voice searchIn the past, online retailers have mostly focused on short-tail keywords in their SEO strategy. Short-tail keywords are various general phrases that a customer might type into a search bar. For example, “Nike Sneakers” would be a short-tail keyword that a consumer would type into Google. This method for SEO has worked well in the past and many people still search for products this way. But with smartphones and other voice technology devices changing the way we find information, retailers need to incorporate long-tail keywords in their SEO strategy. Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases such as “Where can I buy Blue Nike Air Retro Jordan’s?”

By 2020, as much as half of all searches will be conducted by voice.

Understandably so, it’s faster and more convenient to speak than to type. It’s hands-free and removes the hassle of unlocking a screen or computer. Opening a browser and typing words in the search bar will be a way of the past as voice search continues to grow.

On top of that, people are buying more voice technology devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home to keep at home. Amazon has already incorporated shopping features with Alexa and even specific sales for Alexa users to help drive adoption. Help Alexa help consumers find your products by making it super easy for her to find them. That means incorporating more long-tail keywords in your product descriptions and titles. Here are a few ways to prepare your business for these changes:

FAQ Focused.

Relevant content has always been important to search engine optimization strategies. This means that content-rich FAQ pages are even more critical. From Alexa to Siri to Okay Google, consumers are searching for information in the form of questions. This year, US smart speaker owners are using their living-room-personal-assistants to ask general questions 60% of the time, which is more often than weather inquiries or song requests.

Be thoughtful about the kind of information you include on your FAQ page. Consider the most helpful questions your customers might have and layout the information in a question-and-answer format. Think about how your customers might ask the question, conversationally.

Make it Mobile-friendly.

Many voice searches will be conducted on a mobile device, so optimizing your site for mobile is a must. User experience should be thought of holistically, with vertical screen viewing in mind. Your navigation, drop-down menus, and product pages should be very easy to see and use on phones and tablets. Clearly, these customers are low on time and/or patience. Rather than lose them with a complicated site, keep the site clean and easy to digest, and minimize steps to checkout.

Live for Long-tail.

While text searches involve typing, and are therefore typically shorter and made up of a few words or one word, voice queries are more conversational in composition. The content on your website – and especially on your FAQ page – should follow suit.

Think of different ways someone could search for your product. Make sure your product pages are descriptive and casual. Instead of listing all the features, try writing a story around each one. These long-tail key phrases are usually more specific and convert better.

Intent Indicator.

Voice search gives you a window into the mind of your consumers, and allows you an opportunity to better understand their intent. Let’s say you sell women’s boots. A (typed) search query for “women’s boots” might be written the same for one person who is looking to buy a pair of hiking boots for their next trip, and another way for someone who is looking for images of hiking boots to pin to their outdoorsy inspo board. With voice text, you’ll likely get more details about intent. In this case, the first person might ask, “what are the best hiking boots for ice-climbing?” Knowing which types of questions drive people to click on your website gives you a better opportunity to better market your product.

Let’s face it. Voice search is the new typed search, and it isn’t going anywhere. Google Home and Amazon Echo sales are expected to exceed 24 million this year. These days, we can talk to our devices like we talk to a peer. We’re asking computers to talk us through a recipe in real-time. We’re being spoon-fed directions to a hotel, from a voice in our phones. We’re posing questions and follow up questions about products we might want to purchase. Your online content and site layout should reflect this shift toward voice search.

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