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Understand voice search to create content that connects

Voice search is something many people either love or hate. Maybe you love asking your smart speaker what the weather will be like tomorrow or what movie that actor was in. It’s also possible smart assistants make you want to throw your hands up in the air because there is now no corner of our lives devoid of technology. Either way, smart speakers and voice search are here to stay because they do more than just answer our questions about the weather—and that’s a good thing for content marketers. Here’s why:

Make your content more human

Optimizing your content using keywords that your audience is searching for is not a new idea. But writing with the goal to jam as many relevant keywords as possible to reach your audience does not necessarily make for exciting content. Voice search, however, is changing SEO best practices. Voice searches are typically delivered as full questions like, “What’s the best coffee shop near me?” as opposed to “Coffee shops West Seattle.” This means that SEO for voice would prompt you to create content that answers the user’s question in the way it’s most likely to be asked. And while you’re considering SEO for voice, remember that with voice search, users are typically being served one result at a time if they’re searching on mobile as opposed to seeing an entire page of search results. The stakes of being one of the first results are even higher. Simply put, you should be creating content that reflects the way people talk, not the way people type. With this in mind, you’re incentivized to make your content more human. Not only is that content going to be more easily consumed, it’s going to be content that keeps the conversation going, not content that simply answers a question.

Better customer insights, stronger intent

Voice queries tend to be longer and more conversational than traditional text searches. For example, if you’re looking for dog-friendly places to eat in Seattle, you might type in “Dog friendly restaurants Seattle.” That’s four words that use the most direct way to express your question. However, imagine what you’d ask Siri or Alexa. Mine sounds like “Are there any dog friendly restaurants near me?” SEO, SEM, and voice search expert Purna Virji points out in her study of Microsoft Cortana queries that voice searches increasingly have a high degree of self-selection and specificity—which is great for marketers. Having a clearer understanding of the intent, desires, and problems your customers are facing allows you to optimize your content to connect on a deeper level. In other words, natural language—like what you get with voice search—is a much better indicator of someone’s intent when compared to what they might type into a search engine. For content marketers, this creates an incredible opportunity to tailor content and make sure it’s reaching people in the right way, at the right time.

Why it matters for B2B

Voice search has now become commonplace in how we search for restaurants or find out what the weather is like. And while B2B marketing is somewhat more insulated to technological changes than the consumer landscape, voice search is still something you should keep in mind. Text searches are pretty straightforward, as Hannah Cohen points out in her analysis of voice search in B2B marketing. With text searches, the route you take to find the content you’re looking for is simple. With voice search, the search process is more meandering. Someone may start “by asking about a non-B2B topic, but the answer to that question can lead them down a path where they end up searching for a B2B keyword,” explains Cohen. This means that there are ample opportunities for you to reach customers you weren’t looking for in the first place or customers who aren’t even at the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, and you should plan accordingly. If you keep voice search in mind when you create content, you’ll end up with more “human” content and you’ll gain greater insight into how your customers talk about you, a win-win.

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