Integrating voice technology into a marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. By optimizing content with structured data, it can qualify for featured snippets and voice answers, providing more opportunities for your audience to access your content.
Earlier this year at the Google I/O 2019 conference, several announcements were made relating to new tools and methods that developers can use to facilitate integration of in-app features and content optimization. Google is trying to encourage development for Google Assistant, Google Home, Android devices, Google Lens and integrating augmented reality features in Google search. This shows that they are proactively thinking about creating better experiences for their users while providing new ways for developers, and even marketers, to leverage these technologies and engage their audiences.
But where to start? Any company with a website that produces content can optimize it using structured data (or Schema), a type of markup that can help search engines better index each page, providing improved results for searchers. Leveraging this in combination with a strong content and technical SEO strategy, can help marketers capture a larger audience through featured snippets and voice answers.
Here are six ways to optimize existing content for answer engines:
What better way to leverage voice technology than with audio content? According to the Reuters Institute’s 2019 Digital News Report, 36% of international respondents had listened to a podcast in the month prior to the survey. This increases to 50% for those under 35 years of age.
For example, a search for the Ctrl Alt Delete podcast in Google Search vs. Google Assistant:
Either way, the searcher will find what they’re looking for. It’s not hard to notice, however, the difference in length of the query and the specificity of the answer. Google Assistant conveniently provides the most recent episode.
2. How-to Content
The web is packed with how-to articles, images and videos. As algorithms and technology evolve, so do the expectations of searchers. They want to get the best answer, from the best source, right away, and not have to scroll through pages of search results. The good news is that Google search is now supporting optimized FAQ and How-to content.
How-to structured data can be added to how-to articles, so that they can qualify for featured snippets and voice results. Google presents these results as rich cards, text boxes and lists.
In Google Actions, the how-to template can be used to optimize videos so they qualify to appear in position zero and voice results.
Finding answers on Frequently Asked Question pages can be especially laborious on mobile. Generally, a terrible user experience, these pages tend to be long and the only way to find anything is to do a “find on page.” Structured data and voice technology changes that. Helping searchers quickly find the answers they’re looking for can help them make better informed decisions, whether it be during discovery, pre- or post-purchase.
Here are two examples of how optimizing FAQ content can be useful for the searcher. On the left, see how a company’s full list of FAQs can appear directly in search results. On the right, see how specific answers appear in Google Assistant and Google Search.
As far as optimizing for rich results and voice technology goes, recipes should be at the top of the list for any food and beverage company publishing content. Popular recipe searches will have cards, lists, images, reviews and videos scattered throughout organic results, and searchers are trained to skim until they find the perfect recipe. But in voice, potentially only the top ten results will be listed.
When customers search online, they may be at different stages of their shopping journey. Providing them with key information such as ratings, pricing, images, descriptions and availability, can help them make better, more informed purchase decisions. eCommerce sites and any business selling a product or service online should implement product schema markup. Not only will this help products appear in rich and voice results, but it can also optimize content for image and visual search results.
Products can be optimized for Google text, image or voice search:
6. Speakable (BETA)
For those who publish regular news articles, appearing in Google News is likely on their priority list. But what about optimizing for voice? The BETA version of Speakable structured data was released in 2018 and provides content producers the ability to markup sections of news stories for Google Home and Google Assistant. From a recent SEMrush study, most of Google Home and Google HomeMini voice search results are approximately 42 words. It’s important to keep this top of mind when selecting content for audio answers.
This list is by no means all encompassing. There are other content types that can be optimized for rich results and voice technology like reviews, events and courses, to name a few. Qualifying for rich results, however, not only requires the implementation of structured data and high quality content, but websites must also be optimized for site speed, security and performance. Getting this combination right, can also improve UX and aid in increasing engagement metrics.
There are other more elaborate ways to extend into the world of voice, but this is the best place to start. And, by leveraging existing content, half the work is already done.
Is your website performing as well the content you’re creating? Check out our new Technical SEO Checklist that will help you optimize your site and content to qualify for position zero featured snippets and voice answers.