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Voice search SEO: How to feed the virtual assistant in the search engine?

18.05.2018 08:49 Uhr PSI
Voice search SEO: How to feed the virtual assistant in the search engine? | Voice search SEO: How to feed the virtual assistant in the search engine?

Voice search SEO: How to feed the virtual assistant in the search engine?

Tough times for those who like to see things relative: it’s impossible to overestimate the relevance verbal communication with virtual assistants will soon have in all areas of life. Algorithms are becoming interoperable. A look at what’s called voice search SEO reveals how this impacts the way websites are found.

The latest Google developer conference left even the most obstinate and innovation-hardened digital and tech journalists breathless. Google’s presentation of their speaking software Duplex was delivered with impressive yet for many already depressing perfection.

The human interlocutors receiving Duplex phone calls hadn’t noticed they’d been speaking to a software program. This leads to a whole bunch of topics for discussion and projections of future developments and the speed at which they’ll unfold.

The virtual assistant handles the procurement of standard promotional products

But, from the perspective of promotional products professionals, we’re only interested in one aspect today: if an AI is already able to communicate with humans on equal terms, this will at some point trickle down to the procurement process.

Always available and ready to go to work, virtual assistants will increasingly make themselves indispensable – first for search, later also for the procurement of standard promotional products. The resourceful algorithms will present their hauls in a fraction of a second.

It won’t be the first 10 hits, of course. Not even the first three. Only the first.

Say goodbye to input fields?

The more omnipresent virtual assistants become in the world of the tech gadgets that surround us, the more obsolete will be the charm of the search engine as we’ve known it for more than two decades. Should we be saying goodbye to input fields?

In about two years, one in two searches will be conducted via virtual assistants, according to forecasts. Right now, that figure is said to have reached 20 per cent already. Even otherwise unsuspecting website operators can sense the massive changes coming to search engine marketing (SEO). Online shop pros might even have taken precautions already, meaning, more precisely, that they’ve started doing voice search SEO.

That’s because voice search SEO is the new king among the most prestigious forms of advertising. After all, it requires not only the search algorithm to find an answer, but also the virtual assistant. But how do I “feed” my new customer, the virtual assistant?

Voice search SEO

First, let’s not leave it unsaid that voice search SEO is designed for mobile use via the smartphone and thus for displaying local results. As such, it ostensibly applies to B2C, which – as is often the case – opens the door for B2B.

There are two kinds of questions for digital virtual assistants: first, simple ones, i.e. those Google can handle with content from their so-called Knowledge Graph. This is shown in Google’s own box on the search results page. On smartphones, it appears above the search results; on desktops and tables, it’s on the righthand side.

The content of the Knowledge Graph includes, among other things, data (companies, people, places), pictures, text snippets and details about the search query.

Featured snippets

However, when it comes to more complex questions and issues, which are far more common, Google uses so-called featured snippets as the highlighted search results. These are generated automatically and can’t be directly influenced. Nevertheless, certain website optimisations can help to create greater featured snippets affinity and thus better search rankings.

Because ranking is everything. Don’t forget that featured snippets are displayed above the organic search results. They were developed specifically for mobile devices whose displays have very little room for search results. When virtual assistants are used, this hotly contested space shrinks to just the pole position.

Content-wise, featured snippets provide short and compressed answers from websites, including, for example, text snippets, video snippets, or lists and table snippets. The more structured the way in which the website data is worked up, the higher the chance that Google’s search algorithms will find the answer to the formulated query.

Answers to company-specific FAQs

As a rule, these are the Five W and How questions (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How), the answers to which populate the featured snippets. So, improve your answers. You can do so by finding out which queries already bring up featured snippets (see the related link at the end of this article).

But you already know many typical questions about your products and services from your real-world interactions with your customers, as well: your company-specific FAQs. If you haven’t done so yet, go ahead and spell them out, sprinkle them into your text (including into headlines!), and provide the answers.

If you’re the operator of an online shop, this will work mainly through your (editorial) content. Use the spoken language of the search queries as a guide. Integrate long-tail keywords in voice search SEO copy and avoid the typical SEO jargon known from this kind of writing.

Brands manufacturers and major ad agencies as the drivers in B2B

Brand manufacturers and major advertising agencies will take on the role of voice search drivers in B2B. In the SME segment, the main customer base of the promotional products industry, the input field will, for the time being, continue to dominate promotional products searches. But even there, the advance of virtual assistants is only an issue for the medium term.

The bottom line: SEO will remain relevant, while voice search SEO will steadily gain in relevance. So, initially, you’ll still be on the ball with SEO copy alone. To ensure this won’t change, you should actively, and in a timely manner, engage with voice search SEO texts and their implementation on your own website. This can be done with entirely new copy or by reworking existing copy.

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Related links:

Featured snippets:

Free multilingual online tool for generating Five W and How questions (simply enter a keyword; entering, for example, “Kugelschreiber” [the German word for “ballpoint pen”] yields 153 questions [see chart]):

to News-Summary