How to Optimize Your Website for Smart Speakers and Voice-Activated Devices

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Do you use voice search on your phone or on an in-home device like Google Home or Amazon Echo?

More people do this year than last year – and that’s a trend that’s likely to continue. As of March 2017, 12% of American households have a voice assistant.


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    Some are named Siri and others are named Alexa…

    But they’re all doing the same basic thing. They’re providing voice-activated, localized search results that use casual human speech and questions instead of traditional keywords.

    In other words, instead of going to Google and typing:

    Best delivery pizza Chicago

    People are saying:

    Okay Google, what’s the best pizza delivery place?

    Virtual assistant use GPS to provide local results, and they read the intent behind the questions we ask them. That means that it’s no longer enough to use the keywords people type on your website.

    You need to consider the things they say, too.

    What Keywords Should You Be Using?

    The good news is that keyword stuffing is dead. You don’t have to spend your time worrying about keyword density, and you certainly don’t need to tie yourself into verbal knots trying to use an awkward long-tail keyword 30 times in a thousand words of content.

    Does that mean you can ignore keywords?

    Of course not, but it does mean that you need to be smart about how you use them. You need to find long-tail keywords that people use to search businesses like yours and use them on your website in ways that give them prominence for virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri.

    Long-tail keywords should include specific information about your business, including local words like your city or neighborhood. They’re the words that will help smart speakers and virtual assistants find you even if the speaker doesn’t use those words.

    How Can You Find Long-Tail Keywords?

    You might be wondering where you can go to find long-tail keywords – and if you’re not already using them on your site, this is an essential question to answer.

    Fortunately, it’s not a complicated process, and it shouldn’t be. There are several free tools you can use, and some of them don’t even require you to go any further than the Google home page.

    1. Let Google autofill suggest long-tail keywords. When you start typing in Google’s search box, you get a list of suggested searches that pop up automatically. As you type, the suggested search terms change. These lists – which are based on search volume – can help you identify long-tail keywords to use on your website.
    2. Another Google tip involves scrolling down to the bottom of the search engine results page and checking out the related searches. You’ll see a list of words in bright blue with a headline that starts, “Searches related to” and then lists the keyword that you originally searched. These terms are also known as LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing, and they can add context and meaning to your website.
    3. Try Ubersuggest, a free tool that suggests long-tail keywords for your business based on an existing keyword. It’s simple to use and can provide you with useful ideas to build your site’s SEO for voice. It even links out to Google and GoogleTrends to make it simple to dig a little deeper on any suggested keyword.
    4. Speaking of GoogleTrends, you may want to try it, too. This is another free tool that gives you the opportunity to gage a keyword’s popularity before you add it to your site.
    5. Consider asking your customers how they’d search for you if they were using a smart speaker or virtual assistant. Even an informal poll like this can help you choose the right keywords.

    As you compile your list of keywords, try to add some stats and data that will help you determine which keywords you should focus on. You can use that information when you start to revamp your site for voice search.

    Incorporate New Keywords into Your Site

    Earlier, I said that keyword stuffing is dead – and it is. Remember that.

    When you start to add new keywords to your site, resist the urge to go overboard. All the search options we’ve mentioned are looking for relevance, not volume.

    In other words, you shouldn’t be trying to pound people over the head with your keywords. It’s important to use them – but in a smart way that leaves your website readable and useful to potential customers.

    Sometimes, the keywords that you find might sound awkward. You don’t want to force yourself to use phrases that sound unnatural on your site, nor do you want to tie yourself into linguistic notes trying to make them fit your existing copy.

    If the keywords you find work as topics of Frequently Asked Questions, then using them there can be a quick and easy way to incorporate your new keywords into your site. And if a topic merits more in-depth coverage, consider writing a blog post about it or using it in a key spot on your home page or on a product page.

    Keep Your Local SEO Updated

    Because a big percentage of voice-activated searches have local intent (40% according to BrightLocal) it’s essential to make sure that your entire site is optimized for local search.

    That means using local keywords, linking to local authority sites, and claiming your listings in online directories and on review sites like Yelp.

    You’ll also want to make sure that your NAP listings are uniform and that your online presence is coherent and designed to help local customers find you.

    It’s a Whole New World of Search…

    … And you don’t want to be left behind. The likelihood is that the percentage of people who search for your business using smart speakers, virtual assistants, and voice searches will increase in the coming months and years. Some local businesses may be caught unawares – but you won’t be if you follow the advice in this article and start optimizing for voice now.

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