Optimizing Content for Natural Language Queries

Chuck Forbes - December 14, 2023

Voice search queries often differ from traditional text-based searches. Users tend to frame voice searches in a more conversational and natural manner. Therefore, it’s crucial to create content that aligns with how people speak. When doing this, you will likely need to focus on long-tail keywords and phrases that mimic the way your audience might verbally express their queries.

Voice search results often draw from featured snippets—concise, information-rich snippets that directly answer a user’s query. Structuring your content to provide clear and succinct answers can increase the likelihood of your content being featured in voice search results. Think about the common questions your audience might ask and create content that addresses those queries directly.

Here are a few examples from a home flooring company that show the difference between a voice search query and text-based searches:

  • Voice: “What are the pros and cons to installing a new wood floor throughout my entire home?”
  • Text: Pros and cons of wood floors
  • Voice: Are wooden floors harder to maintain over many years?
  • Text: Tips for cleaning wooden floors

You can see the customer may have the same question in mind, but will use voice search very differently then they would typing in a search query on Google, or another search engine.

You also need to consider the technical set-up for voice search optimization. Make sure your SEO team takes into consideration these factors:

  • Page Speed: Optimize your website’s loading speed, as slow-loading pages may lead to a poor user experience, especially in voice searches where users expect quick responses.
  • Mobile Optimization: Given that a significant portion of voice searches occurs on mobile devices, ensure your website is mobile-friendly and provides a seamless experience.
  • Local Optimization: Many voice searches are location-specific. Optimize your content for local searches by including location-based keywords. This is also a great time to ensure your Google My Business Profile is up-to-date and any other business listings your brand may have used in the past are also displaying accurate information.

Unlike more traditional content on your site, if you are developing voice-friendly content, you gave the freedom to be more natural and steer away from overly formal language that you may have written in the past. You want users to have a one-to-one connection with the way they searched and what they see on the page.

An example of this is a pawn shop that has six locations in Florida and used the tagline “Conveniently Located to Get You Money Now.” However, if you went to their landing page from a voice search query, the tagline slightly changed to read, “Always Nearby, Your Money is Waiting.” They probably made this slight change because they saw that when users came to the site from a voice search query they used the phrase “pawn shop near me” 70% of the time. Incorporating the familiarity of “near me” and “nearby” is a small change that could have a big impact.

Voice Search is no longer a niche type of query, but for many brands a large part of the data they need to stay up-to-speed on and adapt over time. I would recommend tracking voice search behavior and voice search content separately and be prepared to be flexible and change as the way people search changes over time.

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