Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Voice-enabled devices have become all the rage today. According to one study, almost 40% of internet users in the US operate a voice assistant at least one time a month, and that number increases to 55% when it comes to people who use voice search to ask questions. Some of that growth is organic, but much of it is also driven by the desire of consumers to be able to interact with electronic devices of all types without having to touch them except when absolutely necessary.
Combined, all those factors mean that companies wanting to be visible on the internet must optimize their website and other internet assets to be found and engaged with by customers using their voices. When done well, that strategy will certainly lead to more leads and engagement, and ultimately more revenue as the conversions continue to rise. Here are some actionable steps you can use to optimize your website.
1. Answer user questions
The easiest way to get this contextual content is to set out to write rich and insightful answers to questions that users often have, such that your web pages naturally contain a lot of the relevant information that a person searching a particular term would be interested in. Focus on writing content that answers “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” “Why” and “How” questions.
Remember that the more often (and the longer) searchers engage with your pages that are shown to them after a search, the more relevant Google will consider them to be, and the higher the chances of the page being shown to subsequent users. If you write particularly insightful content, your webpage might even get featured as a snippet, which will give you an immense advantage over others competing for those keywords. On the other hand, if you use clickbait and fail to provide value, your webpage will be deemed irrelevant and be given less exposure as a result.
2. Create conversational and natural-sounding content
There was a time when the orthodoxy in the Search Engine Optimization field was to create page after page on your website filled with specific keywords that users might search for in Google. That approach has waned in popularity for a wide range of reasons, but it’s even more irrelevant with the rise of voice search, given that people who use voice search do so in markedly different ways than they would search for something on the Google homepage. Most voice searches are framed as questions, not single words or phrases.
That means that to be the website that Google or any other search provider decides to serve up in response to a question, there’ll need to be sufficient contextual relevance in your page. Keywords are still relevant, but conversational, long-tail ones are what you need here, just as a user is likely to use them in their question to Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa. Be sure to do your keyword research with this in mind to be sure that you’re focusing your efforts on remaining search engine optimized in the future.
3. Build out a schema markup
Here’s where it gets a bit (but not overly, don’t worry) technical. Schema markups are, at their core, maps of your website. They provide the structure of the webpages and label different categories and pages with summary versions of their content to make it easy for search engines to identify and store the information as they crawl your site. Several studies have shown significant increases in SEO after implementing a comprehensive schema strategy.
When you search for a product, the Google page often shows whether it’s in stock, and at what price, in different stores — schemas are part of the way that integration is implemented. To highlight how important having a good schema is, Google launched a tool — Structured Data Testing Tool — to make it easier for people to check how well their schemas conform with the required standards. The tool reviews the markup of your website and points out any errors for ease of remediation.
Google is also launching a Speakable Schema tool to further optimize markup schemas for voice search. Though it’s currently only available for news sites, getting the normal schema done and done right will certainly keep your business ahead of the curve and visible to potential customers in the meantime.