave me hanging. Know the tools and use the right ones in a given situation.
For example, the other day, somebody was talking on Facebook about how Uber doesn’t tell drivers that a ride has been scheduled before it’s time to pick the rider up. That’s true and I’ve blogged about that. But Lyft does and when I need to schedule a ride I usually always use Lyft. That way I know whether a driver has accepted it or not.
But just because I prefer Lyfts over Ubers and sometimes use rental cars, doesn’t mean I won’t take cabs. So this happened and I posted the following on Facebook. On a trip, we were trying to the grab airport shuttle (option 1 in this scenario), but it never arrived. Option 2 – Lyft – also no luck. Option 3 – nearby cabs.
The whole voice search options are similar. I use voice commands to search for things. I’ve even used it to call 9-1-1 before from my Apple Watch. But often voice commands aren’t that easy and don’t work. And yet, I voice dictate many of my blog posts.
Issues that I’ve run into:
The phone doesn’t hear you correctly. Going back and correcting the copy can be harder than just typing it in from the start.
Somebody else was talking nearby and the phone transcribes that! That happens more than I thought was possible actually. Super annoying.
And then depending on what app you use, that’s not perfect either. Siri, for example, sometimes gives you the cliff notes version of the result and you can’t even click for more. So now I have to go open Safari anyway and type it in again. Or voice speak it again.
Sometimes the transcription is totally irrelevant and you still have to type it in.
The biggest way to be ready for voice search is to simply write in a conversational way and use the words that your readers use to search for a topic.
That’s not something new in digital marketing and the only difference is that now we may have to write even more conversational! Yay! That’s good for search, voice search and readibility in general!
For now, while voice search may be trending up and certainly is an option for users, for content marketers, don’t overthink it more than you would think about how to tell your story and share your content in the most easily consumed way. As always make it part of your integrated strategy and share content that is actually worth consuming.
Some of the content in this article was previously written but republished here with relevant updates to keep it current.