Prepare Yourself for New Voice Search Queries
We all know that search-friendly requirements constantly change. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practitioners talk about recent Google or Bing updates all the time. As a writer, you need to keep the larger search picture in mind as you write your web copy.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) drives search functionality. As search results appear from queries, AI refines what to show the next time someone asks a similar question. And AI also learns personal preferences for you, the searcher. Search engines have learned to isolate terms and perform a search on a single word rather than an entire phrase.
In the early days, you had to tell a search engine exactly what you were looking for and often refine with and / or qualifiers. If you were looking for a website address, you had to type in the entire web address like www.google.com. Now all you need to do is type Google to get the same results. Near me wasn’t an option for a pizza search. It would have been something like "pizza parlor and Mill Valley or Corte Madera," for example. Even with those choices, search engines had to work hard hoping the local business had an address. Results were uncertain and often off the mark.
Because of current search algorithm sophistication people searching on the web receive more targeted results almost instantly.
From Web Browser to Voice
The changes in how search engines operate have made voice searches easier to perform with instantaneous results. People now expect simple and fast results. Voice search is providing answers one at a time.
As search algorithms have expanded in function and capability, web browsing has become simpler for users.
What is Conversational Search?
Conversational search, or voice search, parses entire sentences and responds, in kind, with a human-like string of words. Techopedia gives a brief definition:
"Conversational search is a new kind of philosophy for human/computer interaction. The principle behind conversational search is that a user can speak a sentence into a device, and that device can respond with a full sentence. It also applies this principle to searches: where traditional searches analyzed individual keywords, a conversational search looks at the whole string of words, to return human-like responses."
When you ask a question of conversation search, it will fill in words like is to give you a complete answer. For example, the response to “How tall is the Eiffel Tower?” on Google is not just “984”, but “The Eiffel Tower is 984 feet tall.”
The other side is a trend towards personalization. Google matches search results to correspond to your personal search queries and where you are at the moment. So, your French restaurant query results will be different depending on whether you are in San Francisco or London. Every time you perform a search query, AI adds information to your search history.
Web Content and Conversational Search
Your web-based audience is looking for information that answers their questions. For your content to provide answers in conversational search results you need to approach your content from a customer centric focus.
Because search is based on algorithms, your content must answer crucial customer questions. If you develop a strategy that approaches content from this viewpoint, your answers are more likely to appear in search results.
Follow content creation steps that meet current search engine optimization standards to better your chances at delivering the answer.
1. Focus on one topic at a time.
Topic relevance is a key indicator for search engines. When your content focuses on one topic, you make it easier for search engines to know the subject of your content.
2. Use natural language.
Create content that echoes natural speech. Write as though you are speaking to one person face-to-face. Concentrate on showing how your product or service helps your prospective buyer.
3. Organize your content.
Use headers and sub-headers to organize the content. When you break down your topic into related subtopics, both search engines and site visitors better understand your solution. In addition, breaking up your content into succinct paragraphs makes it easier to read.
4. Format schema.org structured data.
Structured data helps search engines understand exactly what your content is by adding context. This makes it easier for search algorithms to sort your data and deliver the correct answer to a potential customer. Google provides a Structured Data Markup Helper or you can use a plugin like Wordlift on a WordPress site.
5. Implement an answer-first strategy.
Answer a question. Resist the temptation to show how smart you are or how your product is the best thing since sliced bread. When you shift the paradigm, your content leads to more engagement.
6. Optimize for mobile and local search.
Many voice searches originate on mobile devices. It is crucial to have your website mobile friendly. Even though you may do business globally, search engines start with where you are geographically.
7. Claim and optimize your business listings.
List your business with Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, and Yelp. Make sure your business information is consistent with name, address, and phone (NAP) across all business listings including social media. This helps voice search call your business or provide driving directions to where you are.
8. Optimize for rich snippets.
40.7% of all voice search answers come from a featured snippet, the short answers in a box that appear above traditional search results. Start by getting one rich snippet for an aspect of your business. If a page has results in a rich snippet, it will most likely appear in voice answers.
The New Search: Answer Engine Optimization (AEO)
Answer Engine Optimization (AEO), also called personal assistant search optimization (PASO), aims to position content as the source for answers given by personal assistants. Competition is stiff because voice search returns only one answer. Your content won’t be second or third or even on the traditional first page of search results. Voice search is predicted to surpass regular search in just two years from now.
A New Challenge for Content Writers
Writing content in this competitive environment requires attention to data management and direct answers written in a conversational style. Voice queries are often long and involved unlike typed search queries.
The challenge for writers is to combine a friendly tone with data-driven content, organized and then structured as schema.org data.
A basic knowledge of SEO has been a growing skill for writers to help clients reach and convert customers. Now, with conversational search integrating writing skills with search optimization, knowledge is even more important.
Educate yourself about PASO. Then, educate your business clients about the importance of integrating PASO strategies into their website. Work in tandem with website managers and SEO practitioners to optimize each piece of content to provide an answer optimized for that one conversational search answer.
Finally, correct grammar and spelling is essential for top rankings. ProWritingAid helps you get your content search ready.