Some aspects of Artificial Intelligence seem a little Star Trekky, something that might be feasible on TV but not in real life. But do not treat voice activated search as a surreal fantasy from the future, because it is here now. And voice activated search is real. What seemed like a sci-fi gimmick is now part of everyday life and your business had best be prepared.

Voice Activated Search is Growing

Data suggests that about 55 million American households will own a smart speaker whether it be Amazon Alexa, Google Home or another brand by 2022. And then of course there are smart phones, which let us talk to Siri or Microsoft Cortana.

ComScore predicted that by close of 2020, 50% of all searches will be via voice; and 30% of searches will take place without a screen. Not surprisingly, the younger the demo, the more voice search was used. Updated statistics have been delayed by the pandemic, but the trend is clear. What steps can a business owner take to make sure that they appear for these searches?

Any business that is involved with search needs to understand that search engines are concerned with intent. What is it that the person conducting the search wants? It is not always evident, especially for a machine. Quite often voice search is for a specific piece of information. What crucial information do your prospects need to make an informed decision about your business? What’s your unique selling proposition, and is it clear from looking at the content on your site? These are all questions that you should anticipate and answer.

Strategies To Rank

Another way to think about this is Frequently Asked Questions. FAQ’s are more important than ever. When people search your business, they are most likely to ask those questions of the search engine. Don’t hide obvious information such as address, phone number and hours of operation. If you don’t have a list of FAQ’s ask your customers why they use your business, and what problems you solve for them. Include that in your content.

Write clearly and conversationally.  When creating copy for written search we often generate a lot of information on the page to answer a relatively short question. Keywords, even long-tail, probably won’t average more than 3 – 5 words in written search. By contrast, voice search tends to be in full sentences, such as “Who is the best dentist in Suffern, New York?”. Usually, the answers are not more than a few words, or people would not pay attention. Phrases should be short and simple. Generally, voice activated search answers are at no more than a 9th grade reading level.

Review your featured snippets. In voice activated search there is often only 1 answer. Think of a smart speaker. In order to get to the “position zero” you need to write in the manner that questions are answered, with featured snippets. Pose the questions on your site as a sub-headline and then answer them. Voice queries will be more conversational than written queries, reflect that in your tone of voice.

Site Speed

As always, site speed is just as important in Voice Activated search as written search. How would you react if you asked Alexa for today’s weather and it took 15 seconds for her to answer? You would probably have left the room before she spoke. Just as with typed Search, slow answers only lead to bounces. Sites that load quickly will be favored by search engines.

Make sure to optimize for local search. Many voice searches are local inquiries, “Where is the nearest pizza shop”? Make sure you have optimized Local SEO. Check to see that your Google My Business listing is up to date, with correct address, phone number, hours etc. If you don’t have many reviews work on increasing them. When answering questions about your business try including the phrase “near me”.

Voice activated search is a reality. If you appeal to a younger audience voice activated search is crucial. As people look for time-savings and efficiencies voice activated search will become even more prevalent. If you prepare your website properly you can benefit from the trend. If not, you may be left behind.