How using Long-Tail Keywords helps Optimize your Site for Voice Search
All businesses in any industry should be working on a Voice Search Optimization strategy now, in preparation for 2020.
Why? Because sites that are not Voice Search optimized may miss out on customer traffic as ‘position zero’ becomes harder to attain. If you haven’t heard of this phrase, you probably will soon! ‘Position zero’ is that one result that comes up when a Voice Search is performed. Getting (and keeping) ‘position zero’ requires multiple strategies, including long and short keywords, content, data structure, page speed and schema, etc. Long-tail keywords are a good place to start when thinking about how you want your customers to find you, and how you are actually being searched for.
Long-Tail vs Short Tail Keywords
Voice Searches tend to be longer and more conversational than traditional keyed search requests because we type questions differently than we speak them. Searching the ‘old-fashioned’ way, I might type: dentist near me. Now, with Voice Search, I would say: “Siri, where is the best dentist for me to get help for my toothache?”
In order to rank for the typed (or on-page) search, your short keywords (1-2 words) might be: dentist, [city name], toothache, dental practice, etc.
In order to rank for a Voice Search, your keywords should be a little longer (3 + words), and be a bit more descriptive, conversational, and/or answer a question: top rated dentist for toothaches, why do my teeth hurt, do cavities cause toothaches, etc.
Long-tail keywords do not take the place of short keywords,
they work with them. You need a balance of both to rank well in search engines.
How do Long-Tail Keywords Work? Back in 2013, Google made a significant algorithm change to its search feature and called it Hummingbird. This updated algorithm emphasized natural language processing and user intent and context, and performed searches with a new speed and accuracy (hence the name) that was missing in earlier algorithm updates.
This is key, because when people talk to voice assistants, they speak like they are talking to a human – such as asking questions and using long phrases. Even more important than using descriptive words, however, is communicating intent.
Long-tail keywords help Google figure out the user’s intent, which helps customize the search and deliver the results you are looking for. Intent is very important, especially in Voice Search, and here’s why. If you type “watch battery” on screen, you will get results with listings and pictures of batteries, links to retail stores that sell batteries, and maybe some local jewelers who sell watches or replace batteries. It’s relatively easy for you to scan to see what you are looking for, and pull it out of the listings on the page. But if you were to type “watch battery replacement,” you are further refining your intention, and your results are better, because Google now knows what you are really looking for. So you get local places to replace your watch battery, videos on how to replace your battery, and a link to a watch battery replacement kit. Makes sense, right?
Now, with Voice Search, someone asks: “Siri, where can I get my watch battery replaced? Well, Siri can only provide ONE answer to your request. She will take your location, your intent, and find the best answer to your question, which means that the local jewelry store which has the closest long-tail keyword match to ‘watch battery replaced’ will probably come up as the answer. Obviously there’s a little more to it than that, but it makes the illustration that focusing on intent while coming up with your long-tailed keywords can make a difference.
So how do you find Long-Tail Keywords?
There are many free and paid sites that can help with this, if you are willing to put in the time. Doing a regular keyword search in Google is an easy place to start.
All you need to do is type some of your high-performing short keywords into the search bar, and take notice of the results that Google gives you, for example:
- Autocomplete your search. See all those options that Google is giving you when you type in your search? Make note of the ones that apply to your business.
- People also ask box: (usually located in the middle of the search engine results page, or SERP) Google will actually tell you all of the different ways that people are asking for those services.
- Searches related to list (on the bottom of the SERP): Google will let you know which related searches might be helpful. If you start searching on related searches, you can build up an impressive list of keywords to start testing on your site.
Why you need to focus on Long-Tail keywords now:
In addition to the reasons we’ve outlined above, there are other benefits to using long-tail keywords.
- Reduced Keyword Competition: Longer, more descriptive keywords are used by fewer people, which means less competition and better opportunity for you to rank higher on the SERP. For those using Paid Search, this can make a big difference in your Adwords or PPC budget. For example, ‘watch’ has 12,540,000,000 results. ‘Watch battery’ has 1,210,000,000 results, and ‘watch battery replacement near me’ has 190,000,000 results. So, if you are paying for ‘watch battery replacement (city)’, your keywords are cheaper to bid on.
- Increased Conversion: Long-tail keywords convert really well. They are longer which makes them more specific. More often than not, search traffic from long-tail terms tend to be further along the sales funnel than general searches. Meaning, potential customers have already done their preliminary research and are now ready to buy. If your long-tail keywords provide the best match to Siri’s question, you are going to come up in position zero- and have the best chance to snag the sale!
How to use Long-Tail Keywords:
Using Google, find a few long-tail keywords that work well in your industry (or for your competition) and then create content that uses those keywords. If you happen to use a long-tail keyword that doesn’t have much competition, your blog post or content should rank well relatively quickly. This method does take a lot of work and requires a lot of content, so if you are in an industry that is very competitive, you may want to try another tactic, which is adding long-tail keywords into your existing content.
You do that by optimizing your page around a short or medium tail keyword that is already working well for you, and then incorporate some long-tail keywords into that text. Remember, the text needs to sound natural, conversational and is ideally formulated in a way that answers a question that someone might be searching for.
While adding long-tail keywords is only one small part of the Voice Search Optimization puzzle, it can be an important ingredient to making sure your business stands apart in an increasingly competitive digital landscape.
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