If you want your website to be optimized for conversational search, you are preparing for the future of SEO. Voice search accounts for one out of five Google searches, and with trends going the way they are, this will only increase with time. Conversational search is a casual, and accessible way for people to interact with the internet hands-free, and allows the user to have a frictionless experience while still using the internet. As technology gets better, conversational search is going to be even more prevalent in everyday life. Technology’s goal is to make lives easier with simple-to-handle products that are accessible to all. Conversational search is a big part of this process of making sure technology can be used by the largest number of people.
For those who don’t know, conversational search in ecommerce refers to the use of simple sentences and natural speech in algorithms to help search engines understand and answer simple human questions. The reason it has to be “natural” is that algorithms need to follow the syntax and grammatical structure of everyday speech in order to comprehend what a user is asking them. Asking Siri, “What is the weather like today,” is an example, because there is no need to use words like “like”, but it’s a natural part of human speech. Conversational search helps naturalism work fluidly. This is a bit different than the old ways of SEO, which followed keywords and other practices to boost ratings. Below we will go through the ways you can use conversational search and get a leg up on the competition.
When you think search engine, think search intent. Behind every action on the internet is the intent of explaining why you are looking up a specific thing. When you are looking up information about a new TV, there is intent in your search to buy this TV, maybe go to a store to purchase it online. These other bits of information are crucial for conversational search because they help narrow down the search. When you’re doing research online, the more words and context you add to your search helps to create stronger search intent, because this information is necessary to narrow down the search accurately. If you are searching up “tv”, you aren’t going to get a specific answer, compared to “flatscreen 68” plasma tv”, whose results will be a lot more specific (and therefore, a lot more rewarding and less frustrating to the user).
This specificity is very important when it comes to building a business (either online or in-person) because specificity is what brings in new customers. Conversational search feeds off the specificity of a business’s products and brings somebody to your website. Specificity also helps to fill in a niche in the marketplace and gives you the strength to stand out amongst your competitors.
But if you feel a little overwhelmed, and don’t know how to start describing your products with specificity, don’t worry, the best way is written right below: who, what, when, where, why, and how. These six simple words will get you right on track to success.
Answering the Five Ws and How
The Five Ws and How (Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How) are not just questions for journalists—they are also important when it comes to fleshing out your business’s marketing needs. Conversational search is all about taking those five Ws and how they define a user’s wants and needs while searching on the internet for a new product or service. When you are looking up a pizza place on your phone with Siri, you wouldn’t ask, “pizza”, you would ask, “Is there pizza nearby?” which helps to add an element of specificity that is designed to give you the best experience possible when using the search engine.
That’s why, when designing your site, you want to give each product of your website exact details that will be noticed by the search engine online. These details (as said before) will help fill a niche. The conversational search uses these details to help answer specific questions people ask, which help to satisfy the intent behind a person’s questions. As somebody with a product, ask yourself these six (well, really seven) questions:
- Who is this product for?
- What is this product?
- Why would somebody want to buy this product?
- Where could somebody get this product?
- When could somebody get this product and when could somebody use this product?
- How could somebody use this product?
Knowing the purpose of why your product stands out is the best way to sell it and grow your business. People want to buy things, it’s part of human nature. As the owner of a high-quality product, you are using conversational search to explain to users just why your product is the perfect choice for them.
Preparing to go Mobile
Tied along with voice assistance is the importance of mobile-friendly SEO. About 25% of all voice searches are made on mobile devices, and as smartphones become more accessible and cheaper, we can only assume this number will rise with time. Having a site that is mobile-friendly is necessary in today’s data-driven world. If your site is not mobile-friendly, there is a high chance that users on their phones will be too impatient to struggle to navigate your website and will simply move on to the next option.
Conversational search is particularly important on mobile when you take into consideration the fact that they are presumably looking for immediate information. Make sure your content is optimized with local searches in mind. These are called ‘micro-moments’ and are very important when thinking about the trajectory of SEO practices on mobile devices. Phrases such as, “nearby”, “close”, “local” need to be kept in mind, because you need to keep your user’s intention in mind. They want a product and they want it now. The immediacy of the internet on smartphones has brought the world literally to their fingertips, as a business owner you can help satisfy this need and grow your business by doing so.
Embedding Conversational Keywords
Conversational search keywords differ from the keywords you see in conventional SEO practices. As mentioned before, the questions you would ask through voice assistance are not simply, “pizza”, they usually are an entire sentence. These are also called ‘long-tail’, and the reason is that they are longer than the conventional keyword.
The best way to understand how to use conversational keywords is to keep semantics in mind. One of the major difficulties in the conversion from convention SEO practices to more voice assistant-focused SEO practices is the need to use a conversational tone that uses organic language. Keep in mind how people ask questions with conversational search in mind. What short phrases they would use to ask questions about your specific content, such as “Where can I buy handmade jewelry?”
When it comes to doing research for semantics, ask your friends or previous customers how they would ask their phone for a product of yours. This is a great way to start.
But once you have the information above, and are optimizing your content for local searches, how are you going to store it all? The answer is in a schema. A schema is a type of database that represents the storage in your database. When we are thinking specifically about conversational search, it’s a great way to have information that can be sent back to the user (such as a FAQ Schema) quickly. There are also different types of schema, but the one you should focus on is schema markup.
Schema markup is an HTML add-on that helps to boost your SEO rankings by giving more context about your content to search engines. This will not only help your business in voice queries but traditional searches as well.
Keep Your FAQs Page Updated
Back to FAQs, this page is a great way to answer conventional questions that people ask search engines via voice queries. An FAQ page can be people’s first experience on your website with the help of conversational search. Remember all those “who, what, where, when, why, and how” questions we were talking about before? A lot of them can be put on the FAQ page on your website.
When you write up the answers to these questions on your FAQ page, remember to use a conversational tone, because it’s that which will help attract users using voice queries to your site.
Achieving ‘Position Zero’
Google’s ‘position zero’ is a great way to take note of how people ask certain questions. Position zero is the little words featured at the top of a Google search results page. This is the information in conversational search that matters the most for search engines. They have also been called the “featured snippet” which highlights the most important information you can get from a search query. In other words, without this type of information, you would never get the correct search query.
Coincidentally, these snippets are usually used in voice queries as well. So, it’s important to do some research and learn what position zero phrases are used for your product or service, and then use the most popular keys in your industry to optimize your website by answering them. If you have the ability to achieve position zero on Google searches, you have the ability to get more users via conversational search.
Making Sure Your Listings are Updated
Regardless of what site it is—Yelp, Google My Business, etc, make sure all the information about your business is up to date.
Voice queries pick up information that is consistent and accurate. This can get nitpicky at times, the algorithm can even mix up “Ave” when compared to “Avenue”, so your information not only has to be accurate but has to reflect the way people speak and ask questions.
These ways to optimize your website for voice assistance have dramatic benefits for you and your business. Below are the crucial reasons why you need to optimize your website if you want to not only keep your business but watch it grow with the help of conversational search:
- Voice search tends to rank in the top 3 positions on search engine result pages (SERP). While your high-quality content is essential for getting higher ranks in search engines, sometimes that content needs a little push with exposure. It would be a shame to have your content floating on the internet unappreciated. Having your content optimized for voice search is the best way to get your content out there.
- Of course, what does it mean when your content is exposed to potential visitors to your site? Well, it’s a simple math equation: more visitors equals more conversations and more conversations equals more revenue; in other words, higher rankings start a snowball effect of goodness. Conversational searches help get the ball rolling and expose your business.
- The snowball effect is how you prove your authority to search engines. Boosting your revenue and rank means that you have more authority as a trusted website because it’s definitive proof that you are running a legitimate business with satisfied customers.
Voice search is quickly becoming an important way for people to interact with the internet, and as a business owner, you cannot wait as your competitors take advantage of this new and dramatic change to SEO practices. It might take a little while to get the results you have been looking for, but that does not change the fact that voice-assisted search results are the future of SEO and business marketing.
Of course, this is a lot to deal with, and catching up on SEO practices along with running a business can be an exhausting endeavor. Luckily, there are plenty of professional SEO agencies that are more than willing to help you and your business not only succeed and boost your SEO rankings but will also help you make your business stand out.