Voice Marketing Starts with Smart SEO

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Photo above by Ben Kolde.

Voice search is a hot topic in the search marketing world—and with good reason. Nearly 70 million American adults own one or more smart speakers, an install base that grew 40% in 2018.

Aside from the rise of smart speakers, smartphones’ built-in voice assistants are steadily getting more capable, leading to a sharp increase in voice searches. However, few businesses provide correct answers to basic searches for information. A recent study found that only 3.8% of businesses had the correct information for voice searches.

So, how can enterprises better leverage voice search for brand marketing?

To start, winning in voice search demands many of the same strategies as search engine optimization (SEO), as the goal in both cases is to get your content to rank position zero on search engine results pages (SERPs) by focusing on authority.

The Value of a Top SERP Rank Position

A top rank position has always been the holy grail of SEO because the first few links on the SERP get the lion’s share of clicks.

In voice search, clicks (and website traffic) are not the objective. But smart speakers and voice assistants will typically “answer” a voice query with the content that appears in rank position zero and tell users where the answer originated.

For these reasons, a top SERP rank is extremely valuable in voice. And building authority—the single most impactful component of enterprise SEO—is an essential piece of the puzzle.

The Importance of Authority

Authority, in SEO terms, has two meanings. The first is topical authority: how relevant your website content is for a particular theme or topic. The second is off-page authority, reflected in the number of links your pages receive from other sites.

The first, topical authority, is what you can control the most. How often does your website discuss a topic? How comprehensively is that topic covered? How many relevant keywords does your content contain? Search algorithms look to all of these on-page elements to gauge topical authority.

Search is only valuable to consumers as long as it provides useful, trustworthy answers, which is why Google and other search engines prize authority. They want to offer high-quality answers to their users—and you can facilitate that happening in voice searches by serving as an authority within your vertical.

Authority Building: Tips and Tricks

The key to gaining authority is to zero in on particular topics (or themes), especially if you have budget constraints. As such, it is critical to focus on one theme to start, with the goal being the mastery of a single theme before moving on to others.

Themes will vary, of course, depending on what industry you’re in. For example, an ecommerce site that sells footwear might target “best quality sandals for women.”

To build authority for this theme and get noticed by voice bots, your objective should be to cover the entire purchase journey, using natural language as appropriate.

To that end, consider what kinds of spoken queries may come up at the start of the sandal purchase process—such as, “Is it best to wear shoes or sandals to the beach?”

Then move down the funnel, so to speak, with other content types. Two, in particular, can give you comprehensive topical coverage: comparison content and review content.

  • To build comparison content, focus on comparing your own products. Consider highlighting attributes and use cases.
  • To generate more reviews, you may want to have your employees author content so it is authentic. Have them describe their own personal experiences to provide a multifaceted perspective.

Also important in building authority are gap analyses. See where your content ranks well and where you’re getting beaten by the competition; then, develop a content calendar to shore up any gaps.

Consistent content production and a focus on great SEO are what’s necessary to move rank. Improving authority will land you in position zero for your target keywords—helping you get noticed in both typed and voice searches.

Michael Bertini is the senior search strategist at iQuanti Inc. With more than 14 years of experience in SEO, Michael is an expert in enterprise-level search tactics including link-building, content strategy and technical implementation. Michael has consulted for brands such as Sallie Mae, Walmart, Chase, REI, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Allstate, American Express, Bloomberg, Verizon, Staples and the NBA. His expertise has been cited in top publications, including the New York Times, The Financial Brand, Search Engine Journal and many more.