The faith we as consumers put in a single spoken answer via voice search comes from the trust a search engine has established with us — that it has THE best answer for our needs. Unlike traditional web-based search — where many results are displayed as a list encouraging exploration, engagement, and choice — voice search is all about the one best answer. This means the pressure has never been greater to get your house in order, to optimize it correctly, and to employ every option you can to secure a search engine's trust.
How can you make sure your business stays competitive in today's world of intelligent devices and voice search?
Gain control over your digital knowledge.
Before you can expect digital assistants to know the facts about your business, you need to make sure you know them yourself. The foundation of any voice search strategy is organizing and centralizing all the public facts about your people, products, and locations in your own knowledge graph. It's important to have a central source of truth so you can easily make updates and maintain consistency. But technology alone will not address this underlying need. You also need great people — and a great process — to work together to source and actively manage your digital knowledge. In fact, it's time for a new role — the Digital Knowledge Manager.
A Digital Knowledge Manager is someone capable of reaching across various internal groups within your company. It's someone capable of arbitrating internal sources of customer-facing digital facts about your brand. A Digital Knowledge Manager also identifies new trends, technologies, and techniques that position your business as a leader, not a follower. As intelligent services like voice search continue to change the digital landscape, you must have someone who can properly align your programs, processes, and people to ensure the information about your business is accurate on every device, service, and platform consumers use today.
Actively manage your knowledge.
Your business is dynamic, and so are the facts about it. Store relocations, seasonal changes, special promotions, weather closures — it's all in flux. That means managing your brand's knowledge isn't a 'one-and-done' project. And both your customers and intelligent services — like voice search or intelligent assistants — expect rich knowledge about your business (i.e. whether you are LGBTQ-Friendly, or if you offer free WiFi).
Publish your knowledge.
As soon as you organize your knowledge, publish it to the places intelligent systems look to supply answers to voice searches — that means intelligent services themselves, wherever possible, plus your website, apps, and any internal systems. Anytime a piece of knowledge changes, publish again. This is an active process. And it isn't simply about consistency. It's about providing the most accurate, up-to-date information everywhere, all while offering an excellent consumer experience.
Refocus your website and digital assets on the conversational long tail.
Search engines don't work miracles. If you hide your content, or make it difficult to discover, it won't show up when people search for it. Your website, videos, and other content are key to contextualizing the public facts about your business for intelligent services… but only if those intelligent services can find and understand it.
And make sure your site is mobile-friendly. This matters less when a consumer is using Google Home or Amazon Alexa, but since phones are still the bulk space for voice interactions, having a mobile-friendly website still matters a great deal. Responsive websites with clean code and a robots.txt file result in new voice search answers that highlight your brand.
Embrace Schema markup.
Your website and digital assets should leverage Schema.org markup to ensure proper association of your content with categories that the engines understand and elevate in answers and results sought by searchers.
While these are a just a few ways to get started, our own Duane Forrester provides even more tips and insights in his eBook, How Voice Search Changes Everything. Download it now.